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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody. We adopted a rescue Jack Russell mix two months ago, he's three years old, and he is having trouble staying in his kennel. The first week he was here, he was okay with going in the kennel to sleep, probably because he didn't trust us or our home 100% yet and the kennel meant protection. He would even take naps inside, with the door open.
About a month after his adoption, we started letting him sleep on our bed. That's where he stays every night now, either by our feet or right in the middle of my husband and I.
Sadly, he started showing signs of stress when I leave him in his kennel and leave the house. At first, when I had to go out and leave him in the kennel, he started flipping his water bowl over and pushing the bed around, and one day he teared a pee pad in little pieces. I would find a big mess when I came back. Then one day after he had been there about 4 hours, we came home and he had destroyed his bed. I started just putting him in there with his nice blanket and water bowl, and I would leave a toy. It sucks because Jack doesn't like toys, and he's never shown any interest in any of the toys we get for him.
In the last two weeks, we've come home twice and he's pooped inside the kennel. He didn't roll around on it, he just pushed it out to a corner of the kennel. It's sad because I know these are signs of anxiety, but he has no issues going in there to look for treats during the day when the door is open. I always leave treats laying around so he associates his kennel with good things. The problem starts when we close the door.
I decided to start putting him in there for 20 min a few times a day while I'm home, just so he doesn't associate the kennel with us leaving him alone. So I will hang out by the couch (his kennel is in our family room) or watch TV next to him. He still cries and pushes the door. I wait until he's quiet and not pushing to open the door after the 20 min. It isn't lack of exercise because as soon as he gets out, he gets on the couch and takes a nap, or sleeps outside on the grass. He is just anxious to be inside a closed space, but how do I get him to be fine with me closing the door? He has a very comfy bed inside the kennel, that he uses with no issues if it's outside, but he won't go nap on his bed if I leave it inside the kennel.

Any tips to help him get used to being comfortable and taking naps in his kennel would help!
We still don't trust him to be loose when he's home alone, so I need him to be fine with spending time in the kennel if we're out, or else he's the one having a bad time. I work from home and spend most of my time here, but sometimes I have to leave to do groceries and other stuff, and he is never in there for more than 3 hours. The days I don't leave the house, he naps most of the day, so why can't he just nap in his kennel?
 

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Maybe this will help, maybe not. Try putting him in the kennel for very short time just before something awesome will happen. Increase that time with repeats.
This is what I did with Sonic.
He was getting really anxious because I take forever to get ready for a walk, including me running up and down stairs 200 hundred times (I exaggerate a little) and Sonic following me up and down and everywhere.
So I began by getting ready as usual, and then put Sonic in the kennel, shut the door, "good job!", open the door, leash him up and out.
And just kept doing this but always a little earlier in the process. So now, when I'm just thinking of getting ready, or even an hour before, I put him in his kennel. Do my thing, and find him in there waiting and relaxed as he knows good things will happen.
Other thought, put his meals in there (open door), all meals, keep his water in there (open door). Once he realizes this is where some very basic needs are met, he may feel differently about the door being shut now and again.
All dogs are different, so keep your thinking cap on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks! That's a great idea because I know he loves going on walks.

I always feed him in the kennel, and I also keep his water in there, as well as putting treats randomly in there for him. I started closing the door on him when he's eating his dinner, but he will stop eating after a few minutes and cry and cry... when I let him out and leave the door open, he'll go back in there to finish his dinner and then come out. It's so strange!
 

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Try closing the door & opening instantly, and walking away. Or even, moving the door towards closed, and then wide open, and walking away (during dinner, or treats).
Don't progress until he's comfy with that. Tiny steps.
Unfortunately, this won't work so well if you have to lock him in anyway. (I was able to do this with Sonic because he didn't need to be kenneled, and it is a 'just in case' training).

Soooo, have you tried an x-pen for the long lock ups, with plenty of stuff for him in there? A large room (one he and you both like to be in, not a storage room or empty basement)--it would need to be puppy proofed though?
A bigger crate? Like an xx-large meant for a great dane?

Just tossing out some thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I found this guide last night, and it looks very helpful, so I am going to start with this training for him for a few days: Acclimating Fido to his Crate - Method #2 - The Housebreaking Bible.
Part of this guide is the whole "close the door, give treat, open the door" thing that you suggested, so I hope it works for him!
I don't believe it really is separation anxiety because when it's sunny outside, he goes to the backyard on his own and spends hours laying on the grass while I'm inside working, and he isn't anxious then, even though he can't see me.

My husband bought him an XL kennel because he had the idea that a small kennel would be cruel, so he has plenty of space in there. He's a small dog, only 17lbs. I have a feeling that this is another reason why he feels like he can pee or poo inside the kennel, since when it's happened, we always find him in the other corner, away from his waste.
The kennel came with a separator so I put that in yesterday to make it a bit smaller. He still has plenty of space! But I want to make sure he doesn't feel like he can pee/poop in a corner and be fine.
 

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Is there not a room in the house like the kitchen, or a laundry room, or a porch, etc that you can puppy proof and gate? It might be an easier solution for his "I don't like my kennel" anxiety to buy a baby gate........

Although I trained Molly to accept a kennel as a pup I don't kennel her at all now. She is fine being kenneled at the groomer or vets and that's good enough for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't want the kennel thing to be forever, but I do want him to stop being anxious and be fine with sleeping in there, just because it's healthier for him. We don't let him be in the house on his own yet, because he is not completely potty trained and I'm afraid he might pee in the house if I am not watching over him. We are a military family and so we might be moving in the next two years and he'll have to be in his kennel for a few hours, which is one of the main reasons I want him to be comfortable in there. He doesn't spend the night in the kennel, he sleeps with us! But right now I leave him there a few hours at a time when I leave the house. Sadly, the only rooms that I could close off for him have carpet, and we don't own the house, and I don't want him to have any accidents in the carpet, which is why we're doing the kennel thing!
 
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