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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-01-2017, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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When to close crate door with ex pen

Since we brought the puppy home (at 10 weeks old) we've been using a crate within the ex-pen. The crate door has always been open (per breeder's suggestion) so that she can come and go within the pen. The breeder had paper trained her for the most part, so the papers, water and some toys are in the pen.

She's now 12 weeks old and I'm wondering what the next steps should be as far as closing the crate door. I think she should start getting used to the crate with the door closed but am not sure how often to close the door or for how long. What is the best way to get her used to being in the crate with the door closed? She's a sweet little puppy and would much rather sit at the end of her pen and watch us come and go, than take a nap. I'm thinking if she settled in her crate during the day and we closed the door, that she might be able to nap better than she does now.

I'm open to any/all suggestions! Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-01-2017, 10:32 PM
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Gracie spent a lot of time in an ex-pen during her first 18 months. The only time we crated her, and still do most nights, is bedtime. Unless my husband puts her in bed with him before I get to her! Anyway, we had no need to confine her strictly to a crate during the day. Her bed, water and ugodog were all in the pen with her, and available to her at all times. When she was a bit older and a little more trustworthy, she would go into the pen on her own and take a nap or use her potty.



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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-02-2017, 02:18 PM
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What you've done is good. And yes you want to have her also be able and comfortable staying in her crate with the door closed. When she stays in the crate with the door closed for at least 10 seconds without any signs of anxiety, close the door, latch it, and take one step away from the crate. Click!, return to the crate, reward, and open the door. Repeat this step, varying the time and distance you leave the crate. Slowly build up the duration to a couple of hours. Generally she can be left in the expen with the crate open all the time ,but you want her to be comfortable if she had to be put in a crate only ,example ; at the vets or in the car.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-02-2017, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback. She's very comfortable in her crate so we'll start closing the door briefly.

We are just beginning to housetrain her outside and, from what I've read so far, this seems easier to do if she's contained in her crate for short periods of time during the day. Opinions / suggestions?
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-02-2017, 11:38 PM
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I wondered that same thing when we first got Shama, but I didn't articulate my question in the forum. I wondered how to reconcile the idea of crate training to help my dog learn to potty only outside with the fact that her crate was always open within the ex pen. I wish I'd asked the question and received Dave's answer. We didn't think to ever close the door to the crate since she was contained in the ex pen. She does OK in the crate in the car and on the rare occasions that we take it somewhere without the entire ex pen, but I think it would have been a good idea to close her in the crate occasionally in the ex pen. At the beginning, she slept exclusively in her crate (door open) within the ex pen, but then we replaced her training tray (plastic grid that clamps over piddle pad) with a plush bed. When she was recovering from being spayed, she slept in/near the plush bed, and she hasn't really returned to her crate. Regarding napping, Shama has always been on the go when not in her pen. Even when she lies down, it's in one spot for a few minutes, then she relocates to another spot. Any noise and she moves. She rarely goes into the pen on her own, but when we put her in there, she flops down in/near her plush bed as if to say, "Finally I can take a nap! What took you so long to put me in here?"
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 08:09 AM
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I wouldn't mind the crate and ex- pen combination during the day. I think it's brilliant because it can go and rest inside the crate or can watch you doing stuff around the house. I think with age though i'd also get to closing closing the door once it's calmly settled in the crate just to ensure that it is comfortable and neatly tucked in its crate especially at night.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 08:24 AM
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I think you need to decide whether you want to maintain an indoor potty option or not. I used a crate to housetrain Molly. I also used an expen but it did not have a potty area in it. I used it to give her more space after she had pottied when I could't keep eyes on her every minute. With crate training your puppy spends time in the crate and is taken out to potty. If they go outside they can have supervised freedom in the house. If they don't potty they go back in the crate and you try again in a little while. As they mature they can go longer between potty trips and spend more and more time outside of the crate under your supervision. Remember that puppies have to be taken out frequently, including any time they change activities. So that means after eating, waking up, playing, etc. I have her crate for sleeping at night in my bedroom. I have another crate downstairs in the living room. I kept my expen in the kitchen area on the tile floor. This way she could be in the vicinity of the family no matter what we were doing. The pen was handy to contain her when I was cooking or cleaning and couldn't keep my eyes on her. The crate was great for when I was out of the area like showering, getting the mail, or running a quick errand. When I am gone for a longer period of time Molly is gated off in a mud room area with her crate, water, food, and toys. Crate training worked well for me but I am a stay at home pet parent and was able to take her in and out of the crate as needed. I think if I worked outside of the home an indoor potty set up would have been necessary.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newyorkmom View Post
Thanks for the feedback. She's very comfortable in her crate so we'll start closing the door briefly.

