Crate/Departure ExercisesMarch 10, 2023
Creating a space of comfort is what your dog’s crate should be all
about. Crates are to be utilized for potty training, management, and a
safe place your dog enjoys spending their time. Crates should not be
used as a “lifestyle choice” to confine the dog all day. The following
setup can also be applied with a penned in area, a dog proof room, or
your car. Where it says crate, replace with these other options.
The following is conducted on days when people can give attention to the
issue, so not on workdays where you give a novelty item and then leave
for X amount of hours. This concept can also be applied to a dog with
basic “Velcro ways” where you set up the same scenario with them in the
room they are most comfortable in, give a novelty item, and you move to
another room briefly, then return.
The time frames on leaving/returning is based on each individual dog. Always start with a small time frame to ensure success. This could be seconds at first! If
your dog is displaying ways of being heightened IE. whining, digging,
spinning, biting crate, soiling, the duration of leaving was too long.
Take a break, relax, read a book, and once your dog has settled try
again with a smaller duration. Keeping time on a watch/phone and writing
it down can be extremely helpful.
Make sure when returning to your dog that they do not leave the crate through “asking” ie.
barking or whining. Make noises from where the dog can not see you, upon
quietness open the crate door. Another option is to use a smelly treat
and hold it on the outside of the crate. When your dog goes to smell
the treat they will most likely stop whining. Ask for a “Sit” or
another known behavior and let them out of the crate for doing so.
REMEMBER: barking and whining can be a sign of stress which means your
departure time was too long. Take a break and decrease your departure
time for your next setup.
1) Amazing wonders are found in the crate where treats lead up to it and an interactive Kong stuffed toy is found inside. Do this without closing the crate door.Ensure your dog is allowed to enter and leave on the crate on their own free will.
2) Repeat several times until you see your dog investigating the crate to find “hidden treasures.” At this point it may be helpful to have an old towel for the dog to explore around in.
3) When your dog settles in the crate, preferably after a walk or a bit of exercise, place a novelty reward item with them in the crate*.
4) When novelty item is placed in crate, close door, and immediately reopen.Repeat a few times and take a break
5) Place toy or treats in the crate and when your dog enters and nestles down to enjoy the treats, close the door and then leave the room for a few seconds, come back, and quietly open the crate.This is conducted in what you wear and do on normal days. If you go to work with a certain dress code, be in it. If you only wear makeup when you leave the house, put it on. Set up your leaving appearance to correspond with these exercises. This also includes grabbing keys, bags, purses, helmet for motorcycle, essentially anything your dog can cue on for your departure.
6) Repeat step 5) with varying predictability, meaning give novelty reward, leave for 30 seconds, and return. Change the time from minutes to seconds and in between.
*This novelty item has to be something used only for what we want the end
behavior to be, the dog relaxing and preoccupied with toy. A common
one are Kongs filled with frozen peanut butter, plain yogurt, mashed up
sweet potatoes and carrots, etc. etc (all of which fill the Kong and
then freeze overnight). Whatever ingredients used it has to be a
reward deemed by the dog, if they do not love it, the effect will not
Depending on the dog it is recommended with the return of person to
take away novelty item, the idea being the dog wants person to stay
away longer so they can enjoy their excellent reward. I do not
recommend this with young/new dogs being that I want to make sure we
build a complete trusting relationship and by doing so not taking
things away. Being said, I would prefer to start with taking item
away in exchange for something else be it a treat, a game of tug, or
outside for fun.