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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stop feeling guilty!!


We're getting ready for a trip out of town, and Lizzie has to stay behind with a housesitter. She's never been separated from us for more than a few hours at a time, and we're concerned that separation anxiety may cause her to do dastardly deeds, like chewing up our new house. It could only happen when the housesitter had to leave for a few hours and Lizzie and Kosmo would be loose and alone in the house....and we don't want to take the chance.

So the dog crate has emerged from the basement, and it now sits in the middle of the living room. Lizzie doesn't like being crated because she gets bored, and because she associates it with separation. She goes in on command, but will chew up anything we leave in there with her, especially if we're gone for more than an hour. It's not the chewing that bothers me; it's the fact that she's that distressed when we leave her. And that's what makes me feel guilty.

Poor, poor Lizzie! She hates the box. She misses us so much. She's so distraught. I'm such an evil person for putting her in there! I must hurry home! I hope she's not traumatized for life.

YADAH YADAH YADAH!!!

Sound at all familiar?? Jan the Dogmom suffers the same guilt as so many other dog parents out there. I knew it was my own problem, so I consulted Jan the Dogtalker, and she said...

Get over it! It's your problem, not Lizzie's, and your "guilt" just aggravates it, since you project those feelings to her. You're the boss. You're putting her in the crate for HER own safety. It is the RIGHT thing to do. There is absolutely nothing bad about the crate. It is for her protection. If a three-year-old child complains about his car seat, you still put him in the car seat. Period. Same thing.

In all fairness, you want to make the crate as pleasant as possible. Exercise her thoroughly before you put her in there, so she'll be ready for a nap. Give her a Kong stuffed with goodies. Put the crate in a central location. Leave the radio or TV on. And don't make a fuss over her or prolong the goodbye. Be a leader. If YOU question your own decisions, you will project these feelings of doubt to your dog, causing her to question them too. A leader's decisions should NEVER EVER be questioned!! Casting doubts on your ability to make good decisions can put the whole pack at risk.

So put the dog in the crate and know that's the safest place for her. You're a good dog parent.
--Jan the Dogtalker

Now, to keep Lizzie from only associating the crate with our separation, we put her in there a couple times a day, arbitrarily (IOW, for no good reason at all), and let her work on a Kong for a few minutes while we sit and read the paper.

It's never too late to introduce the crate as a management tool if you need it. Live guilt-free. You're a good dog parent too!

Note on photo: Now this crate is a nice piece of furniture!!! Available at Orvis.com. Wish I could afford it! (it's $498 for an XL)

1 comment:

Melissa ~ A BumbleBaby Mommy said...

That crate looks like my living room coffee tables! I've admired them for years!