Barking in the crate ... again!

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by DanielS, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. DanielS

    DanielS Registered Users

    Jun 10, 2019
    Hello everyone,

    Our 5 month old Max has started his crate-time barking again. When we first got him sleeping in the crate was a struggle, in that we had to sit next to his crate and read him a bedtime story (no, really) when he was really little to get him to settle. We seeded the crate with fun things, and now he will voluntarily go in and spend time in there when he feels like it, although I wouldn't say that it is his super-happy-fun place. We did click-for-quiet and for the last 6 weeks or so he has been going to his crate and settling down like a good boy no complaints. He got to a point where he knew he wasn't supposed to bark in the crate and the good things only happened when he stopped.

    In the last week or so though his relationship with the crate seems to have changed again. Now when he goes in we are in for 5-10 minutes of frantic barking, even from a fed, watering, emptied, tired puppy who was previously falling asleep on the floor. After that he will settle down and sleep for hours (or all night) just like he used to. He has also started barking to wake everyone up in the morning again. We are being careful not to reinforce these behaviours, but click for quiet does not seem to be working anymore. When I did it the first time, he would reliably extent the period of quiet time waiting for reward to the point where he would settle indefinitely. Now he doesn't seem to care.

    We are wondering if anyone went through this kind of regression?. Maybe he is at the stage of life where he is pushing the boundaries to see if the rules really do apply all the time? Or are we looking at (oh god no) teenage puppy behaviour already?

    Let me know if you have any ideas ...

    Many thanks

  2. Ruth Buckley

    Ruth Buckley Registered Users

    Jan 31, 2018
    How long is he in the crate for? Do you absolutely have to use the crate? My dog got so much calmer when we stopped closing the door on the crate. We kept it til he was about 18months old but only closed the door in emergencies. Didn't use one at all with my last dog (she was a bit older when we got her ?10months) and she was never destructive.
  3. Debs

    Debs Registered Users

    Mar 2, 2014
    Crates are great, but your little one is pushing his boundaries at the moment. You have to ignore his behaviours. Every time you give in he wins!
  4. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

    Aug 25, 2018
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    This doesn't sound like a problem. You just need to persevere so he learns the rules still apply. Sit near the crate for those 10 minutes after you put him in, just so you can be sure the noise is not about separation but about having a tantrum... the latter you can safely ignore.

    Sorry to say it, but I don't think 'click for quiet' really works - nor clicking the dog for what they are NOT doing. The dog is NOT doing many things when they are quiet: They are not jumping up, not scratching their ears, not licking their butts, not weeing or pooing - there are always WAY more behaviours a dog is NOT doing, than what they ARE doing. Clicking a dog for being quiet, is really clicking a dog for NOT barking. They are just not going to make the connection in terms of what the click is for. It will just seem entirely random to them.

    In addition, the crate is a place where the dog goes to chill out - I wouldn't want to associate it with you clicking and treating operant behaviours constantly - or you will get a 'working, switched on' crate behaviour where the dog is 'ready' and observant of what's going on outside the crate. Not a sleepy relaxed state. Associate the crate with Kongs and chilling and switching off... not with shaping...

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