Friday, June 14, 2013

How Crate Games Can Make Your Dog a Great Dog

Rocco waits patiently in his crate, exactly what he should be doing
in Stages One and Two of Crate Games
It's another FitDog Friday and K9 Kamp doubleheader, so why is Rocco sitting inside in his crate when his pals are outside in the sunshine?

Well, first of all it's 90 degrees in Atlanta and it can get pretty miserable when you have a permanent fur coat.

And second, we're taking advantage of the nice air-conditioning while we're playing crate games, specifically Susan Garrett's Crate Games for self-control and motivation. This was the activity that we signed up for at K9 Kamp, brought to you by Kamp counselors Peggy at Peggy's Pet Place and Jodi at Kol's Notes.

We chose crate games as our activity because it promises great foundation training for the agility we want to do -- encouraging things like control and enthusiasm. Crate Games also offers a variety of benefits for any dog, like training behaviors that can be really important for your dog's safety such as teaching him to wait patiently at the door without bolting out and allowing you to grab his collar quickly whenever you might need to.

Skills learned in crate games can also translate to:
  • Making your dog a more welcome guest
  • Building a great relationship with your dog
  • Getting your dog comfortable in any crate or carrier, including an airline carrying bag
  • Adding an element of safety when unloading your dog from a crate in a car
  • Decreased stress when you have to leave your dog

This week, we watched the Crate Games DVD again and practiced the first three stages:
  • Stage One: I Love My Crate -- this is where Rocco learned to sit patiently in his crate -- even when I kept opening and closing the door -- while treats fell from the sky were fed by my hand high and in the back of the crate. Stage One conditions your dog to love his crate.
  • Stage Two: Are You a Gambler -- this is where Rocco learned to choose to stay in his crate even while I left the door open and provided distractions like picking up his leash and attaching it to his collar. Stage Two helps your dog learn more control and starts teaching useful skills like being patient while you attach their leash. 
  • Stage Three: Yer Out Yer Out and the Collar Grab Game -- this is where Rocco learned to enthusiastically fly back into the crate after being released. He also learned to allow me to grab his collar, something that can come in quite handy in an emergency. Stage Three is all about building enthusiasm for the game. 
We shot a couple of short videos to show you Rocco's progress. However, since these games really take two hands I'm going to need to get a tripod or a camera man to help me next time! I think you'll at least get a good idea though!

Here Rocco shows his skill at staying in the crate, even when he hears the door unlatch. He also waits patiently with the door open. At this point, we had trained Stage One and were progressing to Stage Two.


Good boy Rocco!

In this next video, we've progressed to Stage Three. I release Rocco from his crate and then grab his collar (it looks like a hunk of fur, but I really did have his collar!). And then watch Rocco dive back into the crate!


You'll notice I haven't named any of these behaviors yet or actually told Rocco to go to his crate. That's because he's still learning and we want to make sure he's perfected these skills before naming them. Otherwise, he might associate the name with some early mistakes made and carry those into the more advances stages of the game.

In her DVD, Susan Garrett says you might perfect Stages One and Two in an hour, but that you should stay at Stage Three for quite some time -- anywhere from a week to about a month. Since we've barely put in more than an hour at this point, we still have plenty of work to do before progressing to Stage Four.

This week, we'll work on building more enthusiasm for flying in and out of the crate. When we're ready, we'll move to Stage Four where we'll start naming behaviors and learning more advanced skills like adding distance and distractions.


Today also is FitDog Friday, the weekly Blog Hop brought to you by To Dog With LoveSlimDoggy and Peggy's Pet Place to promote a healthy active lifestyle for pets (and their people, too!) and to help combat pet obesity. Join in every Friday by linking up your FitDog story or visiting the blogs in the Hop.

22 comments:

  1. I was crate trained. It was very helpful when going to agility trials (even though we used the collapsible crate). I had my crate at home till I was 10 years old. Good job Rocco. Happy FitDog Friday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

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    Replies
    1. No wonder you're such a good pup, Sugar!
      Your pals,
      Diane and Rocco

      Delete
    2. Right now you’re probably reading this message because you’re desperate to finally learn how to not only train your dog quickly and effectively, but you also don’t want to have to spend a huge chunk of cash on professional dog trainers or read yet another dog training book that doesn’t get you results.

