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Bonnie stays home alone for the first time at sixteen weeks of age.

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I have been training Bonnie for the past couple of weeks to be comfortable in a crate. It's a good thing for most dogs to learn that sleeping in a crate is OK and even fun. Some people use crates to housebreak their dog. Some put their dogs inside when they go away for short periods of time. In the car, it's safer for your dog to be in a crate in case of an accident. Dogs that are comfortable in a crate, are safer in an emergency.

I'm teaching Bonnie to like the crate for a couple of reasons. First, in case of an emergency. We live in California where there can be earthquakes and fires. If we ever have to evacuate and go to a shelter, Bonnie would be very comfortable in her crate. Also, until Bonnie is safe and well-behaved in the house and yard, the crate will keep her safe if we have to go away for a little while.

I bought Bonnie a very nice, very big wire crate so that she could see out. She didn't know that he was supposed to go in, so we had to teach her. I set up the crate and put lots of soft blankets inside. I threw some cookies inside. She put part of her body in, ate them, and came back out.

I left the door to the crate open so Bonnie could go in as much as she wanted. Gradually, she went all the way in.

A day or two later I threw in one of her favorite toys, a Kong stuffed with dog treats and peanut butter. She thinks these are yummy. Bonnie went into the crate, got the Kong, and took it to the middle of the room. I picked the Kong up, threw it back in the crate. She repeated her behavior. I repeated mine. This time she gave up and laid down in the crate and spent ten minutes eating the cookies in the toy. I closed the door quietly and she was just fine. This was the first time the door was closed! I only closed it for a moment.

For days, I let Bonnie enjoy the crate on her own terms. She went in whenever she wanted. Three times a day, I put her food dish in the crate and that's where she ate her meals. The crate was becoming a good place to be. She became more and more comfortable every day and I began to keep the door closed whenever Bonnie was in the crate.

Then we were ready to start increasing the time that Bonnie was in the crate. Giving her something to eat or play with in the crate makes her stay more comfortable. The next thing I did was to start leaving the room for a minute at a time and then returning to where she could see me. Gradually she got more and more comfortable and I was able to leave the room for up to forty-five minutes, but Bonnie could still hear me moving around the house.

Finally I decided it was time to see if Bonnie could stay alone. I needed to leave the house today for about 30 minutes. I put two puppy-sized Kongs and a couple of bones with treats inside the crate. I set up my video camera, pointed it at the crate, and turned it on. I wanted to see how Bonnie did while I was gone. Next, I encouraged Bonnie to go inside and I closed the door.

I went to the store and when I came home, Bonnie was asleep in the crate. Everything seemed fine, but I had to check the video to make sure she was calm while I was gone.

You'll see in the video above, that Bonnie did get a little nervous, looking around for me. She only barked once and let out one small cry. Then she was able to calm herself down. I was gone a half an hour, but I've shortened the video to only two minutes. I picked out the most interesting parts to show you.

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