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Not using the crate as punishment?

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I've been wondering about this. My understanding is that the crate should never be used a punishment, but can also be used as a very valuable tool to give "time outs" and a space to chill out when things get out of hand. When Tama gets nippy with me, I calmly tell him "no bite" and then plop him in the crate for a few minutes without any scolding or comments of any kind. He cries for a minute, then calms down, I let him out, and playtime resumes. Does this constitute as using the crate as a punishment and will he hate his crate because of this? Or is this just a way of telling him firmly that playtime ends when he is being naughty? I'm having a hard time distinguishing between the two. Thanks in advance. 

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I think much of the difference between using a crate as punishment as opposed to a consequence or time out is the human's attitude.

Dogs are incredibly sensitive to our emotional states and there's a big different between being matter of fact as you describe when you're putting Tama in a time out and what it would be like if you were punishing him. Punishment is, I believe, an offshoot of anger, a strong, negative emotion that makes the act of picking the puppy up and plopping him in the crate an entirely different experience for the puppy. From what you describe, Tama's not any more negatively affected by the experience than he would be if he'd been playing with one of his littermates, bit too hard and the other puppy objected and told him off with a quick snark and broke off play. So often when this happens it's only a few minutes till all hard feelings are forgotten and it's game on again.

I think the results you're getting are confirmation that you're going about it the right way -- and that he's a pretty easy going pup (some might be objecting more, even without human emotional baggage). If he were going to hate the crate as a result of this, I think he'd be doing that already. ;)

 

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I teach my dogs that the crate is where they learn to relax and mine preferentially use their crates to sleep in.  You can pop them in a crate with a lick mat or a chew, feed them in there etc.  When your dog is playing and getting nippy you could try redirecting that nippy behaviour on to a tug or some calming obedience training. mix it up a bit so the nipping is discouraged and more appropriate behaviour is heavily rewarded in its place.  Once the training is finished pop him in the crate for some downtime, but make it a pleasant experience.  So the crate is associated with relaxing and downtime and the nipping is redirected onto a more appropriate behaviour.  You then dont confuse the 2 and the puppy grows to be very used to crating which can be useful for traveling and medical situations and for encouraging their off switch.  In the end it is about what works for your dog!

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Don't worry. You are going about it the right way. As Gentle Lake said, it's all about the attitude you use when you use the crate as a training tool.

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Thanks! That makes me feel better. He definitely isn't a fan of his crate - if it were up to him, he'd be out playing 24/7 I think. But he does seem to settle down in it reasonably well, so I guess that means he's doing okay. I definitely try to keep my emotions in check and if I feel like I'm getting too frustrated and overwhelmed then I'll leave him in the crate and get some time alone for a bit. Serves the same purpose for the both of us I guess! 

@herdcentral - this was what I did initially (redirecting him with toys when he misbehaved), but the little guy quickly used this as an opportunity to start training me :rolleyes: Whenever he felt I wasn't giving him sufficient attention he would start to do the specific behaviors that would get redirected, i.e. get my attention on him. Haha. They're too smart for their own good sometimes. 

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2 hours ago, tamapup said:

They're too smart for their own good sometimes. 

Actually, I think they're too smart for our own good sometimes. :lol:

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What they said.

And using the crate MORE often for GOOD things is important too - feeding, Kongs, etc.  Make it mostly a good place to be.  Then the "time outs" won't be a big deal, especially if they're short.

diane

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1 minute ago, diane allen said:

What they said.

And using the crate MORE often for GOOD things is important too - feeding, Kongs, etc.  Make it mostly a good place to be.  Then the "time outs" won't be a big deal, especially if they're short.

diane

This is so true. All I have to do is start preparing stuffed Kongs or food bowls in the kitchen and my dogs will run into their crates unbidden. It’s quite comical, really.

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My Mancer has gotten to the point where she just goes into the crate by herself when she knows I'm unhappy with her. It really doesn't seem.like punishment as she isn't all that bothered by being there. Which seems like I am going about things correctly, though I do admit that I still allow myself to get angry now and then which I know is incorrect. But it's become very rare these days that she needs a time out, so all in all I guess I've done things more correctly than incorrectly. (She'll be 2 in 2 weeks). :)

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