'Not So' Wordless Wednesday: Sweet Justice the Search Dog
Sundays with Cleo: Home "more" not homeless

Dog adoption tales: You can't hit undo but you can make it better

Looking back at the first few months with our adopted dog, I can see so many mistakes we made. Mistakes that I would love to do over, or hit the undo button on. Sadly, my time machine is broken so instead it is better that I forgive myself, and be grateful that my dog loves and trusts me today.

I've mentioned here before that I grew up with a mother who was a dog trainer in the 1970s and 80s. She trained our dogs, winning lots of ribbons, plates and crystal bowls at dog shows. She also trained a lot of other people's dogs privately and in groups. When we adopted our dog, I knew from my childhood experiences the importance of crate training. I knew how much our dogs loved theirs. I used to play hide and seek in them, or take my afternoon nap in one with Tasha or Shadow. Our dogs used them as sanctuaries from us kids, and as safe havens when we traveled to dog shows.

Why didn't I do a better job at crate training my dog Cleo?

The day we sold the dog crate
You can't hit undo but you can make it better. With all the knowledge I had, what went wrong after we adopted our dog? Maybe I couldn't read her behavior well. As a big adult dog already, I did fight the urge not to be intimated by her at times. I grew up with Dobermans, so Cleo's Shepherd-Husky blend and size didn't worry me. It was not knowing her history that didn't help, and played to my nerves. My childhood dogs grew up with me, more than half from puppyhood. Cleo was already an adult, or at least a young adult dog. Also, because I fell in love with Cleo so completely, I wanted to be the perfect guardian which added pressure. 

Last year I wrote about my theory that if we had fostered a dog before adopting then mistakes like that of our failed crate training would have been avoided. Maybe if we had been more patient with Cleo's progress, and made it more fun for her she would have taken to it. Then again, maybe not. The one experience we had when we left her in it for a couple of hours, and we came back to her distraught inside her crate surrounded by poop and torn bedding is something I won't forget.

We rebuilt her trust. What we learned from the experience, besides our obvious mistakes, is that we needed to observe her behavior more closely. We had to build her trust in us, and we had to get to know her. Cleo probably had been showing us signs of her independent personality at the start. She certainly told us that she was potty trained, because she told us she needed to go every two hours that first night home with us. Watching her over the years, she loves watching the action. She can place herself in a spot where she is out of the traffic pattern, but can still observe our activity. She will take herself off to a dark and quiet room as the mood suits her.

Incorrect crate traing that she didn't hold against us. Maybe Cleo didn't need to be crate trained. She never liked car rides, so she doesn't need a crate for long road trips. If we ever get a puppy (jury is out because we are loving our senior dog), we will likely try to crate train again. There are a lot of positives about it. Here is a short video that the Humane Society put out that helps show what I mean....


What did you think? Do you crate-train your dogs? What steps do you take to make your dog's crate or play pen area a comfortable and happy place for them? Any other helpful tips or tricks you have developed over the years? Is there anything that this video left out?

This post was written by a Nutro Knowledge Network Member and sponsored by the Nutro Company.

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