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  #1  
Old 11-27-2014, 02:36 AM
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Lightbulb The Importance of Open Wire Kennels in Extremely Small Dogs

When I first talked to our breeder, I had many questions. One such question I was surprised to hear the answer to.
"What kind of kennel should I get her? I kennel train."
In my mind, a very small, tight, dark kennel was the automatic reply. I pictured the "den dweller" in my mind, and immediately thought of a warm, dark cave. Perhaps a blanket stuffed inside, with folds to hide treats in.
But, without hesitation the breeder replied, "Make sure it's an open wire one. Chihuahuas like to see who's coming up over them."
This reply surprised me, but as I thought as about it, it completely made sense. With size mattering the way it does, I realized the breeder was telling me to teach my chihuahua to use this kennel as a see-through "force field." They way a plexi-glass wall makes you feel at a zoo. So connected, yet so safe. So involved, yet completely devoid of actual decision making (or "mortal mistakes" as it's seen to animals, especially little dogs.)

Isolation (like that of a plastic, closed "cave-like" kennel) can be a great reward for a larger dog who finds it difficult to find his own "zone" (couches and common areas have humans or animals already relaxing on them; his own "spot" or "den" can be very important and cherished to him.) But for a tiny dog, his space is anywhere. He is so small. And his favorite spot is with you. Therefor, his kennel is something different to him. His kennel should be a safe, open place where he can retire to and observe a situation in a completely "SAFE/NO FAULT" zone (a.k.a. when he's in his kennel, he is good and can make no mistakes.) Most "poor" behaviors originate from "neccesity" of "defence." When safe (and able to observe and learn, which dogs love to do) in an open place, "defence" isn't even applicable.

To reinforce this behavior of safety, having your dog sleep in this kennel is essential. My chihuahua sleeps in her open wire kennel every night and loves to because I make sure to surround her with my smell. I put a fresh (gross/sweated in) shirt of mine in every few days, and cover her with the communal couch blanket every night. I've found that, though she knows better, she will always pee away (FAR AWAY) from where she sleeps if she has to go, unless she's confined. That means: perhaps until she's older (she's near 2 years now) and she has time to understand, she'll pee far away from where she sleeps (completely natural instinct)... which is still in my house. Unless I keep her confined. Then, she holds it.

Confined. So... this open wire kennel, it isn't confinement. With it being so open (and portable) it's like her traveling observation pod to our strange human world, and it is an important learning tool she has. Yes, she may think she should be a part of the situation, but in utilizing the open kennel in this way, I can make her feel just as secure "sitting out on the sidelines" (because as pack leader, I know there are situations where she is safer inside.) Or, if she'd rather NOT be a part of a situation (run & hide) I can place her in her kennel and ask her to be a part of the situation in a way that's withdrawn and safe (helping her to adhere to the new situation more readily.) And the relaxtion and security that comes with her sleeping there every night helps her to feel at ease when I ask complicated tasks of her or she feels threatened/insecure.

TO SET THE OPEN WIRE KENNEL UP FOR SUCCESS:
Let your chihuahua sleep in there every night, LOVE the kennel as much as you want your chi to love the kennel and ALWAYS take your chihuahua out to potty every 3-5 hours. Unless you're out on the town every now and again, or sleeping in occasionally, keep to a 3 to 5 hour potty schedule. A chihuahua's bladder is very small, and most wire kennels are large enough for them to potty comfortably in the corner, anyway. Forcing your chi to hold their nutrients longer than 8 hours every day (before a decent age... I wouldn't expect Ponyo to do that right now) is unhealthy. They are very small and their bladders are even smaller!!! In training, giving your chihuahua as many options as possible will most certainly lead to your training success!

... and when your chihuahua is confused about his/her options, an open wire kennel is the surest way to encourage safe & healthy observation and learning! An open wire kennel is the best way to introduce your chihuahua to new places, schedules and events because, if introduced and utilized properly, it will be his manifestation of security while still using all his senses!

Having an open wire kennel can also show your chihuahua more "effects" of his behavior. For example: if Ponyo is WAY to excited, I'll place her in her kennel so she can observe my other two and see the "acceptable" behavior. But if she still won't calm and is still at "Level 9-10" ... then, I place a blanket over her kennel. This shows her that, "Nope, you're going in the wrong direction, so I'm taking away your "visual" sense." When dealing with an already mostly enclosed kennel, this effect is hard to accomplish.
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  #2  
Old 11-27-2014, 12:43 PM

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Maddie, you always have such great info. Very timely for me, since we will be getting no.2,(Precious, the tiny rescue chi posted here a while back) in just a few weeks and I was reluctant to get her an open wire kennel for those exact reasons. I'm really hoping they will want to sleep together, but just in case, I plan to have a crate for her at first. Mickey has a wonderful Nylabone crate (l think large enough for 8 lbs. of combined chis) which has a clear top. Since it's tucked in beside our bed, he couldn't see much out the sides anyway. I think during the day she'll be in our Iris pen with a pee pad and comfy bed. I bought the extensions so I can make the pen large enough for both of them. I would welcome your thoughts and advice. Do you think I should invest in a second (open wire) kennel or wait and see if they prefer to sleep together?
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Last edited by zellko; 11-27-2014 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 11-28-2014, 02:03 PM
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I would say, if you have the means, it's always good to give everyone their own space first. But that depends on the dog!

How old are Precious and Mickey again?
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Old 11-28-2014, 05:30 PM

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Mickey is around 4 and Precious is estimated to be 2-3, both adults, neutered & spayed. Mickey totally adores any girl we meet that is his size or smaller. (There have only been a few) I see the point of getting her a tiny little crate of her own, but I know if I spend the 50-60 dollars, she'll be wanting just to sleep with him in the larger crate. lol I can borrow a crate, but it will be closed 'cat carrier' type. Don't know anyone with a spare wire kennel, especially a tiny one. It might be worth buying, I want her to be as balanced and sociable as Mickey to the extent that I can make that possible.
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Last edited by zellko; 11-28-2014 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 12-01-2014, 03:50 PM
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Oh, I love your new signature!

I would spring for one. I just think that (even though they're a bit klunky) they help desensitize and make them feel safe really well. It would be a great introduction to sleeping next to each other without any sort of social risks at first, setting them both up for success!
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Old 12-01-2014, 08:51 PM

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Thanks! I found a tiny pink one. (18" x 12" and she's only 2.5 lbs.) I think I'll get it.
LOL- That's the same siggy I've had for a while, but I just learned how to make it larger. Wish I had time to do a holiday one, but I will do a new one after we bring Precious home. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with me. Hugs to Ponyo and the other 2.
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Old 12-01-2014, 11:21 PM

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Great suggestions for new owners, thanks so much for taking the time to post this.
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2014, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayda View Post
Great suggestions for new owners, thanks so much for taking the time to post this.
I just hope that, when it comes to the training, some people will go to that forum first and read a few of my rants... maybe it will save them time!!!

Thanks Jayda!
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