Saturday, September 8, 2012

How To make strict cage rest a little more comfortable for your dog.

I found this article particularly useful. Thus, am sharing it with anyone else who could do with this information.
Good luck!
*Helping to Make Crate-Training/Rest More Pleasant

by Jeannie Fazio, The Dachshund Network Forums
::Share the Knowledge - permission to cross post is granted by the author::
While there have been many articles written on the general topic of crate-training, not much focus has been made on how to keep your dog content while in there.
Once the healthy puppy/dog has learned to feel safe in his crate, which the general training articles cover, it should be easier for him to be in there for sensible lengths of time. That is, provided he's been given ample opportunities to get out for potty, meal, water, play, and exercise.

Thus the crucial reason for being very pro-active while your dog is healthy. He is able to learn crate-training at a more leisurely, less-stressful pace. Once your dog starts to go into his crate on his own, you know you've done your job. This den animal will now be ready if and when he needs this enclosed space. Too much commotion in his environment (overactive kids, dogs, a party, etc), for travel, a veterinary clinic stay, recuperating at home following an injury, or when he simply wants to be alone, he will have his own space in which to retreat.

Crate training, in general
Go here... and then return to this article for advice on ways in which to keep your pet busy while in crate-training mode.

Crate rest for the ill, recovering pet
Staying in the crate for hours on end is a necessary evil for animals suffering from illnesses. Rehabilitation for healing injuries such as ACL surgeries and neurological diseases such as IVDD, which is an unfortunate yet all too common genetic disease in breeds such as the Dachshund, makes extended crate rest an absolute must while recovering at home. And although it makes our jobs easier knowing they're safely confined, try telling the animals that!

Necessary Equipment
  • A crate that is large enough for the puppy to sit, lay down, stand and turn around comfortably.
  • A crate pad and blanket.
  • Odor Neutralizer ("See Spot Go," "Nature's Miracle," etc.).
  • Collar or Harness (for dogs genetically prone to Degenerative Disc Disease).
  • A leash.
  • An empty soda can containing a few pennies with the opening taped shut.
  • Have diapers, wraps, bed liners available for your pet if he is in any way incontinent.
  • Rescue Remedy, Pet Calm, medically prescribed relaxers for pets who are anxious while in crate.
The Process
  • Keeping your pet quiet is your goal, but that doesn't mean he has to be isolated. Put the crate in a place where he can be with the family.
  • He should only come out of the crate for medically prescribed therapy, and to carry or leash walk him to his potty area.
  • Water and food content should be controlled so that he doesn't constantly have to go.
  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight, always, and especially now, where his activity level has been decreased

