Sudden Onset of Crate Aggression

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Sudden Onset of Crate Aggression

This is a discussion on Sudden Onset of Crate Aggression within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hi all, My husband and I have a 4 month old male Wheaten Terrier named Otis. We got Otis when he was 10 weeks old, ...

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Old 11-20-2017, 02:53 PM
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Unhappy Sudden Onset of Crate Aggression

Hi all,
My husband and I have a 4 month old male Wheaten Terrier named Otis. We got Otis when he was 10 weeks old, and he immediately responded well to sleeping and being in a crate while we are at work. He has never had an accident in it, and he always gets a treat or handful of food when he enters using the "Kennel" command. He was recently given a larger crate that is partially blocked off until he gets bigger. Otis was neutered last Wednesday, and ever since then, he has developed some aggression and hesitation when entering his crate. When given the "Kennel" command, he lays on the floor and needs a lot of coaxing to enter. Once in the crate, he is praised and given a treat. However, he is lunging at the door, growling at me, and just recently started snarling to show his teeth. However, we have no issues once the door is closed. When we let him out, he is totally normal and even sits back when we tell him to "Wait" to come out of his crate. He has no other aggression other than normal puppy play biting and teething. We work with a trainer who thinks that something must have spooked him at the vet while he was in his crate, and the association should go away soon over time. She also recommended we feed him in his crate to rebuild the positive association. I know this takes time, but I really feel for him if he is this afraid every time he goes in the crate. I also worry that this could happen again when he is groomed, at daycare, staying with family while we are away, etc. These are all things that are coming up in the next two weeks. Other than growing up with them, this is our first dog and we could really use some ideas or reassurance. Thanks so much!
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:19 PM
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I agree with the trainer on feeding him in the crate to make it a positive place again, and he may have a negative association as he was put under neutered then woke up in pain, I'm sure there were alot of other dogs in there making noise as well...it's going to take some time he is still recooperating from his surgery, did they give you pain meds for him? what kind of treats are you giving him to go in the kennel? Also you said he has a new crate, is it the same type he was in before or is it completely different, like wire vs vari kennel?
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:25 PM
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Welcome to the forum.

Your trainer has the right idea I think, it would appear that something happened as he was put in the crate (he has no issue when he's in). I would agree with feeding him in the crate, but don't "send" him in. For the moment, forget "Kennel".

I would be inclined (without him seeing and maybe preempt what's going on) to use part of his meal to lay a trail to the crate and two pieces in it, put him in that room, shut the door and leave him to it for 5 minutes. You may be able to do this two/three/four times dependant on the size of the meal.

Doing this, you're not putting him in, he can make up his own mind when and if he goes in. If on the first occasion, after 5 minutes, if he hasn't gone in for the pieces in the cage, just run the trail to the cage. When he's happy to eat all the trail on two occasions, try again with, say, one piece inside the cage and see how he goes. Move on gradually, shortening the trail and increasing the number of pieces in the cage (still doing it a number of times per meal), then leave the door open so he can see you, then you're in the room with him.
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:44 PM
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He just finished his pain meds today (was given 5 days worth) and he also has a sedative to keep him calm as needed as to not overdo it after surgery. Treats vary; sometimes Zuke's training treats, sometimes his food...we try to switch it up. And same type of kennel...just bigger. He has a wire one with a bed on the bottom. Always has a couple toys and bones inside.
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:44 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions! I'll definitely try them.
If we abandon the command, how do we get him in at night or when we leave for work?
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Old 11-20-2017, 05:05 PM
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I was going to suggest giving him a higher value reward such as a kong filled with some kind of filling, mine love ricotta cheese mixed with peanut butter and a few smaller cookies then freeze it, they also like when I put a larger cookie in it then add some of the kong stuff n treat...
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Old 11-20-2017, 05:07 PM
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I'll look into that. He loves eating out of his kong.
My husband is home right now and Otis is currently eating dinner in his crate (with the door open). Baby steps!
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Old 11-20-2017, 05:45 PM
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@brookeford said "If we abandon the command, how do we get him in at night or when we leave for work?"

He appears to have related what happened at the vet's to home. To get Otis to realise that home is home and the vet is the vet, keep everything as close to normal as possible and let him decide when and if he's going back in. If you don't give him direction at this time, the decision is his alone, hence, no "Kennel".

As he seems to be progressing, then, by all means use higher value treats, try "Kennel" again, if he reacts "badly", bribe him, take him out of the room, high value treats in the cage (as suggested by @Olympia), let him back in to "discover" them, shut the door.

It shouldn't, but if "Kennel" is a problem for him, teach him again but use a different word (bed, blanket, kong, sweeties).

As @brookeford rightly says - "Baby steps!"
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Old 11-20-2017, 09:23 PM
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I've known a few dogs who will whip around when placed in a kennel and agress- normally they are fine getting them out, and fine while out- I don't know what actually causes it, and it usually seems to be mostly isolated to that one scenario. I would guess they may have had a negative "getting in the crate" experience previously (maybe shoved/wrestled in, or crate used as punishment?), or that they have some anxiety over being in the kennel, and it's a form of redirection. I would wonder if he maybe had to be physically forced into a kennel while at the vets (hopefully gently, but to some dogs, that might still be an aversive experience), or maybe was stressed by the whole experience enough that the behavior popped out while he was there, and after practicing a few times (can speak from experience that it does startle you if you haven't seen the dog do it before, so it would likely be seen as an effective way to gain space for a dog), is carrying the behavior on at home.

I've not experienced this with any of my own dogs, but would maybe try tossing treats into his crate for him to go in and get, first while standing back rather far, then getting progressively closer until you are essentially dropping the treat in, then eventually waiting until he's in and waiting quietly before treating. Ideally, I'd not lock him in the crate while doing this, so as to avoid more rehearsal of the aggressive behavior. It complicates matters a bit if you have to crate him during this time, maybe try using a higher value, slightly longer lasting treat, to hopefully distract him for the time being. What does he do if you just stand there while he's freaking out? Does he stop eventually? If so, you might be able to wait him out, then praise/reward, and let him out after he stands quietly for a brief time.

What does he do if, rather than giving a kennel command, you just say, "come on!", and make a show out of grabbing a handful of kibble or treats, marching them in, and placing them into the crate? Will he willingly go in to eat it? Does he turn around on you instead or after?

What tranquilizer is he on? Some can cause an increase in aggression, or rather a lack of inhibition that the dog normally shows. I would maybe call the vet and ask: how he was about being kenneled while there- they may not give you a completely honest answer, but you may be able to get an idea; and if his behavior could be in any way related to his current medications. Since you have a trainer who is familiar with him, I would also run any of these plans by them prior to trying to put them in action.
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:39 PM
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I agree with the advice you've been given. Leave the door open and put high value treats inside. Once he's using the kennel on his own volition, begin training him to go inside again with the same high value rewards.

Remember, he came out of anesthesia in a kennel at the vets. Dogs are very disoriented for hours after anesthesia, and he might have found it a very frightening experience.
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aggression and fear, crate, neutered, puppy, wheaten terrier

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