Archive for February, 2011

Crate Training Your Dog

A client of mine asked me about crate training a dog. She felt it is cruel to put the dog in the crate where they are confined in such a small area. Well, it could be cruel, if it it is not done properly. Crate training your dog is a great potty training technique, and definitely has its benefits.

Here is how I answered her.

One of the best things you can do for your dog and for you is to integrate crate training into your lives. It takes time and patience, but it will be well worth it. Some people protest the use of crates and think it’s cruel. Remember that they’re thinking in terms of being human, not a dog.

We humans might not like being in an enclosed space, but dogs think differently. If properly trained, dogs will think positively about their crates, viewing them as safe havens just for them.

The idea behind crate training is that the dog should view the crate as his den, somewhere where he feels safe and comfortable. It’s a place he doesn’t mind going to when you ask him to, or when he just feels like it.

For you, this is a safe, convenient way to confine and control your dog. The crate is a great tool for times when you are out of the house and need to leave your dog unsupervised. And with your dog used to a crate, traveling in a car while in a crate will be no problem.

First, choose an appropriate crate for your dog. You want the crate to become your dog’s “den,” so pick one that he can stand up and turn around in comfortably. But you don’t want it too large so that he might be tempted to use one corner as a toilet. Place it somewhere where it’s quiet, but also in a room where he can still be part of the family.

Introduce your dog to its crate by leaving it out with the door open. Put a soft piece of material, such as a towel or blanket, inside, unless you are potty training him. In this case, do not add any bedding. You can also put his favorite toys inside.

Entice your dog into investigating his new den by placing a treat into it. When he does go inside, give him plenty of praise and affection. You always want your dog to associate pleasant, positive feelings with the crate.

Leave the crate door open in the beginning. Just let your dog go in and out as he pleases. As time goes on, use treats and a command, such as “crate time,” to show your dog you want him to enter the crate.

You can feed your dog near or in the crate, creating more positive association with the crate. While he’s
eating, you can begin closing the door for a few minutes at a time. Do this several times a day.

As your dog gets accustomed to the door being closed, increase the time you have it closed. Stay by the crate at first, then leave for a few minutes at a time. Remember not to do too much too soon. Take your time and be patient. This whole process may take weeks.

When your dog can stay in the crate comfortably and happily for a half an hour or more, you can leave the house for a time. When you leave the house and when you come home, don’t make a big production out of it. Keep arrivals and departures low-key and quiet.

Also crate the dog from time to time when you’re still in the house so your dog doesn’t think being crated means being alone.

If you’ve progressed to crating him at night, you might want to keep the crate in or near your bedroom so you can hear him make noise when he needs to eliminate. When you do let him out, make sure he knows it’s just for a potty break. Take him straight outside and give your usual command for going potty.

If your dog is still a puppy, keep in mind that he will need to go potty every two hours or so, depending on his age. Since a dog will tend not use his “den” as a toilet, you will have to pay attention to the time your puppy spends in the crate and let him out for potty breaks.

The crate is not a ‘set it and forget it’ type of deal. You are responsible for the proper use of the crate and
the care for your dog.

Puppies younger than nine weeks should not be crated. Always let your dog go potty before crating and try not to crate any age dogs longer than six hours. Also, limit the amount of water your dog drinks before going into his crate. Let him drink, but allow him time to go potty after drinking and before going into the crate.

If your dog cries when in the crate, and you have followed all the rules about drinking water and making sure he has done his potty, do not let him out. He is crying for attention and trying to manipulate you. If you let him out,he will figure out that if he wants to be let out, all he has to do is cry. Let him out only when he has stopped crying. This will be his reward.

Never use the crate as a punishment. You might be tempted to send your dog into the crate as a “time out” when he’s been naughty, but that will only create problems and negative association with the crate. Correct the bad behavior, replace it with a good behavior, and carry on as normal.

The crate is not a replacement for proper training. If you need help with crate training, ask a reputable dog
trainer.

