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Have you ever tried to crate train an adult dog?
For us, at first it was easy. THEN, all heck broke lose.
See how we turned our rebellious 3-year-old Black Lab/Golden Retriever mix from a crate-hating dog into a peaceful and happy crate-loving dog once and for all.
What follows are some tips from someone who’s been there, done that.
Here’s how to crate train a difficult dog and get them to actually enjoy spending time inside the dog kennel!
First Impressions Can Be Deceiving
Destin behaved marvelously during those first few days when he was confined inside the kennel for short a short time.
During that first week, he stayed in the crate — without incident — for periods of time ranging anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours.
However, the very next time after that first 4-hour confinement… he came unwound!
From that moment on, we lived through a series of frustrating days (and nights) with Destin digging, shredding, crying, barking, and whining. He managed to turn the inside of his crate into a huge garbage pile — each and every time we left him in the crate.
Our Dog Changed His Tune, But We Didn’t
Once we discovered that Destin had changed his tune about this crate-training gig (after destroying everything that was inside his crate the first time we left him for 4 hours), we immediately feared that we’d never be able to kennel-train our adult dog.
But, we decided to stick with it. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that consistency is the key when training dogs. The first time you give in, they win. We were determined not to give in.
The very next day, we had to leave the house for about 3 hours.
Again, we returned to find that Destin had chewed the hard plastic tray that lines the entire inside of the crate. He also chewed big holes in the thick fluffy dog pillow we had left inside the crate. And he chewed to shreds the old sheet we’d used to cover the dog bed in order to make a “nice comfy spot for him”.
Fortunately, there was no damage to the thick wire cage itself, or to the self-locking bars that keep the door to the kennel shut. But there was enough damage to everything else that we knew he meant business.
Wreaking Havoc From Inside The Crate
For the next few days, Destin was adamant about making his point. He would bark himself out-of-breath and he would pant heavily, which the vet said was his way of dealing with the anxiety that came from being physically separated from us — doggie “panic attacks”.
Up until now, he had lived his first 3 years with us right by our side (even sleeping on our bed… until recently), and roaming freely through the house whenever we were gone.
Inside his new kennel, Destin continued to tear up anything we placed in (or near) the crate …except for the dog toys and bones that we left inside the crate for him — those, he wouldn’t touch.
The first casualty: another dog bed/pillow that we left near the crate one time. If you’ve ever wondered what’s inside those dog pillows… The answer is: a combination of foamy/fabric pieces in a multitude of sizes — most smaller than a quarter. We returned home to find Destin’s kennel entirely littered with colorful tiny fabric pieces. Fortunately, he didn’t eat much (if any) of it. His poop remained foam & fabric-free.
Another time-killer for Destin inside the kennel: re-chewing the same corner of the hard plastic that he initially chewed up that had since been duct-taped to cover any “sharp” edges.
This time, we returned to find our dog practically duct-taped to himself! There were long strips of duct tape dangling from his chest… attached to his butt… under his ear… and stuck to his legs. (I know, I should’ve taken pictures, but it wasn’t as funny at that moment. Oh, and he wasn’t swallowing the plastic pieces, just spitting them out amidst the shreds of torn bed sheet!)
See how we eventually survived the whole crate-training ordeal with our dog, Destin.
See how one dog managed to escape from his crate in this video.
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!