Goose is now 6 mths old. I would LOVE to be able to say that hard work, determination, desensitization and solid dog training finally prevailed.! But that would be a lie. Goose IS finally tolerating being crated for 3 or 4 hours at home (hooray!), but not because of my implementation of any of the accepted standard procedures recommended to crate train dogs. I think what finally worked was...wait for it...giving up!
Well, not totally giving up, but simply accepting that Goose was not comfortable being crated alone at home and deciding to stop trying it.
This is what happened that made me stop trying altogether:
Yup, that is the plastic tray he chewed up - dangerous!!!
I started taking him everywhere or leaving him home loose (a scary thing to do with a 5 month old Vizsla!). I did continue to crate him in the car, during meals and occasionally at work because he was OK with that. It is HARD to not be able to confine a puppy safely. I worried when he was loose at home...I worried when he was in the car...This went on for several months.
I'm not sure exactly why, but one night I decided to try crating him again. I had tired him out thoroughly during the day (he was exhausted). I fed him and gave him two treat filled, puzzle toys in his crate.. I drove out of the driveway with a knot in my stomach. But surprise, surprise, surprise! I came home to a calm puppy with no shredded bedding or any other sign of distress in his crate!
I really have no idea what made Goose "turn the corner". Maybe it was simply a developemental/ maturity thing... maybe the "OK crate time" with me present finally convinced him that crate time alone was OK too. But it is a HUGE relief to now be able to leave him home occasionally in a crate.
Silly Red Dog!