Sometimes there is a post on our forum that just makes me laugh out loud. Today it was this: Post by Sara N. Mamma to the infamous Josie.
That is how long we have been working with Josie, daily, to try to get her crate trained. (She is a destroyer of both metal and plastic crates and has had some serious mental-patient moments when left alone in one, but we're determined to get her to accept her crate eventually so that it's easier to find a dog sitter, take her to the vet, and all that good stuff).
We've done all the 'right' things, starting with small amounts of time and working our way up, using high-value treats, a schedule, positive reinforcement when she's relaxed in there, making sure she's tired, and so on, but yet after all this time she still screams her fool head off if she thinks there's any chance we've forgotten that she's in there. What do I mean by "screams," you ask? Well, when a normal dog complains in their crate, it's whining and barking that makes you want to invest in a really good pair of earplugs. When Josie goes in her crate, she makes a noise that makes you wish you were never born: a soul-piercing, half-screech, half-grunt, spawn-of-satan, shriek.
Lately, we've reached a plateau with her crate training -- she's totally relaxed as long as we're in the same room, and we can leave the room for short periods of time without her losing it as long as we're making noise so that she knows we're there. And she'll sleep in it at night if it's right next to our bed. Anything other than that, though, she freaks out. We haven't gotten to the point where we feel confident crating her when we leave the house, because we're worried she's going to injure herself, and so my next task is to find a way to get over that hump.
Fast forward to last night.
One hour. That is how long Gabbi (Gene's rottie that we're dog sitting) was in our house last night before she completely. solved. the problem.
I had them crated in the same room, with a sheet over Gabbi's crate, blocking their view of each other. I left the room, and Josie started making the devil noise. A few short seconds later, I hear a low, loud grumble from Gabbi's crate...grrrrrrrrrrrrrr...and then a single, deep, commanding WOOOOF.
Then, silence. The slightest whimper from Josie and then...more silence. They both slept the entire night in their crates, without either of us humans in the room, without a freaking peep.
I must have missed the section in the dog owner's guidebook about the use of a bad-ass rottie as a crate-training tool.
It wasn't Gabbi's presence alone that did the trick -- I've put Brody in the same room as Josie a number of times and it hasn't helped at all. (In fact it makes it worse because then I feel extra guilty for subjecting him to her noise). And it wasn't that Gabbi scared Josie into silence -- just the opposite, it seemed to calm her. I am constantly impressed by the effect that one dog's energy can have on other dogs' behavior; this is another instance to add to that list.