I've perused the forums for crate training advice, but I thought it might be worth making my own thread to see if there are any added tidbits.
Background first... pup is a 9 week old female. I brought her home late-late last Thursday night, so all we really did was go to sleep in the crate. She had been accustomed to sleeping in a crate at the breeders, but the door was left open and, of course, she had her brothers and sisters. Since then, she has been crated every night, and in a few times a day ranging from 10 minutes to 2-2.5 hours. Two of these times I've left the house (a girl needs groceries!), but I've been home for the rest.
She's in an XL wire crate with a divider giving her only enough room to turn around and lay down. She has a blanket and a stuffed toy (almost as big as her) from the breeder with her mother's scent on it, and I've added in an antler to give her something to do. The crate is covered, and while she can't pull the cover in, she has pulled it down on two occasions (both daytime).
She's pretty good at night, and usually settles withing 2-15 minutes (usually <5, and the odd time she's good from the get go), however during the day is a whole other ballgame. She is NOT happy and she is LOUD about it. I've let her wear herself out a few times, but we got up to 70 minutes of whining/barking/howling in one session (I took her out a few minutes after she quieted). She will also bite at the bars, throw herself around, and in general just try to get out. If she gets to this state, me being in the room/her seeing me doesn't seem to help. She is not, however, so worked up that she wets herself, drools, or refuses to eat as I've seen many people report on here.
She's had 2 accidents in the crate, both at night and during the first 2 days. The first one I chalk up more to a stress release, the second... well I'm not sure, but it hasn't happened since. I do not have scheduled "out times" at night, but rather let her alert me to when she needs to go out, which she reliably does (breeder recommendation and makes the most sense to me).
Now, I know it's only been a week and I have no qualms with riding this out, but I go back to work on Monday and she needs to be crated while I'm gone. 4 hours in the morning, out for ~45 minutes for a pee and play at lunch, and 3 hours in the afternoon. If there is anything I can do in the next several days to make this easier for her, I'm game. I have a friend who has a year-old dog (non-Vizsla) who still screams bloody murder when he goes in his crate every day... he starts screaming when she puts him in, and he's screaming (either again or still) every time she takes him out. My girl will be crated in the daytime for the foreseeable future... I would say at least a year but basically until I can trust her by herself for several hours at a time. My past dogs were all crate trained and didn't have negative residual effects, but they also didn't scream bloody murder like this in the beginning.
Here's what I have done so far, from my own experience or from advice I've read on the forum:
- Specific crate treat every time she goes in. She loves them, and I've upped it from one when she goes in to one when she goes in and a couple more dropped around as I've found her taking the 2-3 minutes to eat them can sometimes help to calm her.
- Fed in the crate (she marches in happily for this express reason).
- Sitting with her/sticking my fingers in to help settle her, sneaking out when she's quiet (depending on how exhausted she is, this can mean 5 mins of silence or hours of silence).
- Crate is by my bed... but again, she's pretty good at night.
- Not getting excited when I let her out (though she always is).
- Not letting her out when until she's quiet. Sometimes this means she's totally calm and done her ruckus for the moment, but sometimes it just means she's stopped for 30 seconds as she would be in there all day otherwise!
- Trying to put her in when she's tired/naturally wants to sleep. This one is iffy for me as when I start work she will HAVE to go in at set times regardless, but I will continue to endeavour to tire her out beforehand.
The next thing on my list is to pick up a plastic crate and see if that makes a difference. Hoping to grab one today.
Also note that while I can work at slowly building up time during the day, she will be crated overnight regardless of our daytime progress.
One last thing... this little pup refuses to sleep anywhere other than my lap, excluding her crate at night. She loves her bed in the living room for play, but when it's time for a nap, she either crawls on my lap if I'm on the floor, or sits in front of me and waits if I'm on the couch. I'm totally fine with this level of snuggling - as a puppy and an adult - but I thought it was worth mentioning in case it might have a negative effect on the crate acceptance (I've searched that on here too, and the consensus I read was that it shouldn't). I've seen some people transport their pups to a bed or crate when they fall asleep on them; I'm not sure if I have a light sleeper or what, but that is not possible! She wakes up as soon as I stand and even if I just put her on her bed beside me and rub her, she will get up and come back over for a lap sleep.
Whew. Sorry for the novel... but from reading past threads I know details are key. If anyone has any other tricks I can try, I welcome the advice, but if I have to just keep doing what I'm doing, that's fine too. I just don't want to have an adult pup who can't be crated!