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Hi folks, sorry it's been a while. Everyone is doing well though, Roxy is still going strong! We recently adopted an 11 month old male Dobie. He is a great dog, good with people and dogs. A knob on leash walking (but what teenage Dobemann isn't! lol)

But my main problem is getting him to chill out of his crate. I spoke to the rescue and they told me he pretty much spent 99% of his time in there. He is good in his crate and seems to like it, but I would really like him to come out and be part of the family now. It's been about 2 months, we started obedience training 2 weeks ago & I am working through the relaxation protocol (day3) I am an agility trainer, and he is getting plenty of both mental and physical exercise. I try to bring him out of the crate after a good walk or training session and just sit with him. At first he used to pace, so now I put him on leash so he can't pace. Then the toys were wayyy to over-stimulating, so I have removed all the toys. He will sit and chew on a bone, but once it's gone (or he is bored) he pops back up and starts pacing again. If I remove everything he sucks on his blanky which is great, but again once he is done he get up and tried to pace. If he cant pace, because of the leash, then he stands and barks in frustration. I have tried massage, relaxing music, I have even given him CBD to take the edge off, so I can reward him for just laying down. But he just wont, It's like he is just waiting for me to open the crate so he can run in and go to sleep. He doesn't seem to understand he can relax out of his crate also. I have tried leaving the crate door open, but he paces again and wont relax until I close the door.

So anything I am missing here? I am trying to be positive and rewarding calm behaviour. I know it's early days but I hate him being stuck in the crate all day unless we are walking or training. Or shall I just give up for now and try again in a few months? Yesterday I persevered for nearly 5 hours and no luck, my husband sat with him for two of those and he just cant seem to switch off :(
 

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I'm no behaviourist. The simple answer seems to be that you (and the situation) are stressing him out. Whether it's your expectations that he's not ready for yet or just your mere presence still. You didn't say how long you've had him other than "recently". It just seems from a desensitization point that you start with how he's comfortable now which is him in his crate with the door closed. I know it's sad for now, but I'm sure as he becomes more comfortable WITH you, he'll want to be with you more and more - after all, he is a Doberman!

I think the things you're trying are great and make sense, but it sounds like he just needs more time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm no behaviourist. The simple answer seems to be that you (and the situation) are stressing him out. Whether it's your expectations that he's not ready for yet or just your mere presence still. You didn't say how long you've had him other than "recently". It just seems from a desensitization point that you start with how he's comfortable now which is him in his crate with the door closed. I know it's sad for now, but I'm sure as he becomes more comfortable WITH you, he'll want to be with you more and more - after all, he is a Doberman!

I think the things you're trying are great and make sense, but it sounds like he just needs more time.
Thank Mary, we've had him 2 months. Do you think I should just keep crating for now or persevere trying to have him out with us once a day?
 

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When you say he previously spent 90% of his time in his crate, was that in the rescue, or in his previous home?

I obviously am not seeing him in person, but he sounds...anxious. As in, his temperament sounds anxious. The constant pacing and inability to settle.

What about trying an xpen as a "next step"? It's not exactly a crate, but it's a bigger space, still a bit more defined for him. If he can handle a dog bed in there, maybe that would give him a sense of a place to be?

Or, if he's pretty trainable, you could start teaching a "place" command, with a bed, out in your area, in baby steps, so he feels good and happy about being in a bed in an open area.

Just brainstorming.
 

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Before he can be comfortable interacting with you outside the crate, I think he needs to learn that there are places other than his crate where he can lie down without feeling threatened. I might try specifically teaching an extended long down on a mat, outside the crate, as an obedience job.

I would put the mat in a "safe" space in the same room as you, but nowhere near where you sit. And I would simply sit in that room—read a book; hang out—don't pay any attention to him while he is lying there, except when you have to make it plain to him that he has to stay lying down, the same way you would with any dog—the idea being that he has to stay in a down position and cannot get up and pace. He would be thinking of the down as something he just has to do as a part of his obedience training; you would be aiming to have the mat become a new place for him to be comfortable.

Most dogs have trouble with an extended down because they want to leave the mat to join their person—he would likely have trouble because he wants to get back in his crate, and because he wants to pace to relieve his anxiety. But most dogs on an extended stay (15 minutes or more) eventually learn to relax and just hang out until they are released, even when they have nothing to occupy themselves like a toy or chewy—perhaps he can manage the same thing if it is approached as a sort of job for him, so to speak. Work with him on the down just like you would with any dog you are teaching a long down to.

I think the essential part of this technique would be that you pay absolutely no attention to him—no coaxing him to be near you, no providing of treats, not even any talking to him—just sit there and insist that he stay in the down on his mat too.

I have no idea whether that would help—but it seems to me it might be a logical way to go.

I see that Meadowcat beat me to it with her post, but we are basically both talking about the same thing—teaching him a place command.
 

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Mel, yeah, same idea. I might do a raised bed like a Kuranda so it's very clear that it's a "place" for him. I might put it IN an xpen, and I might drape the sides of the xpen with a sheet or something to give him some added sense of safety, since he seems very anxious to me.

I would probably start feeding meals on the bed to create positive associations.

With a dog like this, I'd give him as much routine as I could - feed at consistent times, train at consistent times, certain times are for crate, certain times are for walks, certain times for the xpen...the more routine he can predict the more comfortable he will probably feel.

Sounds like a tough situation, and I'm sorry. My first girl who had really, really tough anxiety would pace a lot.

Have you tried a Thundershirt or anxiety wrap?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thankyou both for your great feedback. I have considered putting baby gates up and creating an "area" for him as opposed to his crate, but I don't really have anywhere that he would not chew up the things around him. I am bringing an old cot down today and will work on "place" some more. The place training we do at obedience Wednesday nights is not really effective because he is in a class with other dogs and they are way more interesting right now.
 
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