How to make crate rest more bearable
for all
•Aside from veterinary prescribed physical therapy (if applicable) and short leash walks to potty area, life can get pretty boring for even the most well crate-trained pet who has just been told he must stay in there pretty much 24/7 for 6-8 weeks.
•As in basic crate training, remember NEVER to reward him for doing anything that you don't want him to repeat. If he cries to come out, barks, or looks at you pathetically, do not make eye contact for that is another response that to him is favorable and worth repeating. Even if you're ready to take him out, do not ever open the door to the crate while he is behaving badly. That will only reward him, making him want to repeat whatever he was doing at the precise moment you decided to let him have his way.
•If he does seem overly stressed while in crate - read the instructions at bottom of this page.
•Have the crate in areas where he can be with the family - knowing that he is a part of the family will make a huge difference in his comfort level.
• Strollers - strollers have been known to help the dog whose family needs to move about the house with their resting pet. If a pet-specific stroller is to be used, it is crucial that there be a clasp on the inside that will strap your pet so that he cannot get out. Avoid jolts as you move the carriage. Using a harness whose grommet is not pulling on his vertebrae or any area which may hamper the rehabilitation efforts is a must. Strollers can even be placed directly next to you while in bed at night, which is almost as good as having your pet in bed with you. One site that sells nice strollers is Discount Ramps.
•Proper Fitting Harnesses - Call the folks at Dachshund Delights for information pertaining to proper harnesses. Never use a collar on a Dachshund, period.
•Toys and treats - ensuring that your dog is happy and safe should be the two top priorities here. There are many safe toys for some dogs, but not all toys and treats are safe for all dogs. Rawhide, greenies, nylabones are ones that I do not use anymore, nor would I recommend for any dog to use. There have been far too many instances of choking and worse. After seeing my own dogs gagging on the ends of a few rawhides and having to literally dislodge them from their throats, not to mention reading horror stories of how greenies and nylabones have stuck to the inners of animals, I simply won't take the chance.
•Selecting Toys - being very mindful of how easily your dog plays with his toys will be helpful in selecting them. If he has a tendency to destroy the squeaker toys, leaving one in there could prove fatal for it only takes a minute for some dogs to de-squeak one and then possibly swallow the inner plastic, outer covering, stuffing, and/or squeak mechanism.
There are puzzle toys, which contain other smaller toys or, better yet, treats inside. Type in "interactive dog toys" in your favorite search engine for Websites containing such toys. This is one site that I like as the proceeds go toward helping pets in need.
The kong has been a life saver for a countless amount of crated dogs over the years - The Dachshund/Pet Network started recommending this to dogs in the process of being housetrained way back in the 90's. This delicacy is now a staple in many pet-owned homes. Stuffed with not the preservative-ladened crap in a can that is now being sold in pet stores, but your own fillings, is the healthier way to go. Things such as peanut butter, cheese, and cookies will keep your pet happy for hours on end as they lick or nibble the filling out. Keep several kongs in the freezer so that he can spend hours while in the crate enjoying this inverted pet cone. As tough as the Kong is supposed to be, however, keep in mind that there are dogs who have been known to break them apart and digest the rubber. This is dangerous. As with all toys, never leave your pet unattended while in crate with a toy.
•Last but not least, take a look at these links that are chock full of additional help:
Merlina's Mom's comforting tips
Paula's Dachsie IVDD Care and FAQ
Teal Dachs Back Site
The Dachshund/Pet Network Forums
Crate rest for an untrained animal
There is little doubt that this can be a real challenge, especially with an older dog. With patience, practice and consistency, however, it can be done. If the dog's health is at stake, then there is little choice; it must be done.
•Calming pet remedies can help - Rescue Remedy is one, Pet Calm, another.
•Conventional medications - if none of these work, you may want to ask your vet about a medication to calm him while he is learning to feel safe in the crate.
•Use the training methods in the general article, but if on rest for an injury or illness, do not let him out unless it is time for vet prescribed therapy or leash walking to potty area.
•Cover the crate - this may help - then again, it might not. This is all trial and error; finding ways that makes your pet, who cannot tell you what he wants, more comfortable.

Crate rest for the pet suffering with separation anxiety
Follow the instructions above for untrained dogs, then:
A nice way to desensitize the dog with separation anxiety is to practice coming and going -
•Leaving the dog in closed crate, go out of sight for short bouts.
•If and when he cries, barks, acts negatively to your leaving, you may want to use a soda can filled with a few coins and taped shut to help this process of stopping the noise along. Shake the can only when he is noisy. Stop when he stops. The concept is to have him connect the noise to his noisy behavior. So as not to have him connect the noise to you, it is important that you not let him see you doing it.
•As soon as he stops the noise long enough, walk back in, but DO NOT make a fuss over him by saying his name in a high pitched voice. High pitched voices only excacerbates the problem as it promotes excitement.
•Gradually increase the amounts of time you stay away (when actually, you are in another room), following the same methods above.
This deserves re-emphasizing: whether you're coming or going, make your entrance and exit a non-issue. Getting excited over your greeting or parting will only further reinforce his separation anxiety.

What to do if your pet panics while in crate
If in the event something (storms, noises, etc) spooks or panics your pet who is on crate rest, and it looks like he could potentially hurt himself, use a command for him to calm down. Once he has, quietly and calmly remove him from the crate. Either move the crate to an area that is quiet, or if in the case of thunderstorm fears, put the crate in a room with no windows. A closet also works well in many cases. Say nothing, but stay with him if you can. Once calm, then quietly praise him for behaving the way you want him to. If, however, this change of venue doesn't relax him, you may need an exercise pen or pet stroller to contain him in. Again, make sure that either containment system does not allow him to do much more than stand, turn, lay down comfortably. If he is able to jump, he can hurt himself or potentially cause a relapse. Try different rooms to see which will be most effective at calming him down. Again, say nothing until he has!

Always remember that each dog is different as is each situation. What may work for one pet might not for another. Do not give up. If one thing fails, try tweaking it so that it will be more adaptable to your pet. Eventually, with lots of love, time, consistency and patience, things should improve.
*Please note that the opinions on this page are those of the author and are designed to give novice pet owners general information to assist them in the general care of their dogs. This article is not meant to replace veterinary care in any way and is not medical advice.


Mr Lonely said...

this post was lovely~

Joanne-Marie said...

Thanks Mr. Lonely, the author certainly did a great job with being informative and educational!