I’ve talked before about how when I first got her Aussie had pretty severe separation anxiety. The only thing that saved my sanity and my wallet was crate training. As long as you don’t use the crate for punishment, crate training is a beautiful thing. Basically, when you’re not home for any length of time, the dog spends the time locked in their crate. This keeps them from getting into things they shouldn’t, etc. When you’re home, you leave the crate door open so they can go in and out as they please. Dogs also grow quite fond of their crates, which is incredibly helpful when traveling. Aussie has no issues flying or anything as she travels in her crate (it’s an FAA approved kennel) or the crate comes with us to the strange environment. It’s kind of like her own personal portable bedroom. It’s also security for her, and keeps her calm. She’ll go lie in it and take a nap. She stashes things in it to “protect” them (like empty cheese containers she fishes out of the recycling! or rawhide bones she’s saving for later). In fact, she’s so protective of her crate she gets very upset when I have to clean it (vacuum the fur out, wash the bedding, etc.). She’ll watch my every move, peering over my shoulder and periodically whining in my ear until I’m done. Then she promptly goes in her crate to check everything out and make sure I didn’t do any permanent damage to her “room.”
For years she stayed locked in her crate when I wasn’t home. And no, I don’t feel guilty about doing it (see statement about how protective she is of her crate…it’s her personal space). As she got older and the separation/destructive doggie tendencies subsided, I started leaving her out of it for short periods of time like a run to the grocery store. When we had no issues, those periods of time got longer and longer until I stopped having to lock her in there at all. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had to crate her when I wasn’t home.
Unfortunately, Aussie has been a brat lately. I’m not sure what brought on this round of regression into bad behavior, but we’ve had to go back to training basics. Among other bad behaviors, two forays into the garbage in a three week period is not a good thing. The gastrointestinal impact alone is not pretty (I’ll save you and not go into details…but let’s just say I missed work one day because we had to make rather frequent trips outside). So we’ve gone back to crate training to keep her out of trouble.
Aussie is not happy about this. It used to be that as soon as I put on my coat or picked up my keys she’d go into her crate, no prompting or command from me. She just knew and accepted it. No problem. Lately, however, she’s been expressing her displeasure about this return to training basics. I’ve been having to tell her to go in her crate more than once before she’ll do it. And even though she does, she kind of drags her feet in the process, taking her time to get up from the dog bed and walking slowly to the crate. We then have yet another conversation about how she’s brought this on herself by her own behavior. Which garners a deep sigh from her in response. And she’s generally been a bit pouty all week when I’m home. Not a happy dog about having to hang out in her crate. I’m sure she prefers napping on the couch to her kennel.
I’m hoping a week of having to stay in her crate will be enough of a reminder this time. This weekend I plan to try leaving her out as I run a few errands. If all goes well, we’ll try a full day next week. Because a pouting dog is not a good thing.