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sweet_ceana

should I take the crate away???

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As many of you know, Ceana "just ain't right," in the head. We have made fantastic progress in almost every area of her behavior, exept for one. The damn crate is killing me. She gaurds that crate like she is cujo. She will make a ton of noise and look scary, but there is no bite behind her bark. We tried ignoring all of her bad crate behavior for a couple months.(IE... not rewarding with attention- NOT putting off dealing with it) No change. We have tried to tackle the crate issues using confrontation. Ie... correction and you are not allowed in the crate unless the people feel you are so blessed. We tried this for a couple months- no change. We have tried to be non-threatening around her crate. I can sit by and touch her crate and after time when she relaxes look her in the eyes and talk to her. (Embaressing to admit she calms down when you sing to her.) This gave us an itty bitty improvement, but the behavior has now expanded.

 

Ceana's issue was only with her crate at home. We took her to the last rescue event, and she started gaurding the portable crate. ARGGGG! The behavior is expanding. Obviously what I thought was an improvement was not. So here is where I need some opinions. Should I just take the crate away? She is fine in the house when we are gone. Either she is associating this behavior with all crates since she is in the habit of gaurding her crate. (Ceana is very schedule oreinted and I am leaning towards this.) Or she is getting too big for her already too big britches. So what do you all think? Should I just take it away completely to loose the gaurding association or should I continue with the non-threatening approach and take this as a "things get worse before they get better," moment?

 

As to medication- there is a rift in our household. I would like to start her on some anxiety medication to see if we can alieviate her of the fightened state she goes into. DH doesn't want to medicate her unless we have exhausted all other options and nothing works. DH's professional, family, and schooling experience have made him feel this way towards meds and he is not against them. He just feels we haven't crossed the line yet, and I feel we have. (Although he admitted he is getting really close to his line) ** I belive that there will be medication in the near future.

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Based on what you describe, my concern would be that if the crate were removed from the house, the behavior might transfer to something else (a corner, an area under a table or piece of furniture, etc). It might not, but if it does you could end up with a bigger problem since you can't remove every space she might start to guard from the house.

 

There is a protocol in Click to Calm to help a dog who resource guards a crate, in particular. You might check that out. It is, I believe, different from the approaches that you described in your post.

 

Other than that, medication might be a very reasonable option to consider. It might lower her threshold enough for training and conditioning to work.

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Can you elaborate? When you say "guarding", is that when she's IN the crate? And she's acting out towards anyone approaching? Is this with people, dogs, both?

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Yes, she is in the crate when she tries to make herself seem as scary as possible. It is a big show to make everyone go away. She will not bite, just growl, bark and snarl. She does this to people and to dogs. If she were a person she would be hiding yelling "Go away! Leave me alone!"

 

 

Rootbeer- We have closed the crate for days at a time and she doesn't gaurd any other area of the house. She will stand and sit in front of her crate , seemingly nervous, and ask to go in. As soon as you open that door though she starts telling you to "GO AWAY!!"

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Yes, she is in the crate when she tries to make herself seem as scary as possible. It is a big show to make everyone go away. She will not bite, just growl, bark and snarl. She does this to people and to dogs. If she were a person she would be hiding yelling "Go away! Leave me alone!"

 

Sweet Ceana,

I have the exact same problem with my Ben. Ben doesn't guard the crate from me but will guard it from other dogs and people. During the summer, I stay with my boyfriend and his two teenage daughters. I didn't realize until too late that Ben was guarding his crate (he was shut in it in the far corner of the living room) and felt like he was successfully scaring the girls and their assorted girlfriends. They came in the house, he barked, they went into the bedrooms. Since it worked at a distance, he increased his guarding of the crate up close escalating to actually coming out of the crate and snapping at my boyfriend. This degeneration happened pretty quickly, probably over the course of a couple of weeks.

 

After talking it through with a friend, I took his crate away. I really didn't want to since the crate is Ben's "happy place" and I feel secure knowing he's shut in despite the chaos of everyone coming and going. I started shutting him in the bedroom when I had to leave the house so he couldn't see the girls and shutting him in the bathroom at night (so he wouldn't crawl under the bed and keep waking Andy up). It worked like a charm. He didn't transfer the behavior or try to guard anything else. I did blockade the corner that his crate had been in for a couple of days in case he chose to guard that but he didn't. He continues to guard his crate in the car but I am the only person who has to handle him there so its a non-issue for me. I have worked on desensitizing him to people near his crate in the past but in this situation, I just couldn't control the other people in the environment enough to make it work.

 

Ben still gets snarky if he thinks someone is going to step on him but that's a slightly separate issue. Like Ceana, Ben "just isn't right" and is never going to be. I have considered anti-anxiety meds but haven't actually tried any yet. If I were you, I'd take the crate away and see how she does for a while. It's doesn't sound like it will make the behavior worse and the crate disappearing should be easier on her than just having it in the room but locked.

 

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

Lisa

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I don't have any first hand experience, but Jean Donaldson has a book out called "MINE" http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB740 it is all about resource guarding. Maya my 5mo old has shown some signs of dog to dog resource guarding, but I wanted to read about all resource guarding and nip it in the bud while she is still young. I am still in the middle of reading it, but she has sections on resource guarding areas and crates.

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Since she's already transfered the behavior from the crate at home to the portable crate, I'd be a little cautious about taking the crate away. A dog can tranfer the behavior to other things, like under the bed, behind the couch, etc. That's exactly what my sister's dog did when we were told to take away his crate. Check out Pryor's "Click to Calm" and Donaldson's "MINE!" both are fantastic, and a good behaviorist can set you on the right track.

 

The other thing is, before getting antianxiety meds from the vet, try Bach's Rescue Rememdy (a flower essence you can find at health food stores) or some form of DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) that you can get either from your vet or at any petstore--I think one brand is called Calming Zone. If you do deside to go with meds, do your research since different drugs will do differeent things. For example, there's one antianxiety med out there that will tire out their body, but leave their mind still racing. Not good.

 

Best of luck, and find yourself a great CAAB, or at least a great CPDT.

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Could her issues be getting worse due to the stream of foster dogs that you have coming and going? If she is a very schedule oriented dog maybe she is getting stressed by the ever changing pack and that is her way of dealing with it. The rescue event was probably also stressful for her and it would make sense that the behavior would come out in that sort of situation.

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I think KelliePup and Maralyn make good points. There's been a lot of change at your house, on a regular basis, and that may be pushing Ceana over the edge. When we brought Buzz home, as wonderful and as fun a dog as he was, Shonie felt a lot of pressure, (we discovered later, after she started attacking Samantha) and we had some changes to make in terms of how we dealt with all the dogs, not just Her Royal Quirkiness. I still see Shonie getting more anxious when there's too many changes in her routine. A lot of time, the changes don't seem like that big a deal to me, but they add up and send her over the edge.

 

You've added a new family member and taken in another foster dog. Dogs don't act in a vaccuum, and that's a lot of change and added relationships for Ceana to navigate.

 

KelliePup's point that Ceana has already transferred guarding from her regular crate to a travel crate is a good one. I'd be thinking seriously about getting a behaviorist in. To me, it seems like you guys have done all you can, as very interested and educated amateurs. It's time to call the professionals in.

 

Good luck,

 

Ruth

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