Tag Archives: Crate

Another Installment from the Problem Child

Zekie with the frisbee

If you follow my blog, you know that Zekie is my problem child. Salvation Life is not easy with a no mistake dog. And his crate looks like it was built by the people at Fort Knox. Close. He has an Impact High Anxiety Dog Crate built by a wonderful company in Idaho. You can read about the crate and when we first got it, at the link above.

It was the only crate I could find that is guaranteed from dog damage as it is made from aircraft quality aluminum. The manufacturer will replace it, or parts of it, if the dog damages it. Why am I bringing this up now? You guessed it. Zekie has managed to start chewing through the metal plate that covers the main latch.

Tooth damage above and below the latch cover

He is not in danger of chewing his way out yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I decided to act now, before it became an emergency. I contacted the manufacturer and they are indeed honoring the warranty. They are sending me a replacement cover along with the special drill bit that is needed to change it out.

I do not fault the company. I am happy with their product. Zekie is just a nut. He doesn’t have any fangs left and a number of his molars are cracked off from his regular attempts to escape from the crate. And, he is only a 34 pound dog. Heaven forbid, if he weighed 100 pounds! Yes, I have tried to treat him in many ways for this. All to no avail. (You can search the blog and read about some of these attempts.)

The thing that seems to distract Zekie the most when he is confined to the crate, is a Kong toy with peanut butter smeared inside and baby carrots or dog biscuits stuck into the peanut butter. The peanut butter glues the carrot or treat to the surface so he has to work harder to get them out.

If someone tells you that smart dogs are easier, don’t believe them. Zekie can hold a fine sit-stay or down-stay. He follows a wait command and directional commands. He also has a good comprehension of the English language and will often respond to complete sentences. That comprehension also enables him to think of ways to escape or get into to things that he’s not supposed to. Zekie is very good at following commands, you just have to give him commands all the time so he doesn’t think up his own mischief. And then there are times when he thinks he knows better than us. He will always be a work in progress.

Gotta love a Zekie Bear!

Improvement Is Relative

Meme from Never A Ruff Day

I posted this meme on Facebook earlier and it got me thinking. You know what’s coming. I was thinking about Zekie and our struggles. I have had pretty good results with modifying behaviors in other dogs, both our own and foster dogs. Not so with Zekie.

He’s been with us almost three years. As my husband said, “Of course you kept Zekie because he’s crazy and you must have a crazy dog at all times.” I can’t say that’s not an accurate statement. I love a dog that worships and needs me.

That being said, Zekie has shown improvement over the past three years. But he is still so far from being a normal or average dog that I have given up hope that he ever will be. I have not, however, given up hope that his behavior will continue to improve.

Zekie has many trying behaviors that are similar to that of my heart dog Duncan. Duncan did not become a dog that I could rely on and trust his behavior until he was about 7 or 8 years old. Zekie is now 7. Here are a few behaviors that both dogs exhibited at some time:

  • Waiting at the door or window for me to return, whether I have gone outside to the mailbox, or to the grocery store. Time is irrelevant.
  • Following me from room to room. To be fair, many of our dogs do this. I have not gone to the bathroom alone in over 35 years. Lol…
  • Taking and eating or chewing things from the kitchen counter. i.e. wooden spoons, plastic containers, mugs, and also actual food. This is why we have swinging doors on our kitchen that can be bungeed shut.
  • Opening the doors under the kitchen sink to get into the garbage can. This results in a wooden spoon between the cabinet door handles so they are barricaded.
  • Leash reactivity-Lunging and barking at passersby on walks. With Duncan, the problem was just bicycles and we overcame this. With Zekie, it is bicyclists, joggers, and especially other dogs. After 3 years of training he has learned to be ok with human walkers most of the time, especially if they are friendly and greet us. The Covid masks have set this back a little.
  • Opening the dog food can which contains a 40 lb. bag of food and eating said contents. This resulted in us keeping a bungee cord across the top of the can.
  • Stealing trash out of all cans. This results in the cans in every¬†room of our home having lids. Duncan learned to operate the ones with levers or pedals in short order. We had to keep them up high. Grandma would put hers on top of the refrigerator when we visited. This not only applies to cans with food, but all trash cans. Kleenex, food wrappers, and other items seem to have equal appeal.
  • Barking at cars that drive by, especially when out in the fenced pasture. They always go away so it works, right?
  • Trying to chew or claw through doors and walls to get to where I am.
  • Excessive barking at unwarranted sounds. I suppose what is an acceptable sound is in the eye of the beholder.
  • The need to sleep in a crate in our bedroom so as not to bark endlessly because I am too far away. The crate is needed to keep them out of trouble during the night.

