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Blog posts from April 2016

Posted on April 12, 2016

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home


Meet Jake. He is a sweet, fearful, precious Portuguese Water dog with a
few insecurities.

During the first week that they had this little guy, Alex and Nelly experienced
Jake chewing his way out of his first crate!  Granted, this crate was soft walled
(made of nylon and heavy duty mesh), however, they discovered that Jake would
do whatever it took to escape. He managed to chew his way through in no time at all!

HOME ALONE TRAINING - Training for Independence

Jake's parents, Alex and Nelly, were used to child rearing. They already had two
darling boys who adore their new puppy family member. They understood the
importance of management and purchased a sturdy wire crate to ensure there
would be no more escaping!  For a training plan, we emphasized that crate training should happen daily in very small increments. We recommended a crating schedule of 10x per day for 2-20 minute intervals.

OUTLAST THE PROTEST - Be patient

While we were there during our visit, Jake was crated three times. His first go
around was a tad painful, as expected. He screeched and cried much like he did
every time his family crated him. We waited the noise out. We gave him “Watch It”
warnings twice. Then said, “Enough!” – the final warning - before covering the
entire crate with a blanket.

Jake stopped his high-pitched complaints almost immediately. He changed his
tune to a low growl. Nelly expressed some concern because this sound was
new. We assured her that this was a good thing and waited out Jake’s protests.

The key to these crate training exercises is to ALWAYS OUTLAST YOUR DOG’S PROTESTS. The worst thing you can do is to let them out during or while they are upset!  So we stayed in the room, to give Jake assurance, however we didn’t speak to
him and most importantly we didn’t give in. He growled for a while. Whimpered.
Then nothing...

The silence lasted for about two minutes. This was the perfect opportunity to
open the crate door! Jake had learned to self-soothe and to calm himself down.
We opened the crate door and didn’t make a big deal about it.  No celebrations.
We didn’t give him any attention. It was a “business as usual” attitude.

INCREASE CRATE TIME - Learning to Self-Soothe

We practiced three crate sessions during our visit. We explained that, at first,
people should stay in the room where Jake is crated.  By the third exit from his crate, Jake was peaceful and calm. He would enter his crate (we always tossed treats in for him) and we would remain in the room talking and keeping him company. When he settled down, he would be released.

[Note: Not every dog will learn so quickly. If you think your dog has severe
separation anxiety. Please contact a Zen Dog Trainer!]

FROM THE DOG'S PERSPECTIVE

Before long, they taught Jake to acclimate to being in the crate for longer and longer periods. Jake's perspective:
“I go into the crate...
I wait silently...
Eventually I get released...
But only when I am quiet and relaxed.”

It was a great start!  After our session they had their work cut out for them. They
had to get 10 crate experiences accomplished every day!  

GRADUALLY DECREASE COMPANY

Over time, Jake was gradually exposed to less and less company in his crate room.

His family was eventually able to leave the house.  E.g. A 30 minute
outing, a 45 minute outing, a 1 hr. outing, etc.

For more information on Crate Training for Independence or other
dog training topics, visit us at www.ZenDogTrainingOnline.com to view our extensive
collection of video tutorials.

In addition, you can check out our eBook:  How to Crate Train a dog in 2 Days
 

Posted on April 5, 2016

How to Teach Your Dog to Check-In

How to Teach Your Dog to Check-In

HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG TO CHECK-IN WITH YOU

To teach your dog to check-in, start in a small, quiet room with a hungry dog and some treats your dog really likes. The idea is to be silent and wait for your dog to do the work, so just sit in a chair and ignore your dog.

After 1-2 minutes -- get up from the chair and notice if your dog looks at you, as if to say “where are you going?” If they look at you say “Yes!” and reward with a treat.

By treating when they pay attention to you, you are rewarding your dog for looking at you and encouraging a “Check-in.”

Do several repetitions in a 10 minute training session. Ignore your dog and wait for them to check-in with you. After they catch on to the game, you probably won’t need to get up out of the chair.

Remember, when they check-in with you by giving you eye contact, say “Yes!” and give them a treat.

Changing Environments

You want your dog to understand that checking-in with you will be recognized and rewarded. So practice this game in a larger room or other rooms of the house.

Play several times a day, for 5-10 minutes doing 20-30 check-in’s each time rewarding with treats.

Once they have figured out the game, you can practice in your day-to-day activities. When your dog isn’t expecting it, walk into the room and see if they will check-in with you automatically. If they do, say “Yes!” and reward them.

Taking it on the road

When you and your dog are ready, take the training on a walk.  Put a leash on and walk your dog towards the door as if you were going outside. Before opening the door, stop and wait for your dog to offer a check-in. As soon as your dog offers the check-in, praise them and give them the reward of opening the door!

Note:  If after 10 seconds your dog has not offered a check-in, make a noise to interrupt their focus and try again.

Life Rewards

Playing games like this is called a “Life Reward,” you give your dog something they want after they do something for you. Instead of always relying on treats, you can reward by opening the door and letting your dog outside, or even have them check-in with you before letting them off-leash at an enclosed park. To make sure it works, make sure your dog really likes the reward you plan to give them.

Advanced Training

When you teach your dog to check-in with you, it’s like teaching them to say “May I?” They learn that you are the leader who let’s them get things they like if they first check-in with you.

Of course, you will not always be able to grant your dog’s request. In these situations, still honor the check-in with lots of praise and a substitute reward like a treat. 

Remember training is a two way street!  To be successful both human and canine must participate. You are expecting a lot out of your dog, so stay focused and pay close attention to your dog and the environment. If you are distracted and you miss the check-in the behavior might extinguish itself. In other words, your dog may stop looking to you for guidance and direction.