I was in Buford last Thursday with a new Home Dog Training client and his Collie, Sophie. (I got my first doggie when I was five and she was a Collie too!) Sophie’s biggest problem was jumping and nipping. These issues are normally caused when the dog thinks they should be in charged and need to escalate their communication process to “explain” that to their masters. Well, we took care of the jumping and nipping pretty quickly by adjusting Sophie’s focus and understanding of her appropriate role in their family. My client was very happy with the initial results and excited to practice what he learned. As we were finishing up, he remembered one more question. He said that it was always very difficult to get Sophie to go into her crate. Did we have any suggestions…
I first asked my client how he was currently trying to get Sophie in her crate and when he normally wanted her in the crate. He mentioned that he only put her in the crate at night when they were going to bed. He normally would turn off the TV and the lights and then say “crate” to Sophie.
At that moment, she would jump up and start running all over the place. It took the entire family to corner her and grab her by the back of the neck. (He said they would grab her hair, so it wouldn’t hurt her.) She would then wiggle and jump as they tried to get her in the crate. Sometimes two of them would have to pick her up to get in.
I explained to my client that all dogs are “creatures of habit”. They often know what is going to happen because we often engage in specific events before unique actions. His turning off the TV and lights is a very unique action before he goes to bed. It is also the exact same action that takes place before the only time he puts Sophie in her crate. What we needed to do was to break the association of lights and TV with going in the crate for the night. Here is what I suggested:
- Make the crate a general “happy place”. Put her toys or treats in the crate so that she has to go in there on a regular basis to get them and leave.
- Feed her in the crate so that she will spend more time in there.
- When she is in the crate, sit next to the front door and play with her.
- Every once in a while, close the door for a moment and then open it.
Now that the crate is “just another place”, we can start to work on getting her in there when we want her. To do this, we first need to establish a clear ability to control passive direction. I suggested:
- Put a leash on her at different times during the day. Don’t make a big deal of it. Clip it on her and drop it.
- Every once in a while, pick the leash up and then drop it.
- Every once in a while, step on the leash when she is walking. As soon as she looks back at you, take your foot off the leash and walk away.
- Every once in a while, pick the leash up and walk her around the house.
After a few days, she will see the leash as “just another thing” and not give it any real focus or meaning. Now my client can take it to the next level.
- As you have the leash on her and are walking, take her past the crate.
- Sometimes pass right in front, other times pass on the side or even the back.
- If she shows any sign of “pull back”, continue your walk with the leash away from the crate and return at a later time.
- Once she is fine walking all around the crate, walk her directly towards the open door but turn away just before you get there. Repeat this until she shows no signs of deviating from your direction.
- Now, walk her right up to the door of the crate and direct her in. Let her stay for a minute and bring her out.
- Repeat the above step with all your other actions for a day or two until she shows no sign of trying to pull away.
You are now ready to easily put her in the crate at night. Remember that this must be done before you turn off the lights and the TV. Here are my final suggestions to my client:
- Be sure to have the leash on her as it is getting close to “bed time”.
- Walk her around when it is getting time for “nighty-night” without putting her in the crate.
- At different times just before “nighty-night” and before the TV and lights go off, direct her into the crate.
- Be sure to praise her with a good girl for a great job.
- Do not turn off the lights and TV immediately. Wait for another five minutes and do other stuff before you “shut down for the night”.
Once you take out “the drama and adrenaline” from the exercise, learning becomes far easier.
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 Buford Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Buford Georgia.