Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Crate and Rotate Routine

We live in a happy two-dog household, but you won't see any pictures of Badger and Mushroom snoozing together in a puppy pile because it's never happened. In fact, Badger and Mushroom are happiest when they're not together, so we've settled into a crate and rotate routine.

I don't think crate and rotate is publicized nearly enough as an alternative to rehoming a dog. As we like to say, Badger and Mushroom are both wonderful dogs, just separately.

I'm awesome
I beg to differ (and for treats)

Crate and rotate isn't only for dogs that are aggressive toward one another. In fact, Badger and Mushroom get along with each other and most other dogs. However, they are very excitable when they play together, so we need to always keep an eye on them, rewarding them for calm behavior and separating them if they get too rowdy.

Crate and rotate is also good for dogs that need to stay calm because of a medical condition. Mushroom was recovering from heartworm treatment when she first came to live with us. This is actually the reason we started to use crate and rotate.

Since L stays home with the dogs, one of the dogs will be crated in the morning/afternoon, and the dogs switch in the evening when I come home. We try to alternate which dog gets the "morning shift" vs the "night shift" because I only get to interact with the "night shift" dog on weekdays. For me, the biggest con about crate and rotate is that, on any given weekday, I can only spend time with one dog.

Can it be meeeee?

I've come to recognize that phasing out crate and rotate may not be a good goal for us. Rather, we should focus on helping Badger and Mushroom to be calm around each other. We purchased Patricia McConnell's "Feeling Outnumbered?" booklet yesterday, and I've been reading Dr. Sophia Yin's blog for tips about dog play.

Ultimately, whether we continue to crate and rotate will depend on what Badger and Mushroom are most comfortable with. I did catch them snuggling yesterday while they were waiting for treats.

Didn't get a picture of it, but here's one of both dogs

Thoughts on crate and rotate?
Thoughts on dogs being calm around each other?


  1. It's funny because dogs are like people and there are some people you just react to differently. I think it is responsible that you are keeping the excitement levels low and you are able to manage it in your home. When we were looking to adopt our second we were doing foster-to-adopt and every day from the moment they woke up Miss M would just play and tumble with this dog. They even jumped over furniture (chairs!). We weren't able to manage it, so we don't have advice, but I think separation until they show appropriate calm behavior is good.

  2. I think that is a wonderful alternative to a re-home and I knew you were having difficulty with them in the beginning but I assumed that everything had worked out well and they were fine together (I know, i know what happens when you assume ;)). It's a great thing for both dogs & you & L's sanity. I was lucky enough to only section off a spot for Trinity as she was potty training but then she was free to roam around the house as need be and Kylie never had to be crated or sectioned off. I kinda said, "Eh let's see how they will do together alone roaming the house" I think it's a plus that Trinity isn't very territorial and Kylie never had the chance to be when she first got to our home.

    You are the people that both your dog's need. I give you lots of praise & support for doing this. They hit the jackpot with you guys!

  3. We only have Hank however, we tend to have lots of dog visitors. The pups are put of outside if they start to get to excited, we have a large fenced in backyard that allows this. However, if we can't get them outside for whatever reason we use the baby gate to separate them until they have calmed down. Usually one person goes on one side with one dog and the other with the other dog. We don't allow the dogs to meet at the gate, usually after a few minutes they have calmed down and we open the gate.