Cocker Spaniels/My 7 month old Cocker Spaniel barks whenever he is in the crate
QUESTION: We got our american cocker spaniel when he was 4 months old. We immediately crate trained him and he was potty trained within the first two weeks. At first, he loved his crate. We always gave him positive reinforcement and lots of treats and he didn't mind... until we were no longer in his line of sight. He is now 7 months old and while the barking and whining has subsided a LITTLE (we can now sleep at least 6 hours without being woken up) he still whines and cries for hours on end.
We have tried the "QUIET!" command, given treats after he finally settled down, and it worked for a couple of times. But as soon as we walk away, he starts crying again. We live in an apartment and since he is still so small, whenever I take a shower and place him in the crate, he cries the entire time until I let him out again.
We have also tried "pennies in a tin can" and that didn't work AT ALL. I think it just scares him more.
At this point, he is out of the crate 90% of the time we are home. Unfortunately, we do both work and go to school so he may be alone for 6-7 hours per day but if we are home, he is not in the crate, unless we have to shower or have 10 minutes to ourselves.
He gets PLENTY of exercise, plenty of love and affection, and does NOT have to go to the bathroom. We take him outside every half hour-forty five minutes to tire him out. He is pretty regular with his bowels and his urinating so I don't believe it is due to that.
I'd really appreciate any help with this matter, because I am starting to feel depleted. I have extensive knowledge in behavior modification but CAN NOT seem to figure this out!
ANSWER: He's begun to view the crate as punishment. First I'd like to know what happens when you confine him to the kitchen but not in his crate. Let's do that first. A baby gate is good because they can still see out so don't feel as isolated.
7 hours a day is way too much. Is it possible to get a dog walker to come mid-day or perhaps just let him out, have a little 1/2 hour playtime? Or doggie daycare?
You say he gets plenty of exercise. How long are his walks? When do you take him?
Is it possible for him to get some hard exercise in the morning? He's been sleeping - now he's full of energy and he's put back in his crate. Not good. This leads to frustration, lonliness and boredom.
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QUESTION: It's not exactly feasible to have a dog walker come as it can be pricey. I will try your suggestion of confining him to the kitchen and let you know how it turns out. Thank you.
Christina, try that and let me know what happens. I have a few tricks up my sleeve but he might be far better off simply being out of the crate.
Perhaps a neighbour (who loves dogs:) or a responsible teenager could pop in?
And I do wish you'd try to give him a good workout in the morning before he's left
for hours. A tired dog is a good dog :).