To recap: I now had my puppy, but my puppy wailed like a banshee every time I put her in her crate. I recall several nights on Google at 2AM typing in keyword searches like “my dog won’t stop barking in it’s crate, what do I do?”
But the bonus of using an AKC Breeder of Merit was that I could ask my breeder for advice and after I was unsuccessful in implementing her tips, she reached out to another Breeder of Merit: Windimir German Pinschers for additional advice. Given the crate-in-the-bedroom thing wasn’t working for me, I was instructed to put the crate in the furthest corner of my house, give Ayla a stuffed animal for company, put in ear plugs, and not give into the wailing for any reason. I was to do this for three days, because I had to win the battle of the crate.
Yes, it was clear my puppy did not like being in her crate. Some people might’ve given up and allowed their dog into their bed just to shut it up, but to me, a well-trained dog is not a dog that gets to decide what it will and will not do. Crate training is recommended by the majority of vets and it is one of the best means at keeping your dog safe when you are not home. Ayla was going to have to get over it.
So for the next three nights, I put Ayla in her crate in the kitchen. I lifted her water bowl at 7PM. I put a towel over the crate. I gave her a little stuffed German Shepherd whom I nicknamed “Little Buddy” and she only got him when in her crate. I turned on a white noise machine. I gave Ayla a handful of hotdog bits, and I snuck upstairs real fast while she ate them. (Ayla might’ve hated being in her crate, but she loved hotdogs, and always went in willingly because that was the only time I gave her hotdog bits.) Crating Ayla downstairs did not stop the wailing, but it did ease the duration. While it felt like a knife to my stomach hearing my little banshee screech, it did dwindle down from 30 minutes to 20 minutes to 10 minutes to 2 minutes over the course of a month.
I recorded this from the 2nd level of my home; basically, it sounded like Ayla was fighting off demons everytime I put her in her crate.
She did have a few accidents in her crate during those first few days because I had to ignore any crying as I couldn’t distinguish between needing to use the bathroom and her temper tantrums. But I went to Walmart, bought several yards of cheap fleece, cut them into crate sized pieces and got a bucket. If I discovered she’d had an accident, I’d wipe her crate down with vinegar water, throw the wet fleece in the bucket, and replace it with a dry fleece. I am also very grateful for my dog walkers who helped with this during the day. For her daytime crate routine, I made sure Ayla always had something to chew and I changed the white noise for classical music.
Aside: I thought it wouldn’t matter whether it was talk radio or classical music, but apparently studies indicate classical music is more calming to dogs. Basically regular music verses talk radio makes no difference. It’s pretty funny because Ayla knows when I turn on the NPR station for classical music that it’s time to go in her crate, because I personally can’t stand classical music, so if it’s on, it means I’m leaving.
For chew toys, I could not get Ayla interested in Nylabones at all. However, because I was leaving her in her crate unobserved, I wanted to make sure whatever she was chewing was safe. I wound up using bully sticks from Petco (Walmart’s brand smelled horrid terrible), Himalayan Dog Chews, and an elk antler (I read deer antlers are at risk for splintering.) I watched her for a few hours with each of these things before I would include them in her crate routine.
I did not leave her with soft toys like ropes or stuffed animals because I was worried she’d tear them apart and eat the bits. Ayla is a pro at disemboweling stuffed beavers. Her first one lasted a month. Her second one lasted 24 hours. After that, I only bought her stuffingless toys, which I am mighty impressed with because they hold up. Ayla has lost three teeth while playing tug-of-war with her raccoon, and they still have the necessary squeakers that seem to give Ayla much delight.