Lessons in Puppy Ownership: Crate Training is Grating

Olive was unimpressed with her grooming experience Monday at PetSmart. Her hair was straightened and she was given a bandana, leaving her feeling altogether violated.

We’ve decided to crate train our four-month old goldendoodle because we’d like to contain the pee-and-poop storm for the time being. Dogs are, after all, den-dwelling creatures, so the sooner we can get acclimated to a crate, the better.

Olive thinks otherwise. Olive thinks her kennel is Rikers Island. Olive thinks she’s being thrown in solitary confinement without proper cause. So, she, likes most puppies who are crate trained, whines until she collapses from exhaustion.

According to several videos on YouTube – which yes, has been a surprisingly regular source for puppy training advice – it’s important to ignore whining as a puppy gets used to being left alone in their crate. They whine because they miss their pack – in this case, Olive misses me and my girlfriend. If we respond to the whining, she’ll think it works. It’s like ignoring a fire alarm hoping the fire just goes out on its own.

Olive’s whining tests my psyche in ways I never knew possible. Last night, I broke out in hives. On her second night in the crate, I nearly went Jack Torrance in The Shining. It goes against my every last instinct to ignore something that’s in distress. Each night, as she whines herself to a coma, I think, “Shit. The zombies are here.”

To her credit, Olive’s whine game is top notch. When barking doesn’t work, she’ll start to channel other animal sounds – a cat, a llama, a goat, a rooster, a zebra, an ostrich. She crows. She yodels. She howls. She whimpers. She yells. She coos. At times, she sounds like she can breathe fire. At other times, she sounds like she’s about to combust.

These are the joys of owning a puppy. For every puddle of pee we have to clean up, just when we think she’s out to sabotage our apartment lease by way of rancid urine, she’ll do something worthy of our forgiveness. She understands when the leash is on that we’re going for a walk, and where she once would play dead and drag along the frozen sidewalks, she now walks at our side. She knows tug of war now. She’ll roll onto her back and let you pet her stomach.

She’s learning. As dog years go, these must just be the terrible twos.

Last night, I wanted nothing more than to sit on a heating pad while eating pretzels with peanut butter and jelly and watching the Vikings-Giants game. Olive wanted to play. She also wanted to sniff every odd corner of our apartment, looking for fallen food or treats, ultimately settling for dust bunnies and crumbs, forcing me to yank debris out of her mouth every three minutes. I’m always concerned she’s looking for a shoe to poop in or a dark-colored shirt to pee on so that one of these mornings we’re left with a little surprise.

She’s a surly little bastard, and she’s curious about her strange new home, her strange new owners and her strange new crate. I’m fine with that. I just wish she would be a little quieter about it.


7 thoughts on “Lessons in Puppy Ownership: Crate Training is Grating

  1. That is the cutest picture of her I’ve ever seen! Haha…if she could speak she would have used cussed words. I cant wait to squeeze her again :)

  2. Have you tried covering her crate with a blanket or something? It makes it feel more like a cave (den animal) and it mutes the sound a little bit. Also, music worked pretty well with my dog. Berkley got a steady dosage of OAR when she was a pup.

  3. Man this gives me flashback of a year and a half ago when we were going through the same thing. I swear crying and whining is my krytonite. I can’t stand it and feel the absolute need to fix it somehow. I swore to myself by day five that I would never get a puppy again.

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