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Crate training--gradual versus abrupt

4402 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  sarahaf
Hi, new member. We have a vizsla puppy that we got at 8 weeks and have had her for 10 days. She's our first vizsla and the first dog we are trying to crate train (past dogs have been poorly trained in general, too, so we're sort of novice trainers). We didn't have the heart to leave her in the crate the first night, so she and we got used to sharing the bed. We're working on positively conditioning her to the crate with food, toys and attention in there, aiming for gradually longer periods with the door closed. We've been moving a bit too slowly on this though. She has a lot of separation anxiety. We've had some issues with biting (hard) at night, so we tried putting her in there at night last night out of desperation when she was attacking one of us. After being closed in the crate, she was completely panicked, screamed and peed. I'm afraid we gave in and let her out after about 15 minutes with escalating levels of terrified screams. The breeder suggests biting the bullet and letting her cry it out, but I'd be more comfortable if we could get her more conditioned to feel comfortable being in the crate for shorter periods before leaving her overnight in it (of course, it wouldn't be uninterrupted overnight because she'd need to go to the bathroom at least once during the night). Any votes on gradual versus abrupt?

BTW, I think we do have a better handle on the biting issue; I know we're in good company there.

Thanks, Sarah
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Congrats on your V and welcome.
Personally I would just stick your V back in there and let him cry it out. It should not take too long for him to get used to it.
I can only tell you what worked for us. From day one he slept in his crate, I wouldn't have it any other way.
We picked him up from the breeder and put him in his crate for the 3 hour drive. The odd time we would take him out and he would sleep in my GF's lap.
The first night was a struggle, we all had a slumber party in our living room. Crate door open and myself and my GF on the floor outside the crate. He cried for about an hour. Then we woke him up to go relieve himself. Once we got him back in he cried for 20 minutes.
The next night the crate went in our bedroom, 15 minutes of crying, tops. We would talk to him while he cried, mostly positive reinforcement, just to let him know we were there. Oh and all these times and to this day (he's 5 months old) we cover his crate with a blanket to black it out for him as much as possible.
We keep a fleece blanket in there for him and a non edible nyla bone. We had towels in the crate when he was even younger, but soon discovered he would rip at them while we were at work and eventually he would swallow the towel strands... not good.
Knock on wood he has not even tried to rip up the fleece blanket.
All I can say is you have to have patience for the first while....good luck and keep is posted.

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Crazy Kain's got some good advice. Every time you take your pup out when she protests is just teaching her to scream louder. You have to let her fuss and only let her out when she's done fussing. This tells her she can come out when she's calmed down. And, as an aside, never use the crate to punish the dog (i.e as a "time out"). This further negates her association with the crate. Crate time should be positive.

Crate training takes patience and is not something that happens overnight.

GOod luck!
I put Blaze in his crate to sleep from the first night in the kitchen. I considered the bedroom but worried that every stir he made would wake us. He would cry the first few nights @ bedtime and after being put back in after midnight pees but I persevered and soon enough there was no problem. I do remember in the first few nights lying outside the crate with my pillow and blankie to talk softly and soothe him for a little while before I would go back to bed. That helped. Sometime last fall when he was a little older he graduated to a lovely plush dog bed in our room or he sleeps on one of the boys beds. In the morning I invite him up on my bed to snuggle while I watch the news and drink coffee. :)
WOW, I wish I could trust Kian to be on our bed with a coffee :eek:
Hi all,

Thanks for your advice and words of encouragement. We have definitely tried not to let her out while she's crying, which we know we're not supposed to do, but there have been some major exceptions. I also have to confess she's still on the bed at night (whoops). Mostly, she sleeps without disturbing us but we may get her into the crate eventually at night. During the day, though, we have been putting her in the crate more often, which she still finds distressing (our fault because we have spoiled her, most likely). We gave her breakfast in the crate today and left her in there to cry it out. When she came out, she had diarrhea and vomited twice, so I felt pretty badly. She isn't acting sick so we're just going to watch it and take her to the vet if it persists, but I think it might be just anxiety or the wrong kind of treat. She seems to generally get loose stools at the drop of a hat, if you so much as look at her the wrong way (or feed her the wrong thing). She vomited once before, too, but not in the past few days.

We have the biting under fairly good control. We give her attention for licking and correct biting by closing her muzzle for a few seconds (which she hates). We've also noticed a pattern of her getting into a "vizsla crazy" mood at night, which seems to trigger the biting. We coped with her crazy mood last night by letting her get it all out chasing after an electronic vibrating ball and playing fetch, then she was knocked out. I agree with what others have described about vizslas, she seems to have only two speeds, hyper and asleep (and if you disturb her sleep, she vocalizes discontentedly under her breath).

