One of the biggest challenges dog owners face is striving for a stress-free life with their dog. Today, we wanted to share five tips that will help strengthen your relationship and reduce stress for both you and your dog.
TEACH HIM TO LOVE HIS CRATE!
When we talk about Crate training our puppies, this means so much more to us than merely teaching him to accept his crate as a place to sleep at night or when left alone – and one which he can’t wait to escape!
While there are many practical reasons that you might want your puppy to go into a crate, such as when traveling, when at the veterinarian’s office, when staying in hotels, whilst sleeping, to aid with house training and many more, “Crate Games” can also be a lot of fun and useful to help train many other behaviors. If your puppy truly loves his crate, think how much happier he’ll be in those really practical situations too!
With a dog that loves running to his crate, you can easily begin the process of teaching him to stay.
As you open the door of the crate, reinforce your dog A LOT for staying inside.
Begin to move away from your crate, and continue to return to reinforce him for staying inside.
Add distractions by waving your arms or dropping food or toys outside the crate, while continuing to treat him for staying inside.
Put on his leash and continue to reinforce. Leash on also means, “Stay in your crate.”
Take advantage of his love of the crate to teach a great distance “Send”.
Think of this as beginning to teach him the concept of sending to a jump/tunnel / send away marker/mat etc.
Once he love, love, loves his crate, use it to work on self-control when asked to perform other behaviors near the open crate.
Can he sit, lie down, touch your hand or spin when outside the crate with the crate door open?
Can he run with you past the open crate, without diving into it?
Think of this as teaching the concept of stimulus control that you will want in many everyday places, such as when a visitor arrives or when you don’t want your agility dog to take the tunnel! ☺
TEACH HIM TO SAY, “PLEASE MAY I?”
Wouldn’t that be great!
There are many places that I’m sure you’d love your dog to do this.
Here I am going to focus on two that I consider being essential both for his safety and your sanity!
When going into or out of any entrance or exit.
There is no doubt we’d like him to say,
“Please, may I go in / out and take a look around?”
From where you are currently sitting this may seem an impossible dream.
However, it really is a very easy behavior to teach and one that is worth every second of time invested.
Watch this short video to see some of the many advantages of this behavior.
How is it done?
It really is as simple as ABC.
- A – Walk through the door
- B – Stand still and stay quiet
- C – Wait for your dog to glance in your direction, click and treat!
Of course, this is just the beginning but what a great start!
Begin in a quiet place with few, if any distractions – e.g. a door inside your home.
Then gradually add more distraction, distance, and duration.
All you’ll need is patience to teach a very reliable behavior.
(See our July 2018 newsletter for more on patience! ☺)
When taking off his leash
“Please, may I run and play?”
Take a look at this short video to see how useful this can be.
How is this done?
Once again, it’s as easy as ABC.
- A – make sure you have a second, safety leash attached and stand on it.
- B – Take off the “real” leash and click/treat as you do so.
- C – Gradually add a little time between taking off the leash and your click and treat. Your pup will soon wait to see if you are going to remember to treat him for his attention. Of course, you are!
As before, this is obviously just the beginning, but another great lifetime habit is being formed.
Begin in a quiet, distraction-free area.
Gradually add more distraction, distance, and duration.
Your dog really does now say,
“Please may I?”
TEACH HIM TO PUT HIS HEAD INTO THINGS!
That might sound strange at first. However, think for a moment how many times you ask your pup to put his head into things during his lifetime. Leashes, collars, harnesses, Elizabethan collars after an operation, muzzles to name but a few.
How many times have you wished that he would do this voluntarily without all the wiggling and squirming.
Wouldn’t that make life easier for everyone?
Of course, it would!
Take a look!
How is this done?
You’re right! By now you know the drill.
It’s as easy as ABC
- A – With peanut butter or similar, teach your dog to put his head into a plastic cup.
- B – Cut out the bottom of the cup and click/treat when your dog puts his head in.
- C – Use other objects for him to put his head into – e.g. a small cone etc. Click and treat when he does.
You know also by now that this is just the beginning. But once this behavior becomes strong, you can begin to use your leash, harness, Elizabethan collar and muzzle as the fun object. Soon you will have a willing and compliant dog that eagerly puts his head into whatever you choose – and your back will probably be in great shape afterward too! ☺
TEACH HIM TO TOUCH A TARGET
“Please, will you get onto the scales, into the car, come up the steps?”
Have you ever wished getting a hesitant dog to comply with these seemingly simple requests were a little easier – especially if he’s a little on the large side?
Well, it can be if you just begin by teaching a Hand Touch.
Teaching this behavior has many, many really valuable uses.
Take a look at some of them here.
The first step, as always, is to train this basic behavior well and, as usual, it’s as easy as ABC! ☺
- A – Hold treats and a clicker behind your back in one hand.
- B – Offer your other hand really close to your dog’s nose.
- C – When he leans forward to investigate and touches your hand, click and treat.
And, yes – of course, this is just the beginning – but it’s an easy and fun behavior to get started and one that, if you take the time to grow it, will help you to teach many, many other skills. (Ask my current advanced Agility students!)
TEACH HIM TO LOVE A BOUNDARY
The dog that will lie on his mat or bed quietly while you prepare the meal, fill the dishwasher, greet visitors or wait your turn in class is a pleasure to be around.
Wouldn’t we all love our dogs to be that dog!
Of course, we would and I know you already know it by now.
It’s as easy as ABC!
- A – Sit in a quiet, distraction-free place with your pup, treats and a comfy bed.
- B – When he gets onto the bed, begin to treat him, continuously on the bed.
- (Quietly feed by putting the treats on the bed, not in his mouth.)
- C – If he gets off, stop treating. When he gets back on, start treating again!
And you’re right – this is only the first stage of this ultra useful behavior. But take a look at our July newsletter to remind yourself of how important it is to break large, ambitious goals into very small manageable steps.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and that you have great fun training the beginning of these simple but truly life-changing behaviors.
As you now know, it’s as easy as ABC!
Happy Training! ☺
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