Dear Your Own Vet’s Behaviorist,
I have a 3 year old female shiba inu who has a problem with being in a
crate when we are not home and at night. It’s been a problem since we
got her when she was a few months old from a pet store. First she would
go potty in the kennel. It was a huge one so we got one of those metal
wire ones that have the divider to make it smaller or bigger as the dog
grows. Well she stopped going potty in it and decided to figure out how
to escape from it. She would push her nose between the wires and bend
them. She finally figured out how to just get the whole thing to
collapse on its self and get out. So we moved to a smaller plastic
kennel. Well she figured out a way to literally eat her way out of it!
We came home to her with a hole in it big enough to stick her head out!
Its been down hill from there. we have gone through about 4 or 5 kennels
over the last 3 years because she destroys them. We have tried to just
let be be loose in the house and she does ok for a few days but then she
starts peeing on the floor. We dont own our home and we have heated
floors. The constant peeing on the floor is going to ruin the floors and
we can’t afford to fix them. We have tried giving her treats in the
kennel, extra exercise, we are at a loss. I don’t know what else to try
or do. I’m so frustrated that I’m to the point of just finding a new
home for her. I don’t want to because she is family but I also don’t want
to be mad at her everyday. I hope you are able to help us come up with
some ideas to try so we can fix this issue. My dog hates the crate.
MY DOG HATES THE CRATE! HELP!!
With regard to your query about your female Shiba Inu and being crated, it is very obvious that she is not happy being in a crate.
You don’t mention just how many hours she is crated (you just say when you are not home and at night), and if the time is for many hours, then I can understand her frustration.
I don’t believe in crating dogs for long periods, as it can certainly cause frustration and a reason to try and escape. I always say to owners, image being in a jail cell with no books, no tv, no radio, no newspapers and just doing nothing for hours and hours. It would drive us humans insane,and so too with dogs.
The Shiba Inu as a breed is a very active dog and new owners are often warned to be careful when they are off lead as they LOVE to run. Well, imagine how a dog must feel being in a crate for so many hours at a time.
Then, what is happening when you are at home? Are you taking her on a long walk / run to get rid of that energy, do you play with her? This breed is also very intelligent and takes to training very well.
I even know some Shiba Inu’s that have been trained for agility – what a great way to exercise and also stimulate the brain.
When she is left out of the crate, you say that she pees on the floor – well, does she have a designated area where she knows where to do her business? If it is only in her crate, that she has just escaped from, then she is definitely not going to go back there to do her business.
I do understand your frustration with her escaping all the time, and that she can’t mess on the floors – but she too is a very frustrated dog.
Is there no place that you would be able to leave her during the day – such as doggy daycare? This would be so much better than leaving her in a crate during the day. She needs company and to run and be a dog.
I suggest that you sit down and make a list of the pro’s and con’s of keeping this dog. Once you do this in a calm, rational way, you will then be able to make a decision of whether it is kinder to keep her crated or to find a home where she can be happy and have more freedom.
I personally would like her not to be crated any more. Give her more room – maybe two rooms or a kitchen that has tiles and make a special area for her to do her business. Also make sure that she has lots of toys to play with to stimulate her brain, and even get the interactive toys which she will enjoy.
Just like humans, dogs keep their stress in their mouths, so chewing is a way of relieving stress. The fact that she is chewing to escape just tells you how stressed she is being crated. Unfortunately, she has now done this so often that it has become a habit. It doesn’t matter how many crates you buy, she is going to escape from them which ever way she can.
Sometimes, as hard as a decision is, you need to think about what would be the kindest for the animal. At the moment you are stressed with her and what she is doing, and she is stressed by being crated.
I am not sure where you stay, but you might consider getting an animal behaviourist to come and assess your home and the situation and then look at some behavioural modification.
If you keep this dog you will need to do the following:
1 take her on a long walk before going out, so that she is tired
2 take her on a long walk before putting her in the crate at night
3 take her to some classes – obedience, agility, flyball etc
4 try to leave her in a bigger room/s, not in such a small space
5 buy LOTS of toys for her to chew and play with
6 buy interactive toys to stimulate her mind
7 make sure there is a special area that she can use for her business if she is not crated
8 see if there is not a place where you can leave her during the day
9 find a dog park where she can play and interact with other dogs
Finally, remember at no time should you EVER get angry with her, or hit her, scream etc. What she is doing is only upsetting to you. She doesn’t know she is doing anything wrong. Even if she looks “guilty” when you come home, she is responding to your body language and not because she knows what she has done is wrong.
She needs to be praised and rewarded when she does anything right, and everything else ignored. She will then want to do things that got the praise and reward, rather than the naughty things.
I wish you strength in making the right decision which will make both of you happier.
Accredited Animal Behaviour Consult