How It Started
Georgia got sick in the middle of the night once a while back. How do I know? Well, luckily not from the evidence. 🙂 When she began to feel ill, she started scratching the bottom of her crate very hard. I heard it and immediately took her out. She got sick, and then I brought her back in. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Whenever Belle gets sick at night, she lets me know and I take her out. Since she is an older dog, I’m always listening for that rattling of the crate sound, just in case.
Well, Georgia scratched her crate frantically two more times that same night – but she wasn’t sick. I couldn’t be sure if she was faking or just felt better, so I had to get up to take her out. The next night, she repeated her actions. She had discovered a way to get out of her crate at night! That sound drives me crazy! So to save my sleep and my sanity, we moved her crate down to the basement where she can scratch to her heart’s content and not wake me up. Her crate has been down there for months now and getting her to go down the stairs at night has become a chore.
Give Her a Second Chance
Well, along comes Hurricane Isaac and we wanted to keep both dogs in the same room and have quick access to their crates if the weather became bad. Because of the storm, we brought both dog crates into the living room so that we could keep a close eye on them and keep them safe and sound. After the storms passed and night fell, we decided to keep them there for the night.
Georgia started scratching her crate about an hour after we went to bed. It woke me up and I went to the living room to check on the dogs. Everything was fine, so I told her “No” and went back to bed. A little while later it started again. We sprayed her with water, told her “no” and went back to bed. By the third time, we had given up (sleep is precious!) and she went outside for the night. We discussed putting her crate back in the basement this morning.
One More Try
So the remnants of Hurricane Isaac passed us by, leaving about 8/10″ of rain the first day and around another 2 inches the following few days. But yesterday the storms (and excessive heat) started up again, which made the dogs really nervous.
Georgia was following me around the house everywhere I went (which she does during storms), so I decided to put her in her crate, put a towel on top, in an attempt to calm her down. 15 minutes in her crate and she started scratching frantically. I couldn’t take the sound! I knew it was the wrong thing to do, but I let her out to make her stop. That sound just makes my blood pressure rise and I have no patience for it.
How We’ll Stop This Behavior
Well that’s when Rob decided to take over and stop the behavior. He put her back in the crate and when she would stop scratching, he gave her a treat (remember this is our food-obsessed dog). He did this a couple of times. She was in there for an hour and no scratching! We tried this several more times during the day and there was no problem. Who would have thought it would be so simple.
Well, although Georgia did well during the day, the first night wasn’t that successful. She continued the scratching several times until we had to remove the plastic bottom of the crate to make her stop (she has a bed in the crate to sleep on). We will continue to try and wean her from that activity with as much patience as we can. What was so quickly learned by her will take some time to unlearn.