Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Doggy Jail

I know enough about training dogs to be a devotee of the crate system.  My basic advice about crates is this:  Just Do It.  Crates save money; they save time; they save hassle.  And dogs actually like them.

Our current dog is a case in point, because until last week, he didn't have a crate. The reasons are various, mostly having to do with pride and procrastination (I was going to build him an ultra-cool one, someday, but hadn't quite gotten around to it).

He is a sweet dog, but an occasionally destructive one.  If he were awful all the time, we would have taken crate action much sooner, so it's a tribute to his gentle and generally angelic behavior that he's avoided doggy jail for almost two years now.  For example, surprisingly, he never eats shoes or the boys' toys.  Never ever.  Sometimes he'll snatch a tuna sandwich that the boys turn their backs on . . .  but so do my husband and I, and I'm not putting either of us into crates, either.

But he's not always angelic, particularly when he misses his mistress.  When I'm gone, he goes loopy with grief.  He turns into Destructo-Dog.  Infractions of household rules can be minor:  eating out of trash cans.  Sleeping on the couch.  They can be gross: leaving doggy messes to mark his territory.  They can be costly:  eating my husband's bicycle gloves. And they can be embarrassingly personal: he loves to eat objects that belong to me that I should not speak about in public.  The more intimiate the object of mine, the more likely he will -- in my absence -- perform his own holy communion ceremony: "Take this object, and eat it in remembrance of me".

What can I say?  I am my dog's Lord and Master.

So, at the end of March I went on a trip and my dog missed me.  Pride and procrastination were only two of my personal belongings that got swallowed.  Enough was enough.  April is just too busy for me to do my own construction project, so I bought a commercial crate.  It was pricey.  But it was worth it.
Without being asked, the dog wants to enter the crate.
Unlike the admirable Dogs or Dollars, I don't like paying for real dog beds.  But I was inspired enough by her many photos that I rescued some cushions from a couch my step-daughter no longer wants, and I made a slip-cover out of a pile of unwanted black t-shirts. I also bought a bone (that is, a bribe), that my dog can chew on only while in the crate.

Perhaps the bone is part of the crate allure.
I should have done this long ago.  Because my dog, he loves it.  He might have tried to eat his dog bed, but at least he hasn't eaten my . . . well, he hasn't eaten anything of mine, since.

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