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Canine Behavior/Crate Training with a Varied Schedule

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Question
Dear Madeline, I have read you biography and I promise to read and rate your response within three days.  I understand that your time is valuable, that you are most likely spending at least 45 minutes of your time in response to my question, and I understand too that when questioners read and rate your responses fairly that you make random donations to animal shelters to help homeless animals.  In the interest of being appreciative of your time AND helping shelter dogs and cats, I agree that I will rate your response and give you fair feedback.

I want to know what the best way to crate train, Zulu, our 15 wk Border Collie-Belgian Malinois mix.  He will be getting his final vaccinations today and hopefully we can start taking him out in public to burn off some steam at dog parks.  We have already been using the crate at night and for general potty training.  He is starting to go in upon verbal or physical cues from us.  He doesn't see the crate as punishment and is OK with it.

I work from home 75% of the time but travel 25% of the time.  Up until now, when I am not on the road I will let Zulu spend his time 1/3 in Kennel, 1/3 in Xpen and 1/3 roaming the fenced off kitchen and family room where I have been working and monitoring him, all in my presence.

He has been pretty good so far (almost to the surprise of my wife who works in an office), fairly well behaved and starting to alert us to take him out to relieve himself.  In general this is good behavior, but we are wondering if he is growing overly attached to this lifestyle and has separation anxiety when I travel.

My wife is frustrated with the wild puppy behavior during her visits at lunch time when I am traveling.  We do not to leave him for more than 4 hours on his own.  He is frustrating my wife because he chews up the towels that cover most of his crate (which we have now removed), jumps up constantly on the afternoon walk, and then barks when put back in.

We are starting to wonder if we need to "break" him of this behavior by having me work in my office on the other side of the house and ignore him for 4 hours at a time.  I would then feed him and play with him like my wife would at lunch and then crate him and ignore him for another 4 hours.  Would we then continue this until he can quietly exist for 4 hours at a time consistently?

Eventually I want him to sit near me while I work if he wants and over time when we can trust him (1-2 years away) let him roam the house even when I am traveling.  We love our dog and like spending time with him, but we have no problem doing the objective/right thing to train him. If that means ignoring barking and limiting my contact in these early months while I work from home, I can do that.

Please provide some guidance and explanation the psychology involved.

Thanks,
Dan

Answer
Hi, Dan,

Thanks for your question.  What you've described is vastly more than just a crate  training issue about which you've somewhat asked.  You' seem comfortable with your crate training schedule, and it appears to be working.  As far as I can tell, your Border Collie-Malinois mix sleeps in the crate, and that sounds fine to me.  I wouldn't expect him to spend four more hours in his crate for behavior issues.  Your dog needs to be trained, and spending time in his crate won't train him, particularly in regard to the other issues you've mentioned.

Don't make the mistake oft confusing crate "training" with puppy training.  Given what you told me about your pup's behavior on leash, the lack of proper socialization waiting for the last round of vaccinations (most veterinarians are SO wrong about this), the fact that you're planning to take what is generally a high-octane mix of breeds to the dog park (not recommended) who is not yet well-trained, the wild behavior when your wife comes home to walk Zulu, and your pup's behavior when you're working at home,  I strongly suggest you hire a positive methods only, professional trainer.  If you're in my service area I would be happy to talk with you about my services at 646-265-8743.  I service NYC and metro area, New Jersey, and parts of south central Florida.  However, it looks like you're in Nenraska and I'm sure if you get referrals and utilize Google you'll be able to find a positive methods trainer with behavioral experience.  Make sure you get referrals and learn a bit about positive methods before you hire anyone.  Some trainers say they use positive-only methods when they don't.

Best regards,

Madeline Friedman, M.A.

Canine Behavior

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Madeline S. Friedman, M.A.

Expertise

I respond to public questions only. I'm not a veterinarian & do not respond to medical questions.Suggestions: Submit a question in one area of priority, as what I am able to address in this venue is limited. Provide as much detail re: the behavior & issue as you can. Tell me how & if behavior is a change from previous behavior & when the changes occurred. Let me know what you think may have triggered such changes & what you have tried so far to resolve it, & what the results were. Let me know what you want help with & what are your concerns & questions about the behavior. I have set up a payment/donation to myself for responding to questions. I donate most of it to animal shelters & rescues. I keep a small portion for my time. The minimum donation is $25.00 on PayPal. When I see that a donation has been made, I will respond to your question. You will be prompted to make the donation before submitting your question. When you have read & rated my response fairly, which must be at the time you read it, I will refund $5.00 back to you IF YOU REQUEST that I do so in your rating comments. If I ask for more details, please respond as a "follow-up" & not as a new question. If I don't respond to your question, I will refund your donation less $5.00. DO rate me fairly at the end of our exchange. I will be pleased if you DO nominate me for volunteer of the month - why not, if I was generous in my response? I may suggest something you were not necessarily ready to hear, but I am honest in the interest of helping your dog, & that is my goal. Please keep that in mind. Please do NOT contact me privately about Allexperts questions through my e-mail or website unless I have invited you to do so. That is an invasion of my privacy - thank you for respecting it. If you would like to contact me for actual dog training & behavior consulting, you may contact me through my Web site.

Experience

Own & operate dog training & behavior consulting businesses, Hoboken Dog Trainer, and ny-njDogTrainer, in the NYC & NYC Metro areas since 2002. Work with thousands of dog owners & their dogs, & shelter & rescue dogs. Active volunteer in dog shelters and rescues (rescues being "no kill" and shelters being municipality-run urban shelters that can and do euthanize dogs). AllExperts volunteer in "Dogs, Category 701" and "Dog Training" and "Canine Behavior" since 2006. When you submit a question, please make sure it's being submitted in the appropriate category as I volunteer in two different categories. Make sure you agree to the Virtual Contract (the instructions I outline for question submissions) and agree to read and rate my response when I answer in the body of your question. I make donations to various animal non-profits based on YOUR ratings. If you don't rate my response, or rate it unfairly, you have just denied a dog rescue org or shelter a donation. Keep that in mind.

Organizations
Professional Member of APDT for five years Founding Member of Animal Behavior Associates Behavior Education Network Former Board Member of IAABC, appointed by Founder Former Member of IPDTA in Canada Founding member of Behavior Education Network

Publications
Chronicle of the Dog (APDT, peer publication, numerous articles) Popular Dog Series magazine, numerous entries AOL in Everydayhealth.com Tonowanda News Morris County News Vermont News Boston NOW New York A.M. Polo Trace Newsletter The Dodo AOL

Education/Credentials
Counseling Psychology, Caldwell College Animal Science, Rutgers University Master of Arts Degree Permanent New Jersey State Teaching Certification (teach public school and university level) Numerous workshops, lectures, and seminars on dog training and behavior Ongoing self-motivated study in my area of expertise

Awards and Honors
Best Canine Coach Award, 2006, Rondout Valley Instructor's Training Course Society of Illustrators, second place international competition Jellybean Photographics, second place international competition Fashion Institute of Technology "Commitment to Illustration" award

Past/Present Clients
Testimonials from a number of clients appear on my Web site at www.ny-njDogTrainer.com under "Reviews." My customers include: Puppy owners wanting to get their puppies off to the best start; owners of mature dogs who want their dogs to have more obedience skills; fosters and owners of rescue dogs or shelter dogs; customers with special needs who need to train or retrain their dogs; housetraining and housebreaking; owners who have behavioral issues with their dogs such as house accidents, aggression towards humans, aggression towards other animals, inattentive dogs, unmotivated dogs, overly-exuberant dogs; and, more.

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