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Crate-training for our dog who hates storms and thunder

The story so far…

Our flat is tiny and one side of the long living room is lined with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, which gives the room a very open feeling. On good days, it’s light and airy and maybe a tad too bright. On rainy days, our dog gets insecure and prefers the cosier galley kitchen where perhaps she feels more protected from the thunder.

However, the kitchen is usually secured by a child gate and Donna is not allowed in. Given all these considerations, we decided it may be best to crate-train our dog so that when there’s nobody at home and she needs a safe space from the thunderstorm, she may nestle into the safe den that is her crate. At least, that is how I would like her to perceive it as, ideally.

Trip to get the crate and other supplies

Saturday morning it stormed, but Donna weathered it well. In the afternoon, our plans were to visit the shelter for her supply of Heartgaurd and then the pet shop to get her crate. Due to my “awesome” planning, that meant that we would have to travel  from somewhat north of the island to the east and then turn to go to the west before we head home. The entire car ride is going to take more than an hour, perhaps two depending on traffic. (Thank you car-driving Mr P!)

Since the car ride was going to be long, I decided to try giving Donna some ginger, because apparently it can help. (Reference links at end of the post.) She seemed quite interested in it, licked it quite a bit but also kept flicking her tongue so that the ginger ended up all over the floor, and then licked at the ginger in the bowl some more. Should have just given her a whole slice rather than cut into little bits! I’m not sure if any of it went into her actually :P

See the mouth? She’s more relaxed on the right than on the left. In fact, I wasn’t so used to her with her mouth clammed shut like it is on the left and as recent as two nights ago, I worried if it’s swollen because she was allergic to something!!! Oops…

It had been quite some time since the last occasion where we took her out in the car so she may have been quite nervous. But her clammed up mouth loosened after a while, so good. (Although there was less drooling when she clammed her mouth shut :P).

Note, as we seldom drive her out, we have not gotten a car travel harness for her. But that is really advisable because the silly dog decided to stand up on a whim, just as Mr P had to brake suddenly and the silly dog was swept off her feet to the bottom of the car seat!!!! Luckily, it was a gentle bump for her and she was not hurt or shaken up. I think I was more shaken up than her. So yes, we are not always good friendbeasts to our dog. D: Hah! Looking into car dog harness in our next purchase… my goodness, the dog shopping list just keeps getting longer!

The return of a gentler dog

So anyway, we made our way to the shelter – Gentle Paws – without any other mishap. We haven’t brought her back for a long time and Mr P was worried that she would revert back to her crazy pup behaviour that she was so used to before we adopted her.  Instead, she remained calm and was able to walk with me slowly (without pulling) along the narrow corridor bordered by cages with barking dogs until we reach the shelter entrance.  I’m so glad Florence (who introduced Donna to us) could see Donna now in her calm and friendly state. Her old cage is now shared by Buddy and a larger black dog that kept barking non-stop, kind of reminiscent of when Donna was in there with Buddy.

The crate we bought for the dog and crate training

Then it was off to the pet shop for her new crate, or dog cage, as the pet shop owner called it. I wasn’t too sure about it when I saw it because everyone else online seemed to have crates that open at the end of it. The one the shop sold had the door in the middle along its length rather than along the breadth of it. But it came as one-piece of equipment that was collapsible, with a handle. So it looked easy to travel with and also to set up, and we’ve already traveled there, so we bought it.

The crate had a door on top as well. At first I thought it rather useless, but when it came to trying to get Donna to go into the crate initially for treats, it proved extremely useful for dropping the treats in. When I dropped it in from the door at the side, Donna who was next to me got distracted by the treats and would rather sit by the crate and try to get rewarded by offering to shake-a-paw or play-dead. So I had to move the treats away from her to the top instead.

Then because she really didn’t want to step on the floor of the crate, she would try very hard to stretch and crane her neck, while standing outside, to try to reach the treats further in the crate. It was pretty funny to watch. :P

After a while, we were able to progress to a point where I need not drop the treats in from the top anymore, so the door on top stayed closed and she got used to it that way. What I didn’t realise was that meant that when I wanted to take the pictures above, with the door on top opened, she would refuse to go in when I ask her to! Once I closed it, she got in readily but got out again when I lifted up the door. We had to practice a few times before I could take the picture. :P

Perhaps because of her “give me food I beg you” face, all the pictures of her in the crate looked miserable. D: So here’s a video.

I neglected to tell her to stay, so she went back in after she had enough of sitting I guess. :P

And then yesterday morning, as I was just getting her breakfast ready and not paying much attention to her, she disappeared quietly. Coming out of the kitchen I found her in her crate! Obviously waiting for breakfast to be served. I was so pleasantly surprised I had to take a picture, no matter how ugly a crate looks :P and anyway, I zhng*-ed (*singlish; to modify/beautify/upgrade) it. Hah!!

I’m going to have breakfast in crate, thank you. 

The behaviour is transferable!

Previously, she had learnt to go to her bed when I was busy sweeping the floor. Since one of her beds is now in her crate, she has managed to transfer that learning to mean that she should go to her crate when I sweep the floor without me asking her to do that. :D She is one smart girl!

Note, while she would happily go into the crate for food or to keep out of the way, I have not caught her going in there to sleep or do anything else besides sniffing for food. But that’s OK, my main aim was to just ensure there will be a safe den available for her to use should she feel a need to, rather than for the crate to become her bed or a temporary enclosure. Although, we should probably slowly get her used to being inside while the door is closed, just in case she ever needs to be crated for medical reasons.

Natural aids for motion sickness
To cure your dog’s motion sickness


Fear of thunder? Tuna-do it!


Read my eyebrows, human!


  1. Yay – big high five to you and Donna – persistence works!!

  2. Donna, I am so proud of yoooowooowoooooo, Ku

  3. Great thought to get her a crate, and great job! She’ll probably use it a lot more than you ever anticipated. I apologize if I’ve asked you this before, and I feel like we had an exchange about it that I can’t completely recall, but have you ever tried the ThunderShirt on Donna?

    • No you have not asked before. No worries. I hadn’t really considered the thundershirt before since I wanted to try the food and crate route first. With the storms coming back in the last few days, I have since realised that sometimes, she gets too frightened that she does not respond to food anymore so I am thinking about trying the Thundershirt and have in fact written to ask the company for a trial. ;)

      • Excellent. I’m sure they will respond positively. I did the same, and they were very receptive. I have done a few posts about the ThunderShirt and have seen a lot of positive results. Good luck! I look forward to hearing more about it.

  4. Sounds like you’ve all been very busy and making lots of positive progress. Congrats!

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