Thursday, January 17, 2013

Olive on the Loose

We have a crate for Olive and think it's important for her to be crate trained. Mostly so that when we're not home we know she's safe, not getting into anything that can hurt her or that she can hurt.  We got a really cute pink crate for her at PetCo the same day we adopted her.  She liked it and went right in!  Success!



A few days ago, I locked Olive up before I left and came home to find her waiting for me at the door, loose.  I thought that maybe I hadn't locked the crate properly.

The next day, I locked her in the crate and double checked it.  I came home to find her loose again.

This morning I went out for an hour, and again came home to find her loose.  So, I decided to try setting up a "hidden" camera.  Ok, it wasn't that hidden, it was just the webcam on my laptop, but since she's a dog, I figured that was ok.

I left my laptop open on the floor next to the crate.  I only wished I had a clapboard so I could snap it closed and shout "Action!"

I thought I was so smart.

But it was Olive who was smarter than me.

I came home and she was loose again.  She was so happy to see me, she danced all over me and licked me and loved me, and finally I settled down with the laptop to see my girl in action.

About a minute after I left, she started crying.  And howling.  And ow-ow-owing.  And screaming.  She stuck her leg through the crate, and chewed on the bars.  She cried so loudly, I was thankful the woman next door is gone during the day. After a few minutes it stopped being funny and just became heartbreaking to watch.  Olive sat next to me, and looked at the laptop in confusion.  (You know dog confusion, the cute cockeyed head, one ear up.)

As it went on, I felt terrible.  She cried and howled and gnashed her teeth on the bars.  Sitting next to me watching the video, Olive finally recognized her own cries.  She looked annoyed at me, that I would violate her privacy, and then went to lie down, facing away from me. That was the first time she's ever turned away from me like that.

I watched the video, 45 minutes until she escaped.  She let out a loud yelp with the last twist of her jaw along the bars.

I kept watching, wishing the camera was at another angle so I could see what she did with her freedom.  It was mostly quiet, although once, just for a minute, she started crying and howling again.  Then she was quiet, probably settled on the couch, until I heard myself come in.

We went back to PetCo and bought her a slightly bigger crate.  She fits in her first crate but didn't have a lot of room to stretch out or move around.  We figured maybe she'd be happier if she had a little more space.  The new crate is more like one of those plastic carriers with just a metal door.  We are hoping she won't be able to chew on it and hurt her teeth.

We are practicing putting her in her crate for shorter periods of time, 10-20 minutes here every hour or two, so that she gets used to being in there and knowing we'll come back.  We're also putting a Kong filled with peanut butter in the crate with her to keep her occupied with something other than crying.

Tuesday night Jon & I went down to my car for ten minutes to change my license plates (to my new Washington plates!).  We left my phone by Olive's crate and called it from Jon's phone, putting both on speaker phone.  She barely cried, and stopped every time she heard us talking.  Maybe hearing our voices was enough, or maybe we weren't gone long enough for her to really get upset, but that got me thinking...

On Wednesday, I had glassblowing class. (I know, I need to update the blog on my glassblowing progress.) This was the longest Olive would be left home alone since we adopted her.  Before I left, I recorded myself saying things like "Who's a good girl?  Olive is a good girl!  She doesn't need to cry!" and used my laptop to leave it playing on a loop when I went to class.  But I couldn't record her to see if she cried - when I tried to record, it stopped my voice from playing.  So,  I'll have to work on this plan a little more to see if it really helped.  But, I know that she wasn't too happy in there because when I came home there were bite marks on the plastic part of the crate.

Wednesday night, Olive took a special liking to Jon and mostly ignored me.  My theory?  She was sick of me after listening to my voice on a loop for over four hours!


I hope she gets over her separation anxiety.  I hate to think of her crying for hours.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that we've had her less than a month because she feels like a part of our family and our life already.  I know this is something she'll get over and be able to deal with as she gets better adjusted.  She starts "school" next month, and I've been told that this will help her to feel calmer and intellectually stimulated which might address the separation anxiety.  I hope so, because it killed me to watch her cry like that.

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