Our goal for dogs that complete our training programs is for them to achieve great physical obedience combined with a great mental state. It’s a common belief that a calm dog must have been abused or is afraid, while a dog who is always jumping around is happy. Obviously, either stereotype can be true for certain situations, but a calm dog can actually be a happy dog and the dog who is always jumping around can be highly stressed. By teaching dogs how to relax when you need them to, they can be included more in our lives, and be less stressed by knowing what to do and when.
How Can We Work On Our Dog’s Mental State?
1. Duration work such as Place is very simple but works wonders for the state of mind of your dog. Depending on what issues your dogs are having will depend on how much time they practice Place, but if practiced consistently most dogs will choose to put themselves on Place.
2. Be self-aware. If you want your dog to be calm, interact with them in a calm fashion especially if they struggle with excitement issues already.
3. Move slowly. Although it may sound counterproductive to walk slowly if you are trying to exercise your dog, it can be effective to teach them how to be calmer in general. A slow structured walk is more challenging for a lot of dogs and will give them a great mental workout. Leashing your dog up and heading out the door is also an area to pay attention to.
4. Practice makes almost perfect. While there are no perfect dogs, consistently practicing will teach your dog what the default expectations. Soon enough you will find that your dog needs less direction and just starts to offer certain desired behaviors on their own.
When a lot of people think about crating their dogs, they associate it with being mean, abusive, or unloving. The truth is that proper crate training can prevent or eliminate lots of behavior problems in your dog. We believe that crate training involves a lot more than simply shoving your dog in, and closing the door. We expect dogs to go in when asked, stay inside the crate even with the door open, and relax once they are crated. Dog crate should never be used as a punishment or a way to avoid giving your dog sufficient time and energy outlets.
1. Choose the right size.
You want to choose a crate that is big enough for your dog to comfortably sit, stand, turn around, and lie down. If your dog is still growing, be sure to choose a crate that has a divider included with it. While a few dogs can handle being in a larger crate with zero issues, most will use a crate that is too big for them as a bathroom or a way to stress load.
2. When you have your crate set up, have your dog leashed and walk them up to it with the crate door open.
Having a little food to use as a positive reward can help, but it’s also important to understand that food sometimes doesn’t help if the dog is stressed out or apprehensive about a situation. DON’T throw food in the back of the crate and shut the dog inside if they go after the food. This is entrapment and will cause a lot of dogs to panic. If your dog does go in after the food praise them while they go in, and allow them to come back out on their own. Keep doing this a few times until they get the idea.
3. If you have a dog who doesn’t go in the crate after the food, you will need to use leash pressure to help them.
Applying steady leash pressure towards the crate opening until the dog goes in will help them understand what you want. If you’re using a wire crate, threading the leash through the top wires in the back of the crate will give you more leverage. As soon as the dog goes in, release the leash and praise. If they will take food, give them a little bit as an added reward. It’s a good idea to keep repeating the exercise until the dog is going in on their own with no hesitation. Depending on how resistant they are, you may practice for a while, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you aren’t in a hurry.
4. Keep your cool.
It can be frustrating to work with a dog who is fighting against what you want them to do, but it’s important to not get emotional. The crazier the dog gets, the calmer you should be. If you feel yourself getting upset take a break for a while and try again. If you feel as if the dog may need a break, give it to them and try again.
5. Adding a name.
Once you have your dog going in the crate willingly, it’s time to name it. We often use the word “Kennel”, but you can use any word you want to. As the dog is going the crate you want to say for example “Kennel, followed by good boy/girl”.
Creating & Reinforcing Calm Crate Behavior
It can be easy to get in the habit of letting our dogs out of the crate when they are excited, especially if they have been crated for a while.One thing you want to be aware of it that you are rewarding your dog for excitement if you let them out while excited. If you are just getting up in the morning, wait a while before letting your dog out. If you are still potty training, you may need to get up a little earlier to prevent accidents. Once you go up to the crate, only open the door if your dog is calm, if they are wildly bouncing around walk away, and try again. Open the crate door, and have your dog wait to let out or leashed. If your dog goes to rush out of the open crate, firmly close the door on them to get them to wait. How firm you close the door, will depend on the individual dog. Once your dog is waiting patiently, then you can let them out.
Lena is coming along nicely with her training and has proven that just because a dog comes from a certain background, doesn’t mean that they can’t change for the better. Even though she was originally rescued from a dogfighting operation, she is good with other dogs but cautious. Our focus will be to raise Lena’s confidence while also ensuring that she is a well behaved canine citizen.
Please meet Lena. She and about 30 other dogs were rescued from a confirmed dog fighting ring several months ago , now she is here to work on her lack of confidence around dogs. Despite what a lot of people think, every dog who come from situations like Lena did isn’t viciously dog aggressive. While she is with me I will see how far she can realistically come in her comfort level with other dogs in a normal home, not a dog trainer’s home.