CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Teaching your dog to be comfortable and happy when confined to a crate will not only speed up house training, but can be heir safe place when you’re unable to supervise them. Jill Haley Rose, Certified Professional Dog Trainer from Paws of Nature Family Dog Training gave tips on crate training & showed us how to teach our pup to “drop” when asked.
Crate Training Tips:
- Introduce the crate: Make it a cozy, comfy den. Crate should be big enough that the dog can stand up comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Crate should not be so big that the dog is able to walk into another area and go potty. Leave small, pea sized treats sprinkled around the crate so when your dog starts exploring on his own he is finding tasty surprises. Do not force him to go in there. Feed his meals in the crate, first with door open, then eventually with door closed. Leave tasty treats in the crate with the door shut and your dog on the outside. This creates more of a desire to want to be inside the crate.
- Teach in and out: Have a pile of small tasty treats. Show the dog the treat and toss it in the crate. Praise him for going in the crate. Repeat over and over, tossing the treat further in the crate. If the dog is happily running into the crate, introduce a verbal cue such as “kennel up” or “in your den” before you toss the treat in the crate.After many repetitions, say your verbal cue and wait to see if the dog will run in the crate on his own before you toss the treat. Be patient! When he does, lots of praise and jackpot him by tossing 3 or 4 treats to him in a row. No treats for coming out. When done, say “OK” or “Out”, pat your leg, and walk away
- Shutting the door: Once the dog is happily running in his crate when you give him his verbal cue, start shutting the door for various durations. Feed several treats each time after you shut the door, keep the duration very short, let him back out. Repeat. Practice walking across the room, returning, feeding several treats. Repeat.Practice randomly walking different directions, returning to the crate, and treating. Repeat. Vary the durations he is in there. Use your release cue each time you let him out. Do not let him out if he is making a fuss. Wait for quiet first.
- Maintenance: Continue with varied training sessions. Sometimes it’s the in and out game, sometimes a surprise treat already in there when the dog didn’t expect it.Start multi-tasking – work on crate training while you are doing real life things such as folding the laundry, making dinner etc. It is important that the dog be crated at various times while you are home. If you only crate the dog when you leave the house, you will start to create a negative association to the crate.
“Drop” when asked Tips:
- Condition the dog to lift their head towards you when they hear “whatcha got”: This step is extremely important and many people skip it and don’t create a good conditioned response to the cue. Count out 5 to 10 super yummy semi-moist smelly treats. Walk up to your dog and in a cheerful voice say “Whatch Got?”. The moment your dog lifts his head up in your direction, praise and treat. Practice alternating putting treat in mouth and sometimes dropping on floor. Repeat until all treats are gone.Practice 2 to 3 times a day for a week.
- Do set up with a toy: Hand your dog a toy. Immediately say “Whatcha Got”. The moment he drops the toy, praise, pick up toy, hand him special tasty treat. Repeat5 to 10 times, sometimes allowing him to wander off with the toy for various durations. Practice tossing the treat off to the side while you pick up the item. Practice 2 times a day for 1 week.
- Every moment is a training moment: Start practicing when he least expects it. Take advantage when he is engaged with a toy. Approach him and say “Whatcha Got” in a happy tone of voice. Praise and toss treat off to the side when he lifts his head off the toy. When he does grab a sock or a shoe, don’t panic. This is real life training time. If he doesn’t give the item up immediately it is ok for you to put a treat right on his nose to remind him.
- Don’t be stingy: Your dog is naturally driven to grab and chew on things in the environment. Always trade up for something better in his eyes.Use special training toys so sometimes he gets to have the item back, and it isn’t always us just taking things away all the time.