      Don’t worry, you’re NOT alone in your frustration!

      Find out here: How To Teach A Dog?

      Best rgs

      Delete
  2. Crate training is a good alternative to have for lots of reasons. It's Jack's safe haven and he still sleeps in it every night - not the whole night, but that's his 'deep sleep' space.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree. I love crates!
      Your pals,
      Diane and Rocco

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  3. Jimmy grew up on the Crate Game DVD also. I can't say we mastered it because I lost interest, but it did give Jimmy a great start-line stay in agility. I may worry about bars going down or a blown contact, but I walk away from the start-line with confidence thanks to Susan G.

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    1. That's good to know! I'll take a good start-line stay.

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  4. We were never crate trained as mom couldn't "lock us up". Instead she used a baby gate in an indestructible room. The other thing is that my sister is so big that crate takes up half a room, mine for flying had to be pretty big too because I am so long. I think for a smaller dog it would be really practical but for us mom finds the baby gate a simpler solution if someone is sick or something. They have those soft crates not too which would also work better but at this point we are old enough that we don't need one. I guess most dogs would just jump over or push a baby gate aside but we don't do that for some reason.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Cosmo used to jump over the baby gate and I think Rocco would do the same. So for us a crate is a great option and it doesn't take up too much space, since the Roc's pretty small! Funny how taller dogs might not bother a gate but a smaller ones will leap or climb over!
      Your pals,
      Diane and Rocco

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  5. Luv it. How did you get him to go run back to the crate?

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    Replies
    1. I know, isn't that crazy? We made the crate the best place ever with lots of rewards and then when I let him out, he learned (by his choice) that if he went back in he'd get more treats. We did it by shaping the behavior, no luring!
      Your pals,
      Diane and Rocco

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  6. I've never crate trained a dog before (I really should have with my first dogs but I didn't know any better then.)

    But Honey is great with her crate. I've found it a really helpful skill. Unfortunately. her crate is huge. I have to squeeze in to pass by it in the bedroom.

    I can't wait to see Rocco zooming in and out like I've seen on Garrett's videos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't wait to see him zoom in and out with that kind of enthusiasm too! He's off to a good start. We ARE lucky that Rocco's crate is pretty small.
      Your pals,
      Diane and Rocco

      Delete
  7. We've never done crate training. Rita came to us with a crate, but she didn't seem to be super fond of it. We gave her the option to sleep in or out of it her first night here - and she opted for our bed! :)

    I definitely can see the advantages of a crate though. Guess we should have tried to get her to like it more.

    Rocco's so adorable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hehe! Rocco opts for my bed too. Our pups are no dummies! I do love being able to leave Rocco happily in a crate when I'm out though. I can only imagine the trouble he'd get into otherwise.
      Your pals,
      Diane and Rocco

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  8. I'd never heard of Crate Games before...This looks like a really useful program...I wonder if it's too late to try these with Gizmo...He's never been in a crate...There are so many different activities here at Kamp, and this one is unique

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    Replies
    1. Meant to reply directly to you Gizmo on that last comment, below. But here's a link to the promo for the DVD: http://www.dogwise.com/video/video.cfm?itemid=DTA287 I don't think it would ever be too late to train with crate games. Seems like it's less about the crate and more about learning skills to help focus and provide motivation.

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  9. I don't think it's ever too late!! And if you look at the promo video for the DVD, it's more like training games than it is just putting your dog in a crate. It's really fun at this stage to watch Rocco think, and then head back to the crate on his own!

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  10. Maya and Pierson could certainly use help in stage two. We are working on patience when it comes to me getting their leash out of the closet. Perhaps the crate game can help.

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  11. A really great read and such a beautiful pup!

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  12. I am sure that this one is showing creativity at its best. They are simply looking great and awesome.
    Dog Training

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  13. Most of the dog trainers use innovative ways to teach the dogs to get accustomed to their crates. Therefore, you should find a locally based dog training specialist to can help making the naughty dogs a bit disciplined.

    ReplyDelete