Crate Training Issues- No Success After 6 Weeks

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Crate Training Issues- No Success After 6 Weeks

This is a discussion on Crate Training Issues- No Success After 6 Weeks within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; New to the forum after searching for possible "cures" all over the Internet... I'll start from the beginning. I have a 5 year old English ...

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Old 01-16-2015, 03:55 PM
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Crate Training Issues- No Success After 6 Weeks

New to the forum after searching for possible "cures" all over the Internet... I'll start from the beginning. I have a 5 year old English Bulldog (Bayley) that I've owned since he was 16 weeks; never had any issues with his housebreaking, crate training, etc.. He's extremely obedient with minimal work. Fast forward to 6 weeks ago when we adopted a rescue puppy who was 8 weeks old (I did ask if he could stay with the mother longer but the rescue is overloaded with dogs & puppies and they said no). "Sawyer" is an American Staffordshire mix (yes, a pitbull) and he's been a dream puppy except for the crate. He listens well, is doing well on a schedule, has plenty of toys & exercise, knows several tricks (down, shake, sit, leave it, and wait), very healthy according to his vet, and gets along well with my bulldog (they are fed at different times and are not walked together for bathroom time), and just a joy 90% of the time (the crate is the 10% that is driving us crazy). The puppy's crate is next, as in 3 inches, away from my bulldog's crate so the puppy is never alone- plus his crate has toys, treats, Kong with the puppy stuff in it, a towel with my scent, etc... the other 3 sides of the crate (not the bulldog side) are covered to make it a 'den', and we leave a soft light & radio on for them. He has no crate fear- he walks right in and sits down, doesn't mind the door being closed, but the second you walk out of the room all bets are off- he loses his little puppy mind! Screams, howls, barks- it sounds like someone is torturing him- and it can go on easily for over an hour. We do NOT give him any attention when he's acting like that and when he's finally quiet & able to be let out, we don't say a word or show emotion- just open the door and walk away.
I've tried to praise him when he's in the crate and being quiet, but that just gets him started all over again. To say that my nerves are frazzled would be an understatement, lol. I had to quit my job ( I was planning to quit at the beginning of Feb, so it's not that big of a deal, but still..) because I don't want him driving my neighbors (retirees on both sides) crazy.
He does not pee or poop in the crate and isn't destructive- he just sits there making noise, noise, noise!!! My poor bulldog is being very patient but no doubt that it's getting old for him as well. Bayley bulldog is just about the best example a puppy could need- he loves his crate and can happily snooze his day away in his crate.. so I had hoped the puppy would've learned from example.
So, what to do??
We've tried lots of exercise, a full tummy, crating with and without the bulldog next to him, short crate times, long crate times, taking him for a car ride to make him sleepy (hey it works with kids lol), but nothing seems to work. I haven't seen any progress at all- in fact his noise making seems to have gotten longer and louder as the weeks have gone by. If I sit in the room with him, the tantrum is quite a bit less, but as soon as I try to leave a little eye pops open and the commotion starts up.
My vet suggested Benadryl, but I don't want a crutch- I want a cure. He can fall asleep from pure exhaustion and I'll pick him up to let him sleep in his crate, but as soon as I'm walking away, he wakes right up and here we go again. My showers & meals are serenaded by puppy screams & barking.... The last thing we want to do is give him back to the rescue, but if we can't get him over this hurdle my husband says that might be the only option.
Any ideas?
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:52 PM
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You're going to have to work with him in slow increments. Unfortunately, since it's been 6 weeks, it's going to take quite a while and you'll probably face an extinction burst before it gets better.
Do you have a clicker or a marker word? If no, establish one or the other first. Essentially that means to associate either a click or a specific word (typically trainers suggest the word "yes") with a treat. Once you've done that, start working on clicking and treating for calm behavior when you're in the room, first. Be consistent with where you are in relation to the crate as well as being consistent with him in the crate and the door closed. Once you think you've sufficiently reinforced being calm while you're in the room, work on taking a step or two toward the door. Soon, you can start to slowly move out of the room (like one arm out of the room). Click and treat as much as you can for totally calm behavior at all times. If he regresses, go back to the previous step.

Another suggestion is to feed him in his crate or give him some sort of chew or a stuffed kong and walk out while he's eating/chewing. This is a built in positive association because he begins to associate food or a yummy toy with the crate and you leaving.
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Old 01-17-2015, 12:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CadenceDiscordia View Post

Another suggestion is to feed him in his crate or give him some sort of chew or a stuffed kong and walk out while he's eating/chewing. This is a built in positive association because he begins to associate food or a yummy toy with the crate and you leaving.

We do feed him in the crate and he has a stuffed Kong to occupy him while we walk out of the room (that lasts about a minute at best before the noise begins)... Every dog I've had prior to this one has been good with the crate so this experience is just awful and making me feel like a complete failure.
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