How do we keep our dog from making a big fuss in the morning?
August 29, 2008 9:02 AM   Subscribe

DogTrainingFilter: How do we keep our dog from making a big fuss in the morning?

We adopted an 8 month old border collie / beagle mix last weekend. We were told she was crate trained and she does seem to be. For now, she sleeps in her crate in our bedroom. (She was sick when we got her and we wanted to keep a close eye on her. She's doing better now.)

While she isn't overly eager to go in her crate at night, she goes in with a little guidance and no shoving at all. We reward her with a treat. She's quiet or mostly quiet when we're going to sleep, and sleeps through the night without any fussing. However, twice this week my husband has had to get up early (4:45am) to go to work. He wakes up and leaves the room. A few minutes after he leaves the room, the dog starts whining, which eventually elevates to full on barking.

What is the appropriate response in this situation? My husband and I often wake at different times, so we'd like her to stay quiet even if one of us gets up and leaves. I'll admit I made the mistake of taking her out of the crate the first morning she cried, but only because I was afraid she had to pee. The second time I used a different tactic and tried silently waiting out the whining and barking. No comforting words, no yelling at her, no acknowledgment of her whatsoever. My husband did re-enter the room a few times, but also (mostly) ignored her. She barked and whined until 5:30am (45 mins) when my alarm went off, at which time I turned on a light, used the bathroom, and after making sure she wasn't making any noise, let her out of the crate.

Is this the right thing to do, or should we be doing something else? 45 mins is an awful lot of barking to endure at that hour of the morning. Should I try telling her "quiet", or should we move her crate out of the bedroom? Oddly enough, she's fine if we leave her in the crate during the day, and if only one of us is around, she doesn't mind being left alone in a room. She does, however, cry and scratch at doors if both of us are home and one of us goes into a room with a closed door (for example, the bathroom). In those cases, we can usually distract her with a toy or something.
posted by geeky to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can your husband take the dog out to pee and then feed her in the crate? This might take care of it and she might be able to go back to sleep.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:27 AM on August 29, 2008

if you just got her last weekend, i would say this is normal behavior and i wouldn't do too much to try and change it. That is to say this dog's got a ways to go adjusting to her new home and some stuff like this is to be expected.
One thing you could try is letting her out of the crate when he leaves, to just sleep out of the crate. My dog did not respond very well to his crate and some problems went away when we stopped overdoing it with the crate.
But main thing is to expect some stuff like this for a little while as she adjusts. Probably, it'll get better and go away and be some distant memory of when you first brought her home and she was freaked out a bit.
posted by alkupe at 9:39 AM on August 29, 2008

Peanut butter filled kong or wet food in a kong frozen over night.

Guaranteed dog pacifier for 2 hours.
posted by iamabot at 9:50 AM on August 29, 2008

Seconding alkupe: the first week, hell, the first month we got our dog, I thought we weren't going to make it. Things will be in flux for some time.

Ignoring her was absolutely the right thing to do, but I agree that if you find a solution that works for you involving less crating, that's perfectly okay.
posted by nev at 10:00 AM on August 29, 2008

"..but also (mostly) ignored her."
Ah. He did not ignore her.
The dog was barking, and it got attention.
You have trained the dog to bark in the morning for attention.
You lost that round.

Consistency is very important, especially with something as smart
as a border collie mix. Be thankful that it is mixed with something else.

Leave the crate in the bedroom.
Have your husband open the crate when he gets up, and leave it open;
or leave the crate closed, and train him to ignore the dog completely,
and shake a clean, empty beverage can with about 4 pennies in it when
the dog barks. If the dog does not stop barking, you will have to escalate
your response until it does, or you will have lost again.

Is this your first dog? Have you ever been to dog school?
posted by the Real Dan at 10:44 AM on August 29, 2008

We had a similar situation...and here is what we did - she is a year old now and doing much better.

Night before put some dog food, then peanut butter on top in kong...put in freezer

I am the first person up and I pee first, then return to the bedroom and let dog out to go outside to pee (dog usually whines a little during the time I leave the room...but I have my priorities!). Then I let the dog back in and she comes in the bathroom while I get ready. I do not play with the dog at this time - actually I try to ignore her as much as possible, but dog enjoys being near me.

When I am ready to go, I get the frozen kong. Tell her what a good dog she is and tell her to go to her crate. She goes right in and she gets the kong. I leave and rumor has it all was relatively quiet until my better half gets up.

