If any of you are animal lovers (especially dogs) you’ve got to go check out one of my favorite new blogs. It’s fabulous! She discusses dog training in a very fun, snarky, ‘in your face’ kinda way and makes rational, logical sense out of why we do what we do with our animals. If you’re offended by adult language, it probably isn’t the blog for you. Although, if you’re offended by adult language then you quit reading this blog ages ago so I’m not sure why I qualified that.
The first post of hers that I read was on crate training. Now, I have never been huge on crate training. (Don’t get your panties in a wad yet, MoFo. Let me finish.) I never really saw the necessity for it.
I had a kennel in the back yard where the dogs could stay that had two dog houses and a cover on top to keep the elements out. They could stay there if it was nice out and I was not going to make it home for lunch. Once I got my yard fenced, the kennel went away and a dog door was put in so that they had access to the yard when they had to do their duties. Well, actually, it was a cat door so the kitty had free reign, but my Pyr figured out that she could squeeze her large body through a cat door. Damndest thing I’ve ever seen. But, I digress.
In the basement of my house, the bozo who lived there before built a rustic, western style bar. It has brick on the floor. It has a bar. It has a half wall. It has an open doorway into the family room. Before the dogs, we had a pool table and a foosball table in the bar. It was a tight fit but we had a lot of good times in there. As the kids got older, they no longer wanted to play those games with their old parents and would rather be out with their friends so the pool table and foosball tables went away. I had Brandy back in those days and she slept upstairs with us. She was an adult dog, fully house trained, very well behaved. Probably the best behaved dog I’ve ever had. She slept in the doorway of Matt’s room. When I lost her and got Ellie as an eight week old puppy, I knew that it was far beyond impractical to give her free reign of the house. She wasn’t a chewing puppy, but damn, she had a mind of her own. Most stubborn dog I’ve ever owned. So I needed a safe place for her to be a puppy during those times when I wasn’t home. And at this point I can hear IfByYes screaming, “That’s what crates are for, you stupid bitch!!”
I decided that the bar would be the perfect place for a young puppy. It had the brick floor in case there was an accident. It had enough room for her to move around and romp and play. It had a door to close off the bathroom and the shop so she had no escape route. It didn’t have anything in it that she could chew. So I blocked off the doorway leading to the family room with an old table and that’s where she stayed at night and when I was at work. Since I only work ten minutes from my house I was able to come home at lunch and play with her and take her out to potty. As she got older (and bigger) and learned that she could push the table away from the doorway I went ahead and made it a permanent structure. I cut the legs off the table, put hinges on the sides, and made a half-door to block off the bar from the family room. This is where she slept. It’s where I put her when she was in trouble. It was her room.
Jake came along when Ellie was four months old and for the first six weeks he stayed upstairs with me in a crate (gasp) before I was comfortable leaving him and Ellie alone. Once he was house trained (easiest dog to house train EVER, I might add) he moved from the crate to the bar. The two of them hung out with us during the times that we weren’t working and they would lay on the floor beside us while we watched TV at night, but as soon as I said, “Time to go night night” they would both get up and walk downstairs to the bar. They’d stand there and wait for me to get down and let them out back to do their duties before bed time, then they’d head back into the bar. They learned that the bar was their room. When we had company and it started to get too crowded upstairs I would tell the dogs, “To the bar.” And they’d get up and head downstairs to the bar. Whenever Ellie got into trouble my normal routine was, “Dammit, Ellie! Get down to the bar!” And she’d hang her head low as she trudged down to the bar. I was cleaning bathrooms one day and walked into the kitchen and Ellie took one look at me and hung her head. I had no idea what she’d done, but I knew she had done something wrong. I said, “Ellie, what did you do?” She just turned around and headed down to the bar.
Well, this weekend we went off the grid. The dogs were hanging out with me when Jake walked up and looked at me. He wasn’t on a leash so he could go wherever he wanted to and I said, “You wanna go lay down?” He turned tail and headed to the kennel that I keep at our lot. So I opened the gate and he went right in to lay down. Interesting, I thought. He could lay down anywhere on our property, but he chose the kennel. Hmmm.
When we’re inside the camper and the dogs are hanging out with us and I tell them to go night night, they head to the back room..a little slide out room. When we first bought the place it was a busy weekend off the grid and with all the people out and about I didn’t want to leave them in the kennel because Ellie would bark all night at the noises. So I took them back to the room, had them lay down and told them “night night.” Now they know that when they’re inside, the back slide out room is where they go night night. If we have the kids with us and it’s raining there is no room in the camper. The kennel is in the elements so they sleep in the shed. Guess what? I tell them “Go night night in the shed” and they head into the shed.
After reading the post on Crate training and scoffing a little going, “It’s too hard to crate train.” I realized that it can’t be any harder than the “crate” training I’ve already done with my dogs.
This “crate:” Notice that the door is open. He doesn’t have to be there. He wants to be there.
This “crate:” The back room of the camper…nice and cozy for them.
This “crate:” The “stormy weather” crate.
This “crate:” Their normal living quarters.
The next dog I get, I’m going to train him to a real crate!