Twosday Training Tip
TIP #1: GETTING COMFY WITH THE CRATE
A crate, or, in other words, short-term close confinement, can be used to help dogs teach themselves two very important skills. The first is eliminating only when and where it is appropriate. The second skill is keeping out of trouble - behaving appropriately in the house. Without these two skills, a dog doesn't have much of a chance in this world.
To get your dog to go into the crate, start with the crate door open, and toss some irresistibly yummy treats inside. If he is hesitant to go in after them, toss the treats close enough to the doorway that he can stand outside and just poke his nose in the crate to eat them. If you are training with a clicker or other reward marker, each time he sticks is head in, Click! the clicker (or say "Yes!" if you are using a verbal marker).
Gradually toss the treats farther and farther into the crate until he steps inside to get them. Continue to Click! each time he steps in. When he enters the crate easily to get the treats, Click! and offer him a treat while he is still inside. If he is willing to stay inside, keep clicking and treating. If he comes out that's okay too, just toss another treat inside and wait for him to re-enter. Don't try to force him to stay in the crate. When he enters the crate to get the treat without hesitation, you can start using a verbal cue such as "Go to bed" as he goes in, so that you will eventually be able to send him into his crate on just a verbal cue.
When your dog will stay in the crate with the door closed for at least 10 seconds without any signs of anxiety, close the door, latch it, and take one step away from the crate. Click!, return to the crate, reward, and open the door. Repeat this step, varying the time and distance you leave the crate.
- Whole Dog Journal
TIP #2: PLAY NICE!
Owners often have difficulty distinguishing between appropriate and inappropriate play. Some may think that perfectly acceptable play behavior is bullying because it involves growling, biting, and apparently pinning the playmate to the ground. Appropriate play can, in fact, look and sound quite ferocious.
The difference is in the response of the playmate. If both dogs appear to be having a good time and no one's getting hurt, it's usually fine to allow the play to continue. Thwarting your dog's need to play by stopping him every time he engages another dog, even if it's rough play, can lead to other behavior problems.
With a bully, the playmate clearly does not enjoy the interaction. The softer dog may offer multiple appeasement and deference signals that are largely or totally ignored by the canine bully. The harassment continues, or escalates.
Any time one play partner is obviously not having a good time, it's wise to intervene. A traumatic play experience can damage the softer dog’s confidence and potentially induce a life-long fear aggression or "Reactive Rover" response - definitely not a good thing!
Some bullies seem to spring from the box full blown, meaning there could be a genetic element behind this type of personality. However, there can certainly be a learned component of any bullying behavior. As Jean Donaldson reminds us, the act of harassing a "non-consenting dog" is in and of itself reinforcing for bullies.
By definition, a behavior that's reinforced continues or increases - hence the importance of intervening with a bully at the earliest possible moment, rather than letting the behavior become more and more ingrained through reinforcement. As with most behavior modification, prognosis is brightest if the dog is young, if he hasn't had much chance to practice the unwanted behavior, and if he has not been repeatedly successful at it.
- Whole Dog Journal
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Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, FFCP, CTDI