Q&A: When Good Dogs Go Bad

Hi DTB

I have a 4 month old husky / shepherd mix. I’ve had her for 2 months and from the start I did crate training. At first she was fine but now she hates her crate. She soils the crate at night cause she knows I’ll have to take her out of it to clean, she barks and howls until you let her out and she shreds the bedding when you ignore her. It’s not like I don’t take her out at night either. I’m at a loss. I can’t leave the house during the day without hiring a pet sitter because she chews the crate when you leave for short amounts of time.

 Alexie

Hi Alexie.

You have a few options that you can try. If you have an appropriate space, and are not set on sticking with the crate, you could try and close her in a laundry room or bathroom. This gives her a little more space but still confines her so you don’t have any accidents or destruction issues in the house (make sure there is nothing around that she can get). If she chews up her bed, I would just put an old towel down for now.

If you want to stick with the crate, it is important to put her in there frequently for short periods of time. No matter which you choose to do, this is the strategy you want to use. (You can put a bone or a stuffed kong in there with her so she has something fun to do when you go for longer periods of time).

I would put her in, pick up your keys, walk out for a few minutes and then return. Make sure when you leave you show no emotion. You put her in close the door, and leave. When you return you open the door and let her out. No big hellos or goodbyes, make coming and going a ‘non-event’.

Make sure you give her a good walk before putting her in for a long period of time. For dogs, sometimes even negative attention is better then no attention.

By four months, she should be starting to be able to hold her bladder through the night. Make sure you feed her no later then 5pm, and no water after 7pm. Take her out to relieve just before you go to bed and put her in the crate/room. If you do have to get up in the middle of the night, give her no attention. Simply take her out or just clean it up and put her back in. It should in no way be fun for her.

An appropriate crate is small enough so she would really have to sit in it. If you have her in a huge crate she can move away from the mess. The concept of dogs do not like to mess where they sleep only works if she literally cannot move away from it. By four months I would say you should be starting to ignore the barking in the crate. Typically the first night is very hard, the second night a little less so, and by the third or fourth night they settle down quickly because they learn it is not getting them what they want…your attention!

Let us know if this helps!

Beth

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Beth Jeffery

Beth Jeffery is a Dog Trainer and Behaviorist with over 15 years experience in the field. She spent years in the Service Dog field, training both Guide Dogs for the Blind and Assistance Dogs for the Disabled, as well as many years working with pet dogs. Beth current runs her Dog Training business in San Diego, working with dogs of all breeds, all ages, and with all issues, from puppy training through to aggressive dogs.

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