So I have been MIA for the last couple weeks in my blogging. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it, but rather, the plates I have been spinning crashed and fell.
Have you ever noticed that when you are busy, you’re not just busy,…but every possible even that could happen, does? Story of my life. When you are a planner and thrive in routine as myself, this can cause a lot of stress if it’s not managed correctly. So what have I been up to??? Besides, work and back to school preparations for my son, we got a new puppy and my Young Living business has started to take off.
Meet Nucky! An adorable, cuddly, little ball of energy that I can barely keep up with. If you are unfamiliar with Rat Terriers they are a high energy, working dog breed – aka – I don’t get to sit much these days. He came to us from a family with 4 small children and unfortunately, they were not able to give him the time he deserved. Lucky for us, we had been looking for a puppy since my little Stitchers passed away a few months ago.
Nucky’s family had a nanny at their house all day, so he was never crate trained and is used to having a lot of action. When they dropped him off, he cried for an hour. It was heart-breaking. He was very loved, but doesn’t appear to have had many boundaries set up as the first thing he did was take a flying jump off the back of my couch…(this is not allowed at my house!!)
We are familiar with the terrier breed. Our last two dogs were a Pit Bull and a Boston Terrier. Very different temperaments, however, it seems all terriers are loyal, loving, smart, incredibly stubborn and strong willed, and will try to run the place if you allow it. Nucky seems to be no different.
The last 2 weeks, Nucky has been in Rachel boot-camp. Setting boundaries, learning manners, and obedience skills. Due to his complete disregard for rules, I have been more strict than normal to be establish as the “leader of the pack.”
Every morning I am up at 4:45 to take him on a run/walk and try to help him burn some energy before being placed in the kennel. This has actually been great on a couple different levels. First, it’s getting my butt out of bed and working out again. Secondly, it’s giving Nucky 1 on 1 time and a chance to work on obedience with him. He loves his morning walks and his little paws find my side of the bed about 4am every morning to make sure it’s not missed. He’s already learned to heel, sit, and jump up on command.
Crate training however, is another story. He’s terrified and seems to have a lot of separation anxiety. I’ve scoured every blog and article regarding Rat Terriers, crate training, and separation anxiety; trying to ease his mind and make sure he’s safe. So far, I’m failing.
We’ve tried leaving the gate open on the kennel and putting his food and water in there to encourage him to go in and out without being locked in. We have put in him in the kennel for short periods of time while we are home to show him being in the kennel doesn’t mean we are leaving. We tried having him sleep in the crate in our room, only for me to find him in the middle of the night with his head and neck out the top of the gate, attempting to escape. We’ve made it comfy, which he responded by shredding the blankets, my shirts, and the $40 pad to shreds in 2 hours. We have special toys for the kennel as well as kong balls with peanut butter and rawhides to keep him busy in his kennel. NONE OF THIS HAS WORKED!!
Remember how I mentioned, terriers are determined little guys??? Nucky is not only determined, but a little Houdini as well. This little 19 lb. ball of fury not only managed to tear up an area rug from inside the kennel and move his kennel across the room to find my two other rugs, he also managed to rip 3 bars off of his kennel and escape.
He goes into a complete panic when you leave or when he can’t see you. He moved his kennel across the room, chewing up my area rug and small rugs along the way. How a 19 lb. puppy has so much force is beyond me..I guess it’s sheer determination. He broke 3 bars off his kennel and escaped.
Due to safety concerns we decided to try putting his kennel in the laundry room with the kennel door open hoping he would also him to relax and gradually get used to his kennel. He does go into the kennel now, however, that was only after tearing a huge chunk of my trim off the wall and putting a hole in my door.
It’s incredibly frustrating. I have had dogs my entire life and have never run across an issue crate training like this before. On a positive note, it has been summer so the kids have been home enough that we have only had to have him in his kennel for a couple hours. Soon, however, they will be going back to school and I can’t imagine how much damage he could cause in 8 hours when left to his own devices. With him only being 8 months old and still teething, we do not trust him to run loose, unsupervised. More importantly, I’m very concerned that he will swallow a sliver of wood or hurt himself attempting one of his Houdini tricks.
I reached out to my vet regarding the issue. He had suggested using medication to help calm him in the crate while we recondition him. While this is a this short-term solution, the hope is we can help him find comfort in his crate and keep him safe while we are away.
The reconditioning began Friday night. We started by leaving the door open and throwing his toys in the crate and encouraging him to go get them. We have him at a point he’s comfortable going in and out of it. YES!!! Saturday morning we took him for a long walk and also introduced the medication. We then started crate training back up, putting him in there for 1 minute, 5 minutes, and finally up to 1.5 hours. He cried, he scratched at the gate a little, but it was definitely, a HUGE improvement. We were home, but hidden when we did this. We opened the garage doors, grabbed our keys etc. to imitate leaving. When he was quiet we would reappear and produce a treat or positive praising. Saturday night, we put him in the crate as we ran to McDonald’s (don’t judge me – I love Big Macs!) When we returned, he was actually laying relaxed in the crate and not crying..HUGE WIN!!
I typically spend Sunday mornings at Panera planning my week so this gave us a great opportunity to work with him again. I seem to be his trigger; when he doesn’t see me, he freaks out. My husband is home with him as we work to hopefully get him to 4 hours today. Fingers crossed!
I have also been looking into doggie daycares. Did you know they cost as much as a kid! My work offers a perk-up benefit that will reimburse you for child or dog daycare – one of the reasons I love the company I work for! I think I have found one for him that I’m hoping to take him to 1-2 times a week to help socialize and not keep him cooped up all day. Friday he goes for his evaluation and test run.
I will keep everyone updated on this. If anyone has had similar experiences and found a solution, feel free to reach out!