I’m sure there are many other similarities. Duncan was easier to deal with because he could be crated so that I could have a time out or go away. He did well in a crate and was content to chew a bone or nap.

Zekie does not do well in a crate. He chews out of wire crates and Vari-Kennels in short order. He drools so much that his body is drenched in saliva and it pools in the bottom of the crate. This causes him to drink for minutes when he is released resulting in his frantic need to go out and pee a little while later. We tried prescription drugs, homeopathic medicines and herbs, and behavioral modification. None helped. Some made it worse. He has broken off all four canine teeth and some molars in his attempts to get out of the crates.

Now Zekie has a crate made of aircraft quality steel and marine grade butterfly latches. He must be crated when we go away for his own safety and the safety of our house. It is entirely possibly that he would go throw a window, or worse, to look for us. We try not to go away often if Zekie can’t stay with us or one of us can’t stay at home.

Still Zekie has shown improvement in the years he has been here. This is the boy I love.

Zekie, the boy I love.

Top 7 Things to Have Before You Bring Your New Dog Home

You made the decision to get a new dog. What should you do to make the introduction and transition to his or her new home go as seamlessly as possible? You don’t want to have to take your new friend into the pet store on your way home and have his first outing when the two of you haven’t had a chance to bond. This could be scary for the dog, going to a strange place with a person he just met. Things will go more smoothly if you have some supplies at home waiting and at the ready. I recommend the following.

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#1. A bag of the food your dog will eat.

You don’t want your first day with your new dog to involve dragging him to the pet store, so that you can read 20 plus bags of dog food and decide which is the most suitable. Or even worse, feeding him people food until you can get to the store for the appropriate food. And no, people food is not the appropriate food.

#2. A collar with identification tags.

You will need a way to control and identify your new family member. Ask the person you are getting your dog from, what size is correct. Many snap-in collars are adjustable to cover several sizes. The adjustable size is especially good for puppies. It will limit the number of collars you need to buy as puppy grows. An ID tag is essential. Your new dog is most likely to get lost in the first few days, before he knows you and his new home.

#3. A leash.

The leash is used to control your dog and keep him safe. It is a lifeline between him and you, and can be used to communicate what you want as well. It can even be used inside the house to keep the dog where you can watch him.

#4. Food and water bowls.

Your new friend will need something to eat from. Metal is sturdy and long-lasting. Water should be available to the dog at all times. If your dog or puppy is prone to spilling, he does not need water when in his crate, but should be given access to water frequently.

5. Crate

This is very important for a new dog. It confines the dog when you cannot watch him. It is a good place for him to sleep. Not only does it keep him from damaging your home, it keeps him safe from things like electrical cords that he could chew. Most dogs feel safe in their crates. It is a good place for them to eat as well as sleep. He may not need the crate forever, but it can save a lot of grief as you transition to your new life together.

#6 Treats!

These can be used to bribe your dog to go into his crate, to distract him while you take away something he shouldn’t have, and to reward him for following commands. My dogs will fly into their crates to get a mere crumb from a treat!

#7. Paper Towels

These will be for cleaning up any potty accidents that occur. Most dogs will have at least a few accidents until they learn where you want them to do their business. If you are bringing home a puppy, get lots of paper towels! House training a puppy does not happy overnight.

With careful planning, introducing the dog into his new home will go more smoothly. You can keep a cool head if you have what you need at hand. Good luck, your new best friend will change your life!