We are just beginning to housetrain her outside and, from what I've read so far, this seems easier to do if she's contained in her crate for short periods of time during the day. Opinions / suggestions?
I agree completely with Dave that dogs should learn to rest comfortably in their crates. Just to add to Dave's excellent advice, I'd remind you of the "three D's" in training... Distance, Duration and Distraction. Only increase ONE of these parameters at a time.... And "Distraction" (in this case, that probably means crating in a strange place... starting with a different room) should come last.

As far as the potty training bit... If she is doing well with potty training to an indoor potty, and you intend to keep that behavior (which I would STRONGLY advise for a bad weather and travel option!) I would not worry AT ALL about "training" her to go outside. They learn this easily, all on their own. They do what comes naturally while they are outside with you, and you praise them for doing so. Very soon they understand that outdoors is another perfectly acceptable potty spot, and most come to prefer it. (maintaining the use of the indoor potty for those times that you need it becomes the challenge) I have yet to hear about a dog who didn't learn to potty outdoors without ANY specific "training".


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ShamaMama View Post
I wondered that same thing when we first got Shama, but I didn't articulate my question in the forum. I wondered how to reconcile the idea of crate training to help my dog learn to potty only outside with the fact that her crate was always open within the ex pen. I wish I'd asked the question and received Dave's answer. We didn't think to ever close the door to the crate since she was contained in the ex pen. She does OK in the crate in the car and on the rare occasions that we take it somewhere without the entire ex pen, but I think it would have been a good idea to close her in the crate occasionally in the ex pen. At the beginning, she slept exclusively in her crate (door open) within the ex pen, but then we replaced her training tray (plastic grid that clamps over piddle pad) with a plush bed. When she was recovering from being spayed, she slept in/near the plush bed, and she hasn't really returned to her crate. Regarding napping, Shama has always been on the go when not in her pen. Even when she lies down, it's in one spot for a few minutes, then she relocates to another spot. Any noise and she moves. She rarely goes into the pen on her own, but when we put her in there, she flops down in/near her plush bed as if to say, "Finally I can take a nap! What took you so long to put me in here?"
I would strongly advise that you train Shama to love her crate now. (It's definitely not too late!!!) When a dog needs to be crated at a vet hospital with an illness, if they are not used to a crate, that just becomes one more stressor for them. There are other times that crating can be necessary too. This is an important skill for a dog to have.

With an older puppy or dog, I highly recommend Susan Garrett's "Crate Games" video. (DVD) You will develop a very strong value for the crate, even if you don't do more than the first 3 lessons on the video.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 01:57 PM
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As far as the potty training bit... If she is doing well with potty training to an indoor potty, and you intend to keep that behavior (which I would STRONGLY advise for a bad weather and travel option!) I would not worry AT ALL about "training" her to go outside. They learn this easily, all on their own. They do what comes naturally while they are outside with you, and you praise them for doing so. Very soon they understand that outdoors is another perfectly acceptable potty spot, and most come to prefer it. (maintaining the use of the indoor potty for those times that you need it becomes the challenge) I have yet to hear about a dog who didn't learn to potty outdoors without ANY specific "training".
I have to fully agree with this. Before we got Raffy a year ago, we had other small dogs for 20 years who were never trained for an indoor option. We -always- had problems with them going in the house (on carpet eww) when the weather got bad. Since Raffy came to us trained to a pee pad, and I took the advice on these forums to always offer an indoor option, we've had very little issue with our dogs relieving themselves where they shouldn't. Raffy learned to go outside with our older dog and prefers that unless it's really wet outside. It's been such an amazing difference, we wish we'd known this when raising our previous dogs. It would have saved years of frustration. Better the potty spot/pad than your carpet. I will tell anyone with a small dog (puppy) to train them for the indoor option and to continue to provide one indefinitely. Forcing them to always go outside might work for some people but it's never been successful for me.


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