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Help! Crate Training

4017 Views 26 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Blaablaa

This is my first post on here and hoping to get some tips on crate training as we are having a complete nightmare!! We have a 12 week old cockapoo. He has been home with us for 10 days.

He absolutely hates his crate. We managed to get him in it for the first 9 days - he barked and cried the first few nights but the last two or three he seemed to be a bit quieter, although he had a period of whining most nights and messed in the corner most nights and his bed was really wet (we think he just sucked it as it doesn't smell). A couple of those nights we tried getting up when he cried, taking him to the toilet and putting him straight back in but he didn't really go and he messed in his crate anyway! So we probably haven't been very consistent - some nights we tried taking him out to the toilet, other nights we didn't. Neither seems to work but that might be our fault for being inconsistent.

The problem is we have to make sure he is really sleepy to get him to go in it (and stay next to the crate until he goes to sleep) and sometimes if you put him in there he just darts straight back out even if he is sleepy and i feel really bad just shutting the door on him and walking away. Last night he started shaking and hiccuping when he knew he had to go to bed so we (stupidly) relented and let him use an area which we confined with dog gates. He was totally quiet all night but then we discovered why - he somehow managed to escape, had the run of the house and pooed all over the living room :eek: I wonder if he was putting it on or genuinely scared?

What should we do??? Any tips? Are we just being soft and should we just put him in when he is calm but not necessarily asleep, walk away and leave him for the night or should we be worried about him shaking before he goes in? Last night was the first time he did that. We always leave in some chew toys, a hot water bottle and leave a lamp on and a radio low so we have tried everything we can think of.

Grateful for any help and tips - we are starting to despair!

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Hi Sarah,

Firstly, welcome to the forum :welcome:

Secondly, congratulations on your new puppy – we all love pictures on here so feel free to add one! Oh, and what is his name?! :)

Thirdly, don’t panic! It’s not too late to remedy this situation. However, and I hope you don’t mind me saying, crate training will require you to be a bit tougher and more consistent with him :p!

I would try and get your puppy to look at the crate in a positive light by putting him in there during the day with a yummy Kong filled with cream cheese or peanut butter and staying close by and letting him out WHEN HE IS STILL QUIET so that he knows he won’t permanently be closed in there. If he won’t stop crying sit by the crate without making eye contact and when he IS quiet give him a treat and praise him. He'll soon learn that being quiet works in his favour as well as yours. In the evening I’d tire him out, as you have done previously and coax him into the crate with his favourite toy.
I’d put him in the crate five minutes before you go up to bed and ignore any tantrums – don’t talk or use a sympathetic tone as you’ll simply reinforce his illogical fear of the crate.

Cockapoos are clever dogs and when he’s had a response from you to crying, barking, whining and perhaps even shaking he’s quickly realising that he can get you to come downstairs and fuss over him.

Either go downstairs and let him out for a wee in the middle of the night with no fuss or talk or play OR go the whole hog and ignore the cries until you’re ready to take him out in the morning. I don’t think crate training works with a mixture of the two.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!

Btw, my name is Turi and I'm getting my first Cockapoo in two weeks :jumping: So excited!!!
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Hi Turi,

Thanks for the reply. His name is Alfie, hopefully photo attached.

I think we will go with a few days cold turkey because the night we got up when he cried and took him out - he went maybe 1 out of the 4 times my husband took him out so i think he was messing about! We have a bed that covers half the crate and have left a space for him to go to the toilet if he really needs to -not sure if that is helping or not - we tried putting a puppy pad in but he rips it to shreds. Maybe we should put in a bed that covers the whole crate so he has to hold on?

Unfortunately I am away for the next two days so it is down to my husband to enforce the rules!!


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Oh he is so beautiful! I haven't seen a cockapoo that is so light in colour.

If you are going to go the route where you don't want him to go potty in his crate I would make the crate smaller. We have a 9 week old puppy and I have a divider in her crate so that it's only big enough for her to lay down and turn around. She doesn't want to potty where she sleeps so we haven't had any accidents. With that being said i had planned on taking her out in the night once or twice because i didn't want her to have to potty in her bed. Turns out she slept right through the night though. If you think he can hold it all night i would make the crate smaller. They seem to like that cozy feeling. If you don't think he can hold it than i'd either make it smaller and take him outside once or twice or leave it big and have an area for him to potty away from the bed.

I agree that consistency is important, but don't stress out too much. WHen i feel overwhelmed with Olive i stop and remind myself that she is a little puppy and i am a grown woman..I decide how things are going to go. Not her! Trust me i've had my share of overwleming moments with her though!
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Alfie really is beautiful – random question but did you get him from Syml Cockapoos in Lincolnshire? I ask because I’ve only seen such light pups on Sylvia’s website?

Yes, by the sounds of things cold turkey is the way to go. I can only imagine how hard it is to ignore a crying puppy. I’ll be on here in two weeks complaining of the same issues I’m sure! However, enduring the cries for a few days is much more preferable to not settling into a routine and disturbed sleep in the long-run.

