by Jeanine Renzoni
Sometimes I think I need something new to enable me to teach something new to my dogs (see Waiting on a battery, my Treat & Train blog). I like the Treat & Train, I’m using it daily and I’ve learned a much more stepwise all-bases-covered approach to training with it. I have no problem recommending it, but maybe you don’t want to fork out another hundred dollars.
Other times I know that if I just think about what needs to be learned I can teach it with the things I have – no need for new purchases. And I don’t like to keep doing the same things (although I do like doing the same things). It’s like having six different dinners that you like to eat every week and then discovering curry or pesto or Chinese hot sauce.
I hope you have a crate (or two), a dog bed and a traffic cone (or anything that could be like a post/tree). Why? ‘Cuz we’re going to use them to do some training.
Why? because almost everyone’s dog needs to be better at staying, coming, going, being directed or maybe you have trouble with your dog at the front door when someone comes knocking? And training is what could fix it, but…
Crate games – at first get the nice go in, come out and go in and stay in in-position whether door open or closed. Treats high value to the dog. Games in short sets, but quick rewards, lots of enthusiasm because this is the basis of sending, staying, coming … all those things that are so useful and here you’ve had this crate all along and thought it was just a housing project.
#1 – go in,treat, come out (if you’re a good throw, toss treats in as your dog goes in, but avoid luring except maybe just a couple of times to start). If you’ve always been pushing your dog in this first step is going to take longer. Get really, really good treats and reward them for small forward movements towards and into the crate.
#2 – go in, door close, sit, door open,treat, come out
#3 – go in, door close, down, door open,treat, come out
#4 – go in, door close, sit, door open, touch collar (hook up leash or unhook while dog remains seated – if not close the door and wait for the sit – reopen, try again), treat, or re-close and try again, treat, come out. If your dog spends nights in a crate practice this 10-20 times in quick succession each morning before releasing from crate.
Take your time making sure your dog really likes going in and staying in the crate, and understands the release cue (OK or Free or …..)
Then when your dog will stay inside whether door’s open or not, and he wants to stay in there, start the more exciting games. Put the rewards where they’re needed.
#5 – go in, come out to hand target
#6 – go in, come out to hand target, go back in
#7 – go in, release to circle cone and back in (add difficulty with opposite direction circle, or more than one circle)
#8 – crate to crate (running between) or crate to bed or rug or target
Always start where you think your dog will be quickly successful, then move up in duration, then move down again in difficulty to move up in distraction or distance.
#9 – crate to crate over treats or past toys
#10 – add something … a child laying like a log to jump over or to find in a game of hide and seek, squeakers while dog is doing go in or stay in, ‘Hello, who’s there?’
Oops, now I’m going to start having trouble finding those nice, cheap, large, hardly used crates that everyone thinks they’re done with because the chewing and potty training are over.