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    1. #11
      House Broken
      happy_blackbird's Avatar
      Join Date
      Nov 2014
      Berkeley, CA
      Thanked: 96

      Small Steps Forward!

      Thanks for your post, Lauranj. I have spoken to the breeder a few times about Ellie's crate resistance, first when we brought her home at eight weeks and most recently a few days ago. He let me know that Ellie's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother (all of whom he owned) took to crating just fine. Ellie's sire is also crated at home (though her lines are hunters, both parents live as family members in the home, not as kenneled working dogs). I have worked through most of his suggestions (letting her "cry it out", start with short durations), but after speaking with him this last time, he suggested we put a particularly sweat soaked item of clothing into the crate with her, something that really smells like us, and lo and behold, I think it's part of some small successes we're suddenly having these last two days.

      Ellie most certainly has not learned how to self soothe, which is just heartbreaking to hear, but we did start her in her crate from day one. I'm a firm believer that dogs (and their owners) need time outs and rests. When our last lab was a puppy, we both took a 1-2 hour rest in the morning and the afternoon and that meant crate time (I work from home). This just has not been possible with Ellie, as I didn't think it was healthy for her to have to stand in her own feces as she panic barked and threw her face against the crate door (which is what she would do in her appropriately sized crate from day 1). It took about three weeks to get her settled into her night time crate with us in the bedroom (and even now, she wakes us up barking furiously instead of resting quietly or even just complaining by whining) and more than a month to be able to have her in her car crate.

      She is a very, very smart girl (she figures out every kibble puzzle we put down for her in short order), but we have noticed that when she gets laser focused on something (a bird, a smell, eating dirt), it's very hard to break her attention. To me, it looks as if once she gets going with the bark panic, she can not reign it in on her own and nothing we do or say (and we have given her both a sharp "no!", a gentle "ahah" to no avail) can shut it off. Only letting her out of the crate, at which point she usually falls asleep while still whimpering, ends the panic.

      We've learned to watch for other over-excited signals to cut them off at the pass, which has helped make her much more even keeled all the way around. For instance, while we were still waiting for her vaccinations to finish and she was stuck in the house a great deal, she used to get what we call "the zoomies", where she would tuck her butt, flatten her ears, rabbit pump her rear legs, and run through the house at a full gallup, nailing the walls, door frames, people, anything in her path (she lost a nail permanently injuring herself while doing this). After the zoomies, she would vocalize and bite mercilessly, snapping at our faces, flinging her head from side to side and pawing at the air in front of her (or dig up her bedding). We called that "Going Full Kraken." At the first puppy social we attended, the trainer on staff witnessed it in action and recommended to watch for when she was getting overly tired or pent up and, before she could go Full Kraken, pick her up and give her a physical time out to give her a hard reboot (so to speak) before she got totally out of control. It worked like a charm and within a few days, she learned bite inhibition and stopped ripping up her bedding.

      All of this is to say, we have finally had a breakthrough these last few days!!! We dismantled the inside ex-pen in our main room and instead set up an old jumbo metal crate from one of our previous labs. She went into in immediately! So we put some soft bedding in the back, set a place where she can eat her food puzzles in the front, covered the top with towels (thanks, Luna's mom!), put her mat outside the door (she knows to sit on her mat when she first comes inside and to sit there while I prepare her/our meals), and tossed in a couple of stinky t-shirts. She has been going into it to nap ever since, now clearly preferring it over what was her previous favorite spot on the floor in the living room. We are thrilled!!! Today, after a long walk, I gave her a frozen kong treat (the one that looks like an open barbell stuffed with mashed potato mixed with her pulverized kibble) and was able to close the door and let her be for an hour. 60 blissful minutes of running mundane errands! I could watch her on my phone while I was out, so I know that when the kong was through, she did bark a few times. But for the first time, instead of going into full throttle freak out, she just put herself to sleep. Success! This seems to to correspond to her also finally starting to understand "no!", so perhaps she's reaching a developmental milestone? Here's to hoping we're finally on the right track! A HUGE thank you to everyone who replied to my post. I really appreciate the support!!!


    2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to happy_blackbird For This Useful Post:

      beth101509 (01-08-2015), doubledip1 (01-08-2015)

    3. #12
      Real Retriever
      Black Labbies's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 2014
      Thanked: 228
      Rescue remedy might not be Ellie's perfect fit, there are other homeopathies worth trying: Holistic Herbal: Treating Scared Dogs

      It took us 3 tries before we found our perfect match.

      This could even be diet related; creating unbalanced endorphins in the brain, or even an underlying food/treat sensitivity, or even hypothyroidism.

      All the best with Ellie's SA, please continue to be patient with her.

    4. #13
      Real Retriever
      SoapySophie's Avatar
      Join Date
      Dec 2014
      Kingston, ON
      Thanked: 163
      Awww that looks so comfy...great job and congrats on the progress!!
      Sophie: Born July 28, 2014
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    5. #14
      Senior Dog
      doubledip1's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 2014
      Upstate New York
      Thanked: 1700
      I love it! So happy for you and for Ellie! Sending you more good wishes she keeps it up!
      Hidden Content
      Sarah, human
      Luna, born 6/14/13, gotcha 8/18/13 and TDI certified 5/12/2015
      Comet, born 4/3/15, gotcha 6/9/15
      Double Dip, 25 y/o Draft/Welsh pony
      Gracie, 17 y/o DSH cat
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