Dogs with separation anxiety can exhibit extremely destructive behavior, such as eating your couch. To try and combat destructive behavior, owners may opt to crate their dogs while they are away, only to find that the crates get destroyed. This step by step guide will help you to change the feelings of your brindle bull terrier, so he thinks of the crate as a personal paradise, instead of prison.
Step One: Positive Entry
Before you begin, make sure to stock up on your dog’s favorite treat, broken up into small pieces, and choose a command such as “kennel” or “crate up.” Speak the command to your dog, walk him calmly into his crate, repeat your command, and present the treat as you close the door.
If your dog is extremely apprehensive about the door being closed, break this step down into smaller steps. Some dogs will need to start by simply approaching the kennel, while others will be calm in an open-door kennel, but will need time to adjust well to a closed-door.
For dogs that exhibit panic when the door is closed—typically associated with separation—wait patiently by the door so your dog can see that you aren’t going away, and present the treat while repeating the command once they’ve calmed down. You may then open the door and let your dog out again.
Repeat this positive association process often and as many times as necessary for your dog to calmly be crated.
Step Two: Positive Association
Dogs start to hate being in their crate for two main reasons: they are only crated when owners are gone, or they spend too much of their day there. Interestingly enough, owners who worry that their dogs will spend too much time in the crate tend to only crate their dogs when they leave, creating negative association. To create positive associations with staying in the crate or kennel, make the kennel a place for scheduled meals.
Staying by the door can help your furry companion feel comfortable with the new eating schedule. If your dog won’t eat, try feeding with the door open, or using pieces of food as treats until you are feeding the whole bowl at meal times.
Step Three: Crate is Safe
Crate your dog in your room during the night, situated so you can be seen. Make your verbal command for your dog to “kennel” part of your nightly routine—perhaps after you’ve brushed your teeth. Dogs thrive on routine and may begin to put themselves to bed when they see you brushing.
Be prepared to be patient. You may have some noisy nights, but don’t give in to the temptation to scold, comfort, or respond to their plea for attention.
Step Four: Crating and Separation
As your brindle bull terrier becomes more comfortable being crated with you still home, begin implementing short periods of absence. These can be literal absences or pretend absences, such as spending increasingly longer periods of time in a separate room. When you let your dog out of the crate, don’t make it a big deal. Remember, the goal is to make time spent in the crate and away from you a perfectly ordinary part of your dog’s day.