If Alfie rips up the puppy pads could you put them under the newspaper so that you don’t have such a mess to clear up in the morning if he does pee in his crate? Or, as Jaime suggests perhaps a smaller crate is the way to go?

Can I suggest a book that I read that really helped? It’s called ‘The Perfect Puppy’ by Gwen Bailey and it covers all the basics of puppy ownership. I read it cover-to-cover and am now forcing my boyfriend Marcus to do the same!

I've had to talk to Marcus about the importance of a well-trained puppy and the implications of not being involved in training at an early stage. I may well have been a bit heavy with him but he got the picture - I knew I had to do this as he's a complete softie! You might have to instruct your hubbie to be tough too!
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Yes, we did get him from Syml. He is a lovely colour but i can't tell you how dirty he gets!!! Luckily he is not too bad with baths because I think he'll be having a few! Where are you getting your cockapoo from? - do you have a picture?

We did read Gwen Bailey's book as so many people on here recommended it but it didn't really help us with the crate training problem although helpful for lots of other things.

Maybe we will try Jaime's suggestion of a smaller crate - it did come with a divider.

Once we have cracked that we need to work on the play biting (ouch) and the barking at you when he is told off - cheeky boy!
Oh dear… I can’t believe I guessed where your puppy is from. I’ve become well and truly Cockapoo obsessed lol!

We are getting our puppy from Broadreach Dogs in Cambridgeshire. She is an English Working cross and there are loads of pictures on here – do a search for Saffi. She is pale to though not as pale as Alfie. It was my boyfriend who demanded the pale pup but we all know who will end up cleaning her…!

Yes, I’ve heard the play biting is tough… those little piranha teeth…!
Hello and welcome, Alfie is a cutie - hard to stay mad at with a face like that!!

Some good advice given already and it is what I would also recommend.

With Arthur we always left the crate open in the day and encourageda him in with treats/games - my 2 girls actually used to get in with him (and often still do!!). We also put him in for short periods of time in the day a couple of times a day and let him out only after he was settled and gave lots and lots of fuss.
If he didnt settle we used to take him out for a wee/poo no talking no eye contact if he didnt do anything after 5 mins (he would often lie down and try to sleep outside!) he went straight back into his crate.
He was pretty settled after doing this for 3 days/nights. Its really tough to listen to them whine and sounding so miserable but they do settle. Oh we also put a blanket over his crate to make him more secure and cave like!! Oh where is his crate - ours was in the kitchen - we slept downstairs for the first 2 nights but would you consider placing his crate nearer to your bedroom and gradually move it further away to wear it will actually be?
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If it was me I would have the crate in my bedroom and let puppy out during the night for a comfort break no playing just out and back in. Think about it puppy is away from everything he has known now his new family expect him to adhere to a set of rules he has no experience of. Some people go cold turkey small crate utility room get on with it and it works for them but for me it was crate in bed room which was much less traumatic both for me Hattie and my neighbours! Whatever you decide be consistent if you keep moving the goalposts pup will feel even less secure.
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We have the crate next to our bed at night and that does help. During the day i move it to our family room. She willingly goes in it for naps during the day and i close her in during our meal times. I think they do like having the crate where you are.
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Thanks everybody for the replies. Turi, your pup looks really cute - you must be very excited!

We have the crate in the utility room with a blanket over it to try to make a den. I am a bit reluctant to have him upstairs where we have carpets because I suffer from allergies - I am totally fine with him apart from the occasional sneeze but that is because we have all tile floors downstairs and I hoover obsessively - I think sleeping in the same room will make me really bad so unfortunately for him his new night-time home is the utility room but it is a reasonable size.

Anyway, thanks for the great tips - my husband is going to try some tonight. It is funny, he popped him in his crate for 10 minutes earlier while he was doing something, let him out when he was quiet and praised him as suggested but then Alfie "sulked" with him after - wouldn't look at him or cuddle him (and he loves a cuddle!) so he felt really bad!! Does anybody else's pup do anything like that? They really know how to make you feel bad!

Fingers crossed for tonight!
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Keeping my fingers crossed that you have a quiet night too Sarah :)
If you really can't have the crate upstairs then I would start off sleeping downstairs with the pup until he has settled. Leaving a pup to cry is one approach - but the pup is a baby away from everything it knows and understands and I would rather avoid he pup becoming distressed.

Also don't forget every pup will be different about how long before it needs to go to the toilet and if it needs to go it will go regardless of how small or large a space you give it.

