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Our trainer/behaviorist recommended we don't crate our 8-month year old at night any longer. She said it's increasing his need for activity and stimulation during the day. Sam is having a very hard time settling down - which may be contributing to his barking issue (see my other post here) - so she suggested this as an option. Curious on other's experiences and/or thoughts. 

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This doesn't make sense to me. Most dogs sleep at night, and that's what you want. Whether they're in a crate or not, they aren't running around the house, (you wouldn;t want them to be), and they aren't getting stimulation or exercise. I don't see how being out of the crate at night is going to help with those things during the day. All of my dogs have been out of the crate at night by the age of 6 months, and all of them still needed plenty of exercise and mental stimulation during the day. 
The thing is, the only kind of "behaviorist" with any credentials is a veterinary behaviorist, i.e. a DVM specialist. Trainers may call themsleves behaviorists, but there isn't any kind of test or certification that anyone without a DVM degree can obtain. I think there are some very good trainers out there, and some not-so-good trainers,  but there are no trainers who are board certified behaviorists. That may not have anything to do with your guy's issues or your question, but I do remember the original discussion well, and I was hoping you would go with a veterinary behavior specialist rather than a trainer who calls themselves a behaviorist but is really not academically qualified to do that kind of work. For what it's worth. 

I didn't think it made much sense either. Sam really likes his crate at night and we're not sure if we ever want to stop it. If we take it away, we're concerned he won't take to it down the road if we needed to crate him for any reason. Right now, he won't go in it at all during the day voluntarily. 

There is a field of study for behaviorists that are not DVMs. They're Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB). To become certified, one needs to meet educational requirements include a Master's Degree from a USDE or CHEA accredited college or university in a biological or behavioral science with an emphasis in animal behavior. The most famous CAAB is Patricia McConnell. Pet insurance recognizes both DVM's and CAAB's to treat behavior issues in animals and will accept it (if you purchase the rider).

The person we went to specializes in behavior modification. That's the key difference between a trainer and behaviorist. They're not doctors, but they work alongside your vet if needed. 

I spoke to one DVM that my regular vet recommended and she immediately brought up medication (since she already knew Sam was cleared through my vet). That turned me away very quickly. Not saying all DVM's will go to medication as the first resort, but we want to understand Sam's emotions and behaviors to see if we can have any luck with training/modifying his behavior first.

Thank you for that information, I was not aware that there is actually a degree in animal behavior. I just see so many trainers claiming to be "behaviorists", I've grown too skeptical, I guess.

I agree with trying training/modifying his behavior before resorting to drugs. 
I think your concerns about taking away his crate at night are very valid, and I'd address that with the trainer. 

I agree with you - there are many trainers who say they can treat behavior, which I'm sure some can, but they don't have the formal education/credentials. At best, trainers have CCPDT and APDT. 

Going back to the crate, you mentioned you stopped using the crate with your dogs at 6 months of age. Have you had any issues with them going back in the crate as they got older? Anything else to consider before making the switch? We're still considering it, I think it would help with our bonding with Sam (see my discussion from May) but hesitate because of the concerns I noted above. 

All of my dogs have been out of the crate at night once they are housebroken, which has always been well before the age of 6 months. Jack never had a crate, as I adopted him as an adult and he was so well behaved he never needed to be confined. My others have always used the crate as a kind of indoor dog house, and I've never had a problem getting them to use it if needed, i.e. workers in the house, etc. 
Jasper is a few days short of 8 months old and is still crated when I leave the house. I have no problems getting him to go into the crate, and in fact, he often stays there a little while even after i get home and open the door, lol. 

I do think (and most experts agree) that it's important that a dog be comfortable being crated for many reasons, not the least of which is in case of disaster situations. 

Thanks for this, Karen. I think that's where we want to be. We'll most likely keep him crated at night and re-introduce it for day-time use, but only as a dog house, not going to force him in.

I forgot our pups are the same age! Sam turns 8 months next Wednesday. H8MBD, Jasper :)

They are one day apart!!! Jasper turns 8 months next Tuesday!
H8MBD to Sam, too! 

My Chase went on behavioural meds at 5 years old (fluoxetine). It was a lifesaver for him, and when I saw how much it helped him I wished I hadn't waited as long as I did. I had tried training and behaviour modification, none of it was effective until he was on meds. He wasn't able to "see through the noise" to focus on anything. Sometimes meds can really help your training / behaviour modification work, they are not always a lifelong thing even though they were for my Chase. Please don't be so quick to discount them as part of your boys treatment plan. 

I also don't understand why you wouldn't crate at night if he likes it in there. As Karen said he sleeps in there, that isn't going to make any difference to his daytime activity level / activity needs. 

I totally agree that medication can be a lifesaver sometimes, but this is a not-quite-8-month old puppy, and the behaviors he is exhibiting are brand new within the past few weeks and arose right after he was neutered, so there very well may be a biological component. So I think waiting a little bit and trying behavior modification and training first is a sensible plan. I agree that waiting too long could be a mistake, but jumping the gun might also be a mistake. :) 

I am glad Chase did well with the medication. I am curious on what were some of the modification techniques you tried?

I am not discounting the use of medication, but I think it's too soon considering we just saw the behaviorist a week ago. We're starting to see some improvement with the barking so that's giving us some hope. We're going to check back with the behaviorist (and our vet) in 4 weeks. We're also starting group classes again this weekend so I'm hoping that's going to help too. 

Night time or alone time, dogs are sedentary unless someone is doing something with them or they are running free.   My 8 year old Boca is still crated when she's alone because she always finds SOMETHING to "read" otherwise.  She can even jump a fairly tall baby gate, so crate it is. Rosco isn't crated but he hangs out behind a baby gate usually.  

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