I was at a Home Dog Training session last week in Decatur with a new client and his misbehaving fourteen-month-old Collie named Jason. Even though Jason was still in his “puppy time” and “some misbehavior” should be expected, he was just over the top. He continually jumped on my clients, grabbed their hands to have them take him outside to play, rush the door whenever the bell rang, stole food from the table, and “just didn’t listen”.
After a several minute conversation with my clients, I discovered the reason for Jason’s actions. He was my clients’ first dog and they wanted to make sure that he felt happy with them. To that end, they made sure he got everything he wanted and they were always there to oblige his every whim. The problem then arose when they wanted him to do something for them. Bottom line; he ignored them completely.
I told them that because of their obligatory actions, they were telling Jason that he was the boss of the house and he could do whatever he wanted. I then went on to train them how they could be “the boss of Jason” and still provide a loving and caring environment for him. Within a few hours Jason was willingly obliging their commands and respectfully providing them with calm and constant focus. They were amazed with the results and looking forward to continuing the process.
As I was wrapping up, I asked if they had any additional issues or questions. They said that it was a “major production” every time they had to get Jason into his crate for the evening. He thought it was a game and did whatever he could to keep out of the crate and “extend the game”. Did I have any suggestions…
I told my clients that Collies are extremely intelligent dogs. I should know because I grew up with Collies. My clients had to recognize that they had to take all forms of adrenaline creating experience (i.e. Hey, this is play time!) out of the picture as they were putting Jason in the crate for the evening. I also emphasized that they had to perform this in a way that Jason understood that it was a command coming from them and that Jason had no other option than to obey. On top of that, they must perform this action without the use of force or coercion. They needed to have Jason obey their command as a simple “matter of fact”.
To accomplish this, we needed to create a situation of “I will always go into the crate because that is what I do, and I love my crate”. I suggested the following:
THE CRATE IS A GREAT PLACE…
The first thing my clients needed to do was to start feeding Jason in the crate. Whenever they decide they are going to give him a goodie or dog toy, throw it in the crate for Jason to retrieve. Place his special blanket in the crate. Get down by the open front door of the crate and play with him while the door is open and he is inside. I emphasized that they should initially keep the door open at all times while performing these actions. These actions will create experiences for Jason where he sees the crate as a voluntary place to go where he gets good stuff and has the freedom to leave when he wants.
THE CRATE IS A SAFE PLACE…
After about a week of performing the steps previously discussed, begin closing the crate door every once in a while when Jason is inside the crate. I emphasized that, at this point, the crate door shouldn’t be closed all the time. Every third or fourth time Jason is in the crate, they should calmly close the door for just a few moments. They should then calmly open it again. As Jason sees that closing the door is no big deal because it will soon be opened, he will pay less and less attention to the closed door.
This will allow him to pay more attention to “the fun stuff in the crate” and less time to the door being closed. After a few days, they should extend the time they keep the door closed and start to close the door more often while Jason is inside.
Next, they should get up from the crate, and walk around the room for a few moments. They can even sit in a chair at the far end of the room. They should continue this until Jason is fine with their distance from the crate. Now, when they get up from the crate to walk around the room, step out of the room for a moment. Next, I told them to extend the time they are outside of the room and out of sight. If Jason starts to whine or bark, they should step back in sight, wait a few moments, and then step out of sight again. They should continue this process until they can remain out of the room and out of Jason’s sight for an extended period of time.
LET’S PREPARE TO GET JASON EASILY INTO HIS CRATE…
Jason is now programmed to understand that the crate is a great place to be and a safe place to remain. It is time to easily walk him into the crate whenever we want. I told my clients that they needed to get Jason used to wearing a leash hooked to his collar. The first step is to have him wear it at different times during the day. After several days, it will become “just another thing” for him and he will become used to walking around with a leash sometimes on him and sometimes off him.
After a few days of “Jason walking around with the leash”, I told my clients to start walking him around the house. For no reason, they should calmly pick up the leash and then slowly meander through the house for a few minutes. The “initial meandering” should not take them near Jason’s crate. After several days of walking in this manner, they should then walk near the crate during their “calm and seemingly nonconsequential” walking time. As they approach the crate, they should pass near to the open crate door but not direct him into the crate. They should always remain calm and maintain Jason’s focus on them.
INTO THE CRATE YOU GO!
Now, on one of the walks, I told my clients to briskly walk him right into the crate as they make their “regular fly-by”. As soon as he enters, praise Jason in a high and happy voice. Have one of his toys, his dinner, or a treat waiting for him in the crate. As they are directing him inside the crate door, verbalize a command such as “Crate”, “Home”, “Place”, “Bed”, etc. (I told them they could choose any command they wanted.) To help reinforce Jason’s entry into the crate, they could also have the treat in their hand and toss it into the crate as they verbalize their command.
They needed to repeat this for a few days until Jason starts to pull towards the crate when they give the command. Finally, they should start saying the command farther away from the crate’s door until they have reached the spot they would normally want to give the command.
Now it is time to finish the process. As soon as they give the command, drop the leash and let Jason go to the crate all by himself. They should practice this step for about three or four days until Jason constantly goes into the crate with the dropped leash. Once this takes place, they can remove the leash.
Next, guide Jason around the house without the leash. When they get to their “command spot” (place they normally will be standing when they want Jason to go into the crate), verbalize the command. Jason should now go into the crate all by himself through the simple use of the command.
All we have done is what I teach my dog training clients every day. We have broken the problem into multiple steps with singular correct and incorrect actions. We have worked on each action until the correct action has been consistently delivered. We move on to the next action and repeat the process. My client can now get his Collie easily into the crate at nighttime or any time.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and superb families and are ready to help you.