|Rocco waits patiently in his crate, exactly what he should be doing|
in Stages One and Two of Crate Games
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 skywere 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.
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 Love, SlimDoggy 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.