(Un)Crate Training

This is Penny’s crate:2.1

It may not look like much, but I’d argue it’s the best training tool out there

Penny’s crate is her home, her domain, her safe spot. Piled with comfy bedding, it’s a cozy retreat.


When her bedding is in the wash, Penny gives me the saddest, “Hey, you stole my house!” look

Combined with positive reinforcement, crate training is an invaluable resource for growth and development. From house training to separation training to basic safety, a crate is great. Penny loves her digs, and when I’m heading out she darts right in to curl up and enjoy a treat.

That said, crates have limitations. Namely, they are crates. My apartment’s not very big, but it’s got slightly more room than a crate for Eko to stretch out in. Granted, Eko usually curls up most of the time in a space smaller than a crate but you know what I mean. If he wants to hop up for water or a stretch, he can.

A few months ago I tried to uncrate-train Penny. Despite some initial success the overall results were less than stellar.


Penny tried some artisanal woodworking


Then took her artistic talents to leather materials

I thought these two incidents were aberrations, until one day I received the following text from Emily.


“Just came home to this. She goes back in the crate. Now.”

First, Eko was relieved to know he wasn’t blamed for the above crime. Second, I was relieved to know Emily wasn’t calling off our engagement. Third, Penny was relieved of her new privileges and went back to being crated each time we left. In retrospect, I didn’t set Penny up for success and tried to make the switch too early.

Now, with the help of some 21st century tech and a bit more thoughtful planning I’ve started to uncrate-train Penny again. The first step, which I should have been more diligent about the first time around, is to make sure Penny is exhausted.


It doesn’t take much encouragement, but before uncrate-training sessions,Eko helps make sure Penny is run ragged

Next, I follow the same routine I usually do when leaving and give the pups a small treat. Except now Penny gets hers on the couch. Here’s where my new eye-on-the-table camera comes in handy. For Penny’s first stints alone I would just head to the bottom of the stairs and keep an eye on her while I answered a few emails.


It sure beats crossing my fingers and hoping for the best


I’m happy to report Penny’s largely adopted Eko’s habits of snoozing


But, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me a bit anxious when I watch Penny hop off the couch


That’s where my strategically placed toy-field comes into play. It entices Penny to (hopefully) keep her jaws where they belong


I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but so far the results are quite promising. I’ve watched Penny nap, play with her toys and head right back to napping

Is it wise to try uncrate-training again so close to my wedding? Some would say not. But I think Penny is ready and I’m ready to help her succeed. And it’s probably too late for Emily to back out anyway! I hope.

I also managed to record some video of the new camera helping us train so check back tomorrow for the full report.

40 thoughts on “(Un)Crate Training”

  1. Shared this with a friend who adopted one of our two year old still puppy rescues. Didn’t want her to think she was alone in the world. And your example of patient practice (untrust and verify!) is perfect!

  2. Penny has “grown up” a lot since your original un-crate training failure! Looks like (paws crossed) things are on the UPSWING in that department now. I’m sure she’ll make the perfect flower girl at the wedding (tee hee).

    Pam and Sam

  3. The photo of Penny in the destroyed room should be titled “Mayhem’s Revenge”, or “I’ll Show Them”. But, it may not even have been Penny. It looks more like the CIA were hunting for someone with a similar name, and Penny saved the day by teaching them to check their facts better next time. Hey, it sounds good to me, but I really doubt that Emily would fall for it. I can’t blame her for being a bit upset. It will all work out eventually, but sooner than later is always preferred. Good luck.
    Dottie and Tuffy-Cat

  4. Ah to crate or not to crate. We were advised by a trainer to crate train our puppy Moe. The idea was to put him in his crate at night and eventually the crate would become his haven. I think the training lasted all of 10 minutes. I am not sure who caved to his whining first, me or my husband. Unfortunately it is one of the few things I regret. If we had persisted then he would have a safe place to go when he gets stressed out and needs a quiet place.

    • It’s doesn’t always work and it certainly isn’t easy, but I’m fortunate enough to had success with both pups. It’s been a really great maturation aid for Penny, just like it was for Eko. It also makes for a pretty sweet den, which Penny loves.

  5. I love Emily’s text – she is such a trooper! Good for you on your new tactic -seems like you have it all worked out – congrats


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