Now she has graduated to not being in the crate at night (just during the day as she will eat the couch!) and we just have a baby gate across the door. Then when I leave in the morning, I take down the gate so she can wander the house. I usually give her the kong downstairs in the living room when I leave. Then it is completely quiet upstairs -- until she comes and decides that my better half needs lots of kisses. But that is not very often.

Also -- if your dog is in the crate all day (and even just at home alone) it is VERY important that they get enough exercise. This is not only for their health, but for your sanity. If they are sleeping all day while you are gone, why should they sleep through the night???

This was long, but I hope that it helps!
posted by rvrlvr at 12:29 PM on August 29, 2008

How long are you letting the dog out for each day?

It sounds to me as if you guys are keeping her penned up anytime you aren't directly walking her, and I'm sure that can't be one would get a dog only to keep it crated. Right?
posted by batmonkey at 1:01 PM on August 29, 2008

Response by poster: Just to clarify, the dog has run of the house (with the exception of a few off limit rooms) whenever we are home with her. The only time she is in the crate is at night or when we leave the house. We walk her at least twice a day (aside from when she goes out to do her business) and give her as much exercise and play time we can. We are definitely not keeping her in the crate any time we're not directly walking her - that would be cruel.

I should also point out that she doesn't really have to pee when she cries. I took her out that one time because she was on steroids that made her pee more. So if we don't need to let her out to pee, I don't want to give her a Kong just because she's crying. I feel like that would be rewarding the bad behavior.

We want to work up to letting her sleep out of the crate, but right now it's important to use it because she was sleeping on the bed in her previous home and we don't want her sleeping on the bed in our home.

This is out first dog together. We've both had dogs growing up.
posted by geeky at 4:40 PM on August 29, 2008

nth-ing the notion that it's too early too tell yet.

But, if the problem doesn't stop after a while, you might need to go a step further than ignoring the bad behavior. You'll have to reward the behavior you want.

It's tricky, but you'll have to teach the dog that staying quiet will be rewarded. Establish a command word that the dog will learn to associate with being quiet ("Quiet!" seems appropriate enough). When the dog starts to whine, give the command for quiet in a way that will startle the dog long enough to stop whining. Then give a treat. Repeat as necessary.

The key is, you have to be quick enough to give the treat just as the dog quiets herself-- you only have one second tops, or the association will be lost (according to what I've read, a dog can switch focus numerous times in a single second). The idea is, the dog will come to learn that its controlling its impulse to make noise is a good thing. If you get an instance of an exemplary response to the quiet command (she stops barking and lies back down into sleep position), give her a "jackpot" of treats-- a few treats one after the other, with lots of "Good girl!" showered on her.

Good luck!
posted by Rykey at 6:25 AM on August 30, 2008

"at which time I turned on a light, used the bathroom, and after making sure she wasn't making any noise, let her out of the crate.
Is this the right thing to do"


However, what was she sick with? She may need to have more frequent pee breaks then the usual 8-month old until she's fully fit again. Is she still on any meds? You should ignore fussing - but you have to be fair about her needs.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:27 PM on August 30, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions, everyone!

Lesser Shrew, she was sick with a bad case of kennel cough and is still on antibiotics, but hasn't had any problems with messing in the house. We're taking her out regularly and we know the barking / whining is definitely not about needing to go out.

When talking about this with a friend, he pointed out that she is probably trying to keep her "pack" together, which as a border collie mix makes a lot of sense.

Last night, we ran into the same problem again. (FWIW, this is definitely not an exercise issue, as she was out of her crate all day yesterday and went on a nice 1.5 mile hike. Also not a bathroom issue, as she had just been out to do her business.) We put her in the crate (which she now goes in of her own free will!) and got ready for bed. I got in bed, and my husband left the room to finish up some things downstairs. Shortly after he left, the whining and barking started. I let it go for a few minutes to see if she would stop on her own, but it was escalating to scratching at the crate bed and door. I tried yelling "Quiet!" and praising her when she was, but this just seemed to aggravate the situation. I finally got out of bed, crouched in front of her crate, stared her in the eyes, and told her "SIT!" (which she knows very well). She sat and stopped barking. I got up, closed the bedroom door and got back in bed. She didn't make another peep! My husband came back in the room a few minutes later and everything was just fine. So maybe we had a breakthrough last night, where she learned making a fuss won't get her out of the crate? I guess time will tell. I'm thinking in the meantime, we need to gradually get her used to being comfortable with having each of us in different, possibly inaccessible, rooms.
posted by geeky at 6:52 AM on August 31, 2008

« Older Who recalls these posters?   |   Do you know of small towns in the Adirondacks? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.