Obedience Dog Training and Choosing a Good Dog Trainer

Obedience dog training is a great way to teach your puppy how to listen to you, how to behave, and generally how to grow up and mature into a well-mannered adult dog.

The easiest and cheapest way to start obedience training is to take your puppy to group training. The advantage of going to an organized puppy obedience class is that your puppy can interact with other dogs and learn critical social skills. The disadvantage is that you and your puppy may not get the individual attention that your puppy may need.

I have talked to many people, and heard many other stories, about pet owners taking their dogs to group dog training classes and they either didn’t get much out of it, or they were even asked to leave. This is because the dog trainer couldn’t help, or handle, the dog. These dogs really need one-on-one obedience training.

Some of the trainers that teach group classes don’t have much real world experience in training. But, you can find very good dog trainers at some of these classes though. No matter if you choose to go to group dog training classes, or if you prefer to have a trainer work one-on-one with you and your dog, you will follow the same steps in looking for and choosing a trainer.

  1. It is up to you to find out who is teaching the class, and to research this dog trainer. Look for a dog trainer that has many years experience, and find out what associations they belong to, and what certifications they have.
  2. You also want to ask for references. The more the better, and FOLLOW UP! Don’t just look at the list. Call people on the list and ask them questions. Were they satisfied? Why or why not? This is your dog, so you want a trainer who has very satisfied clients.
  3. Have a budget in mind, but don’t go by price alone. You get what you pay for. Find out what kinds of services they offer, and find out what training techniques they use. Are they humane, and are you comfortable with the technique they use?
  4. Ask to sit in on a training and watch them. If they won’t let you watch them in action, what are they trying to hide? If you can watch them, how do they interact with the dog? Are they successful with training the dog? Do they act comfortably and in control, or do they seem ill at ease, or do they get upset easily? You want a dog trainer that is ALWAYS calm, comfortable, and in control, no matter what the dog does. And believe me, dogs can really act crazy at times.

If you follow these simple steps, you should find a great trainer for your dog, whether you choose to take your puppy to a class training, or if you choose to use a dog trainer for one-on-one training. Good luck and good dog training.

I talk mostly about puppy potty training, but, another very important tool in dealing with your puppy is dog obedience training. What I want to make sure everyone realizes is that when you potty train your puppy, this is not the same as obedience training for your dog. This seems intuitive, but I see so many dogs that are potty trained but have no obedience training at all.

You don’t want a dog to go potty in your house. That is why you house train them. Well, you don’t want a dog that misbehaves either. You want a dog that behaves well and does what you say when you give a command. But, for some reason, a lot of dog owners stop working with their dog after potty training. These dogs won’t soil their home, but they may jump up on people, they don’t come when called, they pull when on the leash, and much worse.

Why do people fail to follow through with dog obedience training? I haven’t found the answer to that yet. Bottom line, if you want to have a well behaved dog as an adult, the training must start when they are a puppy. You can either train them yourself, or take classes, or even hire a dog trainer for private sessions.

This is not to say that you cannot train an older dog. Any dog at any age can be trained, if you put in the work. An older dog can be potty trained as well, which I teach in my book “Quick and Easy Puppy Potty Training.” It will just be easier and faster if you start when they are a puppy.

There are plenty of helpful books and DVDs out there so you can start teaching your puppy at home, or you can sign up for a local obedience class near you. Many pet stores offer classes for a reasonable fee. Also, a lot of animal shelters offer classes. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, they will most likely let you know about this.

Even if you decide to train your dog with a profesional dog trainer, it is a good idea to read books, watch DVD’s, and learn as much information about dog training as you possibly can. This will help you form a solid relationship with your pup as you learn and practice training techniques.

Don’t stop at puppy potty training. As you begin to work with your puppy, start to look into dog obedience training. If you want a complete dog, one that is well behaved and is easy to interact with, and one that you are proud of, then you need dog training.

Remember during all the ups and downs you’re sure to face with a new puppy, try to keep your attitude and energy positive, stay patient and focused on your goals, and consult with professionals when you run into obstacles. All of this will pay off in the end when you have a loving and lovable companion.