"Princess, this crate's not big enough for two dogs."
About a month or two ago, Loki suddenly developed a deep fear of his crate. He's gone through highs and lows with his crate but for the most part, he loves his crate, because we played tons and tons of crate games before moving to Switzerland. He loves his crate so much, he will seek it out if it's around and will go into it when he's worried or stressed, like in a busy airport. But something happened one day as he jumped into the car and straight into his crate: the bed moved.
You all know how Loki feels about things that move, such as ocean or lake waves and flowing rivers. So for a long time, he refused to go into his crate on his own. I tried installing in a soggy doggy floor mat, which has a rubber gripping bottom and soft micro fiber top. He adores that mat, and I showed him that it was stable, but no go. I put the crate on the floor out of the car and tried the old crate games. He'd just stare at me with fear in his eyes and would run further and further away from his crate.
So in order to go places in the car, I had to put his leash on him and physically heel him into the crate. For whatever reason, if the leash is attached, Loki always complies. I don't have to drag or pull him. It doesn't even take any sort of collar correction. I just have to attach the leash and hold it. When we're connected, he gains confidence. Then one day, without his leash on, he leaped into the car on the empty side, next to his crate. I held the crate door open (it stupidly only opens from the left and the crate sits on the right of the car for my best vision), and he slowly walked under my arm and around the door and calmly into his crate. On his own. Gladly. Getting Loki over fears takes patience and letting him come to terms with it on his own timeline and in his own way. And usually, it has to be his idea. Not mine. I'm lucky that leashing him gives him enough confidence to override his fear, because frankly 70 lbs of pure muscle is too much for me to lift into the Xterra. Otherwise we wouldn't be going anywhere for a long time.
Six weeks later, Loki is back to jumping straight into his crate inside the car. We still continue to play crate games. I vary it up with going further and further away from the crate, recalling and sending back to the crate and even sending him to the crate in the garage from the house. I play with both dogs and each takes their turn. But sometimes Juno gets a little impatient. And while it was Loki's turn she couldn't help herself. She jumped up from her down-stay on her mat and bolted to the crate, pushing her fluffy self inside, right next to Loki. Loki, confused as ever, allowed the interloper to stay.
"I'm here and I'm stayin' Big Boy. Deal with it."
She may be uninvited, but she's much too cute to kick out. Even Loki can't argue that.
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