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To Crate Train Or Not To Crate Train


Guest mandyleigh129
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Guest mandyleigh129

Hi all,

 

I have been lurking for a few weeks. We've recently adopted our retired grey, Stanley, almost 3 weeks ago. My question is whether or not we should crate train him. We were told by our adoption agency to refrain from it because of their history being kept in a crate at the track. However, I've read a lot on here about you all crate training your ex-racers! So I'm just confused.

 

We've been a bit unfair to him so far because our schedules have been all over the place. My boyfriend has been traveling, and then I'll be traveling. So neither of us have been home at the same time. He's been in daycare, but now we are getting into a solid routine because we finally are getting together a schedule. I work full-time and my boyfriend is home all day for 3 months at a time, and then he is gone for 3 months (he works on ships as a merchant marine). So Stan is going to have his schedule flipped around about every 3 months.

 

So far, we've been keeping him gated in the kitchen during the day while I'm at work or when we go out We've been doing the Kong (works sometimes, he'll typically notice we are going out and abandon it after we give it to him, but he has gone back to it later on because it will be empty when we get home sometimes), tried over the counter calming aids (they made him act super weird), tried the diffuser, leaving the TV on, and ignoring him for 5-10 min before we leave and when we get home. Today, he was barking about 3 min while I was sitting on the couch (out of his sight) putting on shoes. We had a friend let him out around lunch time, and he let us know that Stan had chewed up some of the molding. Then, I came home and he had pooped (diarrhea) on the kitchen floor and was whining before I could even get to him.

 

SO with all that said, we are considering crate training even though our adoption agency advised against it. We think it might benefit him because he's overall a very quiet, wonderful dog and just likes to laze around all day. If he had his own space and home area, maybe he would do better being home alone? Especially when my boyfriend goes back to sea in February, he needs to be able to spend some hours alone, even if we have someone come and walk him/let him out lunch time.

 

Does anyone have thoughts??? Thank you in advance!

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You have two different things here. Crate training and alone training.

 

Crate training. I highly recommend it for ALL dogs regardless of breed, age, etc. It doesn't mean that the dog has to be crated every day. What it means is that the dog has learned to accept the confinement of a crate without any fuss. This is absolutely ideal because there are situations that are beyond anyone's control when a dog may need to be crated (at the vet, boarding, grooming, etc.). It is one extra stress in a stressful situation that your dog doesn't need. If he can be happy in a crate his vet visit/boarding/grooming experience will be that much better.

 

Alone training. This is training you do to teach your dog that "I will come home". Your dog may or may not be crated for this. If your dog has separation anxiety it doesn't matter how well crate trained he is if his bigger fear is that he is alone. Crate training can help with confinement during alone training to help prevent damaging the house, accidents, etc. but ultimately if your dog is very upset he may turn his attention on the contents of the crate, or the crate itself... and that's not safe. I'm sure others will post more about alone training. You can also search "alone training" and "separation anxiety" and there are dozens of threads about it.

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And if you ever have a medical issue at home and he REQUIRES confinement, you'll want him to accept it. Most of them are fine with crates. I am not a "crater", I prefer my dog to have the run of the house. I don't use it for house training or anything. That being said, I *do* have one and every few months, I put her in it. To keep her hand in, so to speak. And it's only because of a potential medical issue which could require crating. So in answer to your question, I definitely believe in having them tolerant of a crate.

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Barbie doesn't do well in a crate..... much to the chagrin of my vet..... every time she has been there (and she has been there a bit, for dental problems and stitching up a skin tear) I can hear her yodelling at them from her crate. When she had to stay overnight at a vet she came back with a sore nose from pressing it against the bars. We tried all the crate training protocols but she has never fully accepted being confined like that.

 

Mouse has no such issues with her crate. When we first got her as a foster we noticed she actually liked 'denning' and we didn't really need to do any training to get her to accept it. It's handy for all kinds of situations, like camping, lure coursing, obedience etc. She hasn't spent much time at the vet (touch wood) but I'm sure she would be fine.

 

In your situation I would try alone training and crate training separately if that makes sense. Perhaps getting him to eat dinner in his crate and seeing how he does, if he settles etc when you are there after his dinner. Make sure he doesn't have a problem with being crated first. If he's one of those dogs that doesn't like being crated then alone training might have to continue in a gated off area as safe as you can make it for him.

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I'd love to know what group you got your dog from--clearly one that believes the kennel life racers do so well in is somehow unkind...

 

Retired racers don't need "crate training." They come already crate trained. Some of them do very well in their pet homes continuing with the crate (particularly useful until they're housebroken), and some of them hate it.

 

If he isn't soiling in the house, or destroying things, I wouldn't bother with a crate at this point.

 

What's more difficult is expecting him to just fit in and settle in without having any kind of established routine. You should try and work up a schedule that gets him out and walked at least 5 times a day, and he should get as much exercise (leash walking is great for that with a new dog) as possible. A tired dog is more inclined to peacefully snooze while you're gone.

 

Since you'll be the dog's primary caregiver, it's going to be up to you to set the schedule. I'd pretend that the boyfriend isn't there, and try and get the dog in a routine that will work once he's gone. It will be very hard on the dog to get used to a schedule of having someone home all day, and then suddenly be alone all day.


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My usual rant: don't leave a Greyhound alone in a crate unless you know the dog is happy there. Some greyhounds will destroy their teeth or seriously injure themselves trying to escape a crate. Remember that when Stanley was in a crate at the track there were 20 other greyhounds in crates beside him. Alone in your house is a different story.

 

Sounds like Stanley has separation anxiety. As others have stated begin alone training. It will take time but most dogs eventually learn to relax when you are gone. There are some however that cannot live without another Grey.

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Guest mandyleigh129

I just downloaded the book "I'll Be Home Soon" on my Kindle which I saw someone post on another thread here, so I am looking forward to reading that and applying some of its methods. I think we are both just overwhelmed with so much info and different theories on crate training and alone training. He has soiled the house on a couple of occasions, and tried to break down the gates a couple of times, but nothing incredibly serious (like tearing down the sliding door blinds or chewing on cabinets).

 

We adopted him from Fast Friends in Keene, NH. We both also thought it was interesting that they told us to avoid crate training because all we have heard about both greyhounds and other rescues is that crate training is 100% the way to go. I don't think it's cruel at all and totally understand the "den" aspect of it.

 

I am happy to say that this morning I gave him a jam packed Kong and he didn't even notice me leaving. He might have once I shut the opened the door to the garage, but he didn't even get up when I shut the gate to the kitchen (something he usually does when we leave). He was going crazy on his frozen peanut butter and our friend who lets him out at lunch said he was really calm when he got there. So that's relieving at least!

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Guest DogNewbie

Wiley is quite fine in a crate and we used it every time he was left alone for the first six months. Now that we own our own place, the crate lives in the basement. That said, I like owned by summer's idea of putting the dog in the crate on occasion so they remember what it is. There are everyday activities where a crate is needed. Vet stays, going to the groomers, boarding kennels, staying in a hotel etc. On a separate note, Alone training is the key. It does take time. It took us six months to be able to leave Wiley alone with out being destructive. I still don't think he is totally "cured" but it works anyways. It just takes time and patience and a strict routine. Find something that works for you now and that you can continue for the rest of the dogs life. There is no point in having an elaborate routine if it isn't practical and it only works on say a Saturday.

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