Establishing good routines may involve a few nights of disturbed sleep but you are hopefully setting yourself up for many happy years with your dog so well worth it.
Hi Sarah - My first post here was very much like yours. Something along the lines of 'help with crate training and crying all night!!!' lol
Lolly cried on and off for the first 6 nights we had her. The 6th night being almost all night long! I was at my wits end and posted on here and received loads of good advice. We had made the decision not to go to Lolly in the night and like you I was very reluctant to move the crate upstairs.
So following advice from here and our vet who we saw the same day on the 7th night we tried
DAP spray
All taking it in turns to wear an old t-shirt so it would smell of us and putting that in the crate
leaving the radio on
really tiring Lolly out before she went in

and lo and behold success! She slept through and has done so every night since. The vet seemed to think that she would have done without all the above as puppies seem to have one last ditch attempt to get their owner to come by crying loads before giving in!
It's tough love but worth it in the end. Lolly never learnt to love her crate but tolerated it and I found it reassuring to know that she was safe (as was my house) when I was out.
We chose to get rid of the crate when Lolly was 7 months old as she was fully house trained and I was confident she wouldn't chew anything. She now sleeps in her bed in our bedroom (so much for me not wanting the crate upstairs she ended up there when the crate went anyway but I love having her nearby!!!) lol
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We were really lucky with Gaia and her crate training, she only cried for 20 mins the first night, but did cry again about 2 am when I got up and took her out then she went back in the crate, cried for 10 mins. She improved every night until within a week she went into crate without crying, but she still awoke in the night to go out for a couple more weeks. Although I had broken nights I never had a mess in the crate.

I then read in the Caesar Milan book about giving them something smelly like a pizzle stick when you put them in, I didn't think I wanted to give that but half a puppy tubo and she looks forward to having that at bedtime. Sometimes she hassles us to put her in ..... once you work out what suits you both it will all be fine :)
Hi Sarah, this is your Alfie's-brother-Alfie's mum!
I expect you'll have managed by now, but my Alfie hated his crate at first too. Having done my homework a bit late, I now realise that I introduced it to him too suddenly, but I didn't really have any alternative as I have to put him somewhere that's safe for him and my belongings when I can't be there to watch him. (I live on my own.) And you're right, the Gwen Bailey book doesn't cover crate training.

However, after a few noisy nights and daytime spells when I'd pop him in the crate to go for a shower or to the shops or whatever, I tried softening the blow of putting him in by throwing some of his favourite treats, e.g., tiny bits of sausage or cheese or liver, into the crate, in which I'd placed a lovely squashy bed, so he'd go in more happily as a sort of game. Once he was safely in I'd sit on the floor for just a few moments talking to him in a quiet, happy tone. Then, without fuss, calmly retreat and get on with going wherever I had to go.
It certainly helped. However, he still doesn't really like it - he cries a bit, but does settle after 10 minutes or so. You just have to resist giving in. I don't have the crate in my bedroom, in fact he settles much better when I'm out of sight/earshot.

As long as I take him outside for a late night wee/poo he sleeps through until a reasonably acceptable hour and it's getting better all the time (touch wood!).
I started with the crate in the kitchen but moved it into the living room when the weather got really cold. I might move it back to the kitchen sometime.

If it's any consolation I'm struggling with the biting and hanging onto loose clothing at present. He also plays at 'digging' in the house, which could be destructive if I can't find a way of nipping it in the bud. He has a very stubborn streak and if you tell him not to do something it seems to make it twice as attractive to him! Ignoring and turning my back on him works best with the biting, but basically I just think he needs his energy channelling, which is why I can't wait to be able to take him out for a good romp about!

Good luck with the crate, and let us know how it goes. :)
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I have smudge in a crate with the door open, and the crate is in a metal playpen (used to be a puppy pen, but she learnt how to push the side down and jump out !). One day met her coming upstairs!:confused: so had to get a sturdier one. I leave the door open and put a bit of newspaper down outside the crate and a bowl of water. She has never pooed in the pen and is now dry through the night! I like the idead of her being able to get out the crate ifshe wants too. Hope that helps.
Just got to say....
Last night my Alfie went to bed in his crate without crying - for the first time! :jumping: So it does get better.
How did yours do?
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Hello all,

Thanks for all the lovely posts! Last night was apparently much better - or maybe my husband was so exhausted from the lack of sleep for the previous 10 nights he didn't hear him cry ! But he is pretty sure he was quiet for the whole night.

He took him out for a walk to tire him out (although he was more interested in watching the cars), gave him a kong stuffed with chicken which he loves and he went in okay. He also put down a double layer of puppy pads so he only managed to shred the top one and the bottom one was in tact with less cleaning up to do this morning. So I think we have taken a step forward and will persevere and be consistent with that approach. I don't know if leaving him an area to mess in slows down crate training but i think we will wait until we know he is okay with his crate before we divide it or put a bigger bed in - then we know that when he cries it is for the toilet, not for attention. What do you think??

It is really interesting to hear that his brother likes to dig the house!!! It must be a trait from that litter because he does it a lot too. Alfie is also really stubborn and a bit of an escape artist - we have given up on the play pen and the freestanding dog gates because he has escapred from both. He is always digging the base of the bar stools and also tried to dig my leather seats in my brand new car :eek: What treats does your Alfie like? Because ours is not really interested in the ones you buy in the shops but he loves chicken, cheese, tuna - it has taken us a while to work out what treats he loves and i think that slowed us down because we weren"t enticing him in with treats he liked. I might try sausage because maybe he will like that too if his brother does!
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So lovely to hear of brothers on the forum – I hope Saffi’s littermates’ owners join ILMC!

So good to hear you had a better night Sarah… hopefully you’re feeling more positive now?
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