Oh, and she also loves toilet paper, grass, bark and leaves. We don't let her have these things, but on walks, she probably manages to get some grass into her, which may be what upset her tummy. This seems to be a vizsla trait. Good to compare with others who know...

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yes, mine loves grass, leaves, branches, bugs, gum, garbage, oh and he once ate a sandwich bag with half a sandwich in it that somebody left at the park :mad: that one cost us $300 to get his stomach pumped.
be careful, we had to send Kian to the vet about a month ago. The vet thinks he licked bird droppings or ate some form of garbage. He woke one morning and vomitted 4x and had diarrhea 4x in the matter of 3 hours. He was put on antibiotics and on a soft food diet for 10 days. The poor guy lost so much weight right off the bat.
So, be careful when your V is out and about on walks and in parks, at this age they will put almost anything into their mouths, and being a puppy they are so fast that you will miss it.
Try the "LEAVE IT" command. Kian is doing well with this one when I see garbage or crap on the sidewalk or in the park. I usually yell it at him before he makes a move for it.

Good luck.
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One problematic thing is that after she poops (including diarrhea), she tries to go over and commune with her poop, smelling it and, well, we don't let her get past smelling it but I'm afraid what would come next...I'm at work now and others are home with her and were to take her to the vet post haste if it continued, but I'm assuming that the diarrhea and vomiting stopped. The last time this happened was some days ago (a week?), and her stools returned to normal in between with no vomiting, so I think it may just be a sensitive stomach issue. But I worry because she loves to try to eat gross things. One of her favorites according to another family member is goose poop (tried for it, not allowed to have it, and therefore, the walk was no fun because it's an area that has a fair amount of goose poop right now and she was quite persistent).

BTW, I've been looking for my instructions I printed out from the website of a local chapter of prevention of cruelty to animals on how to train the "leave it/drop it" commands. I had the idea this one would be a priority with her. She already learned sit, but not doing us a lot of good...
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Crazy said:
be careful, we had to send Kian to the vet about a month ago. The vet thinks he licked bird droppings or ate some form of garbage. He woke one morning and vomitted 4x and had diarrhea 4x in the matter of 3 hours. He was put on antibiotics and on a soft food diet for 10 days. The poor guy lost so much weight right off the bat.
Update: She did have to go to the vet today. There was no more vomiting, she hasn't been acting sick, eating and drinking well, hasn't had watery diarrhea but continued to have very loose stools, quite consistently. The vet wanted to be careful given her tender age, so he went ahead and treated her with medicine and a special diet on the assumption there may be a worm or parasite, while awaiting her stool sample results. I hope everything will be okay. We feel guilty because we probably should have overprotected her more given how young she is. We've tried not to let her play with strange dogs given she's not fully vaccinated but it's hard to take them for walks without them encountering all kinds of poop and garbage, and other dogs.
very sorry to hear.
all I can tell you is that puppy's are very resilient, she'll be okay.
about socializing with other animals, we were very careful with Kian until he had all his shots and the vet told us it was okay. If we were on a walk, which usually was not a long one we would always pick him up if another dog came our way. most dog owners will understand.

good luck and keep us posted.
Good luck with your pup! It is definitely expected that pups get into stuff. I'm sure this will pass. I think we just got lucky with ours and no major malfunctions. We had a friend with a pup the same age who ate a rock and had to have emergency surgery!

But, our V looooooooves to munch on the TP rolls if we forget to shut the bathroom doors. Underwear and socks are fair game as far as he's concerned as well as any type of paper product. Thankfully he's completely disinterested in shoes and furniture.
sorry to hear bout your pup. havin the same prob with ours. Purdey loves eatin everything to her disavantage as now she s on rice, chicken and fish on orders by the vet..... just want to let ya know totally understand what ya going through.
keep us posted
C x
She tested positive for a parasite called giardia. It is what we kind of suspected based on our "internet self-diagnosis," and it is what the vet had already started treating her for based on his suspicion. She is doing better. Not to be gross, but light colored diarrhea without loss of appetite is one of the signs, and it is much more common in puppies than adult dogs. It isn't something the vaccines would have helped with, and I don't feel too responsponsible as it's pretty prevalent. A lot of dogs and other animals are asymptomatic carriers, and she could have been exposed before we got her. Also, we've read that even if your dog tests positive, you can't know for sure that the parasite is what caused their diarrhea, because so many dogs are carriers.
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