I was in Dawsonville last Monday working with a current Home Dog Training client and his Old English Bulldog named Johnnie. My client got Johnnie as a puppy from a rescue group in Gilmer County and we have been working together for about a month. Things have been going very well and Johnnie is getting used to his new home and his new family. He is no longer nipping and his obedience lessons such as come, sit, and walk; are coming along just fine. We had worked through most of the training goals for the lesson when my client remembered an unusual problem that he had with Johnnie. He had been working with the crate for pottying and safety, but had been running into some strange occurrences. They had been placing the crate in their living room for no other reason than there was extra room there for the crate. When everyone was around, everything was fine, but when they went to other parts of the house, Johnnie began to cry and chew on the bars. He was wondering if I had any tips to help Johnnie feel better and make their lives a little less noisy.
One of the first things that we talk to our clients about is their dog’s natural need for security. The crate can be a very important part of that need for security because it can be established as a “safe zone” where nothing ever can go wrong. We also talk about the dog’s natural, social need of companionship and requirement to be a member of the family. The crate can be a critical part of both of these needs. Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t maximize the crate’s full potential in both of these areas.
So there are two goals that we must accomplish with the crate. One is safety and the other is a sense of social belonging. Let’s start with the safety factor.
We strongly stress that you never use the crate as a form of punishment. Never send your dog to their crate as a direct and displayed result of his being bad. Only use the crate for a happy and safe place. In order to do this, you should never initially close the crate’s door when your dog in inside. We want to make sure that he feels they can come and go as they please.
Next, you should periodically feed your dog in the crate and leave many of his toys in the crate. Allow him to freely enter, stay, and leave as he wishes. Over time, slowly close the door but don’t lock it. This will suggest to him to stay, but will still allow him to passively push the door open to leave.
Finally, once you see him staying in the crate because it has become comfortable and nonthreatening, you can latch the door. He no longer cares because he wants to stay there anyway.
Now, let’s move on to building the crate’s sense of socialization and belonging. Dogs are social animals and like to be with the rest of the family. If the crate is always at the far end of the house with no family members close by, your dog will feel ostracized and abandoned.
You should either move the crate as the family naturally moves through the house or get several crates. You might keep one in the family room and one in your bedroom. This allows your dog to experience the crate in a social environment and will only strengthen its importance to his overall well-being. This will also increase your dog’s focus on the crate being the important factor for belonging and security; not a location.
One last thing, as you are working on the “safety factor”, only practice the “crate time” in one location when there are family members in the vicinity of the crate. This will assure that you will successfully overcome the safety factor first and then work on the socialization factor. Then, you can start to move to multiple locations.
Many of our clients have reported that when they go on vacations, they take their dog and his crate. Wherever the family goes, as long as they have their dog’s crate, the dog feels safe and secure.
Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Dawsonville Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dawsonville Georgia.