Graduation Day

>> Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Today is a big day in the saga of Walter: we took down his crate.

Alan and I have crate trained all of our dogs because we have had a very positive experience with it. Each of the dogs has learned to enjoy being in the crate and considers it a safe place, like a human would view a bedroom. Whenever Wembley was scared of something, she always went into her crate. If Reagan had a bellyache, into the crate she went. When we try to get Quincy to sleep in our bed, she always goes back into her crate instead. Walter is no different. He goes into his crate and even opens the door with his nose when it's time for bed.

Our bedroom is a decent size, but when there's a king sized bed and two dog crates, it really isn't that big. Luckily, we do not have dressers and we only use the closet. Dog crates are definitely not part of the decor we would like, but it's a minor inconvenience to make them happy. We could easily put the crates in the basement like logical people, but we like to have the dogs sleeping by us, so in the bedroom the crates went.

Walter's crate is big. He panicked in the smaller crate, so we picked up something more spacious that will also house our future Newfoundland (whenever that may be). Walter was not totally housebroken when we brought him home. He had a lot of accidents at first, which was frustrating. I think he might have been an outside dog and just completely neglected, left to fend for himself.

The big question: Can we train a senior dog already set in his ways? The answer proved to be yes. With a strict schedule and crate training, Walter is now fully housebroken!

Here's what his schedule looked like:

First thing in the morning, take Walter out of the crate and put him on the lead in the front yard. He wanders, so we didn't want to leave him unsupervised without the lead. We also put him in the front yard because there are only two steps, so it's easier for him to get down.

If we left the house, Walter either stayed in his crate or the kennel. After he got out of the crate while we were gone, we decided to leave him in the kennel only, because he panics when he's in the crate and I'm not around.

At night, Walter went into his crate when we went to bed, and then the whole cycle repeated the next day.

This summer we had some opportunities to test him. When Alan and I went to DC to visit Delina and Gary, we brought Walter to save some money on kennel fees. Walter not only was out of his crate for over eight hours without an accident in their apartment, he also made it up and down three flights of steps for the duration of the weekend.

When we got back from DC, Alan stayed the night at a friend's house because he had to work in their area the next day. I was too tired to haul the crate out of the trunk, so I just put the dog bed where his crate was, and Walter slept on it all night (I'd like his next move to be sleeping by me).

For some time now, Walter has been going outside with Reagan and Quincy in the morning, not down the front two steps, but all the way down the back deck stairs! He has no problem zipping up and down those handfuls of steps (maybe 8 or so?).

All of this led to taking down the crate this afternoon. He's probably not going to like it, since he is not a fan of change (his Chow side comes out at any change in his routine...stubborn), but I think as long as he has his dog bed, he will be good to go.

I'm so proud of how far he has come in all of this time.


April September 1, 2010 at 3:22 PM  

Yay! Congratulations Walter! Both of our dogs are crate trained as well, and Scarlet, stubborn weimaraner that she is, adjusted just fine when we took the crates out of the room and replaced them with doggy beds. :)

Melissa September 1, 2010 at 4:14 PM  

That's great! I hope Walter has the same success.


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