Dog Gates and Crates

Teaching our dogs how to be happy on the other side of a gate or in their crate is pretty easy but will take a bit of attention and training.

In a crate or behind a baby gate is a lovely and secure place for dogs to spend time when you’re not at home or you can’t be watching them because you’re in the shower, taking care of a baby, or busy making dinner, just to name a few.

The techniques in the excerpt below will apply to crate and gate training equally. Whether you are crating for puppy potty and house manners, or gating so you dog can see your baby having floor time, the process will be the same.

Behind the gate or in the crate should be a safe place where your dog is not disturbed and where they can have fun with wonderful safe things like – toys, food, treats, a kong, a bone, and more. Remember if crating for puppy potty training, the size of the crate should be large enough for your pup to turn around, lie down, and stand up without crouching. More on puppy potty and manners in the Puppy 101 series.

An excerpt from:
Pg 52 – 54
Teaching our dogs how to be happy on the other side of a gate or in their crate is pretty easy but will take a bit of attention and training.
  • We begin by tossing a treat for our dog as we close the door of the baby gate (or crate) so the dog is on the other side.
  • Then treat him for being on the other side of the gate or crate. Take a step away, then return and treat him.
  • Take enough steps away so you cannot reach him and toss the treat.
  • Return to the gate and treat him. Then move farther away and toss the treat. Repeat this rotation of reaching out to hand them a treat and tossing him a treat from farther away. You don’t want him thinking you always have to be near the gate or crate for him to get something. He needs to never know when he might get rewarded except that it is when he is on the other side of the gate or in the crate. Once he has figured this out, you can move to the next step.
  • NOTE—if your dog starts to jump or bark, you should turn away, walk away, and IGNORE him—DO NOT TALK to him, DO NOT LOOK at him. As soon as he is quiet—toss the treat. Your dog will figure out quickly that quiet gets him what he wants.
  • If your dog will work for his kibble—great. However, if not, you will need a treat that is higher value. Please be sure to read the ingredients of the treats and look for treats that have meat as the first ingredient.
  • Once your dog is happily standing quietly on the other side of the gate or in the crate, then start asking the dog to settle there. Follow the settle directions from above adjusting for your being on the other side of a gate or crate.
  • Eventually you walk away from the gate or the crate and go do something. If you will be doing something that won’t allow you to intermittently return to the dog to treat him, or you won’t be able to toss him a treat, for example if you are taking a nap or a shower, leave him with a Kong, stuffed bone, or puzzle toy so he is happily occupied while you are otherwise engaged.
  • Eventually, when your dog is on the other side of a gate or in the crate, you will no longer need to interact with him because he will be content with this place and not need further assistance.
  • If your dog is really opposed to being alone, however, there will be some setbacks. You can always feed him his meals on the other side of the gate or in his crate while you are in another room in addition to working the above steps.

Pinball getting sleepy in his crate.

NOTE:

If your dog hurts himself in the crate you will want to try to build happy crate time following the steps above but at a much slower pace and only for occasional use. While you may not envision putting your dog in a crate regularly, there are situations in addition to management that will call for your dog to have crate time, such as: the dog is lost and taken in by Animal Control, or the dog is injured or must undergo surgery that requires them to be crate-rested for a period of time. If your dog finds himself in either of these situations and is unhappy in the crate, he will be extremely stressed and may hurt himself while crated and his crate fears will only increase. If your dog simply cannot adjust to a crate, do not force the issue.

For more tips on keeping dogs and kids safe together see:

Please Don’t Bite the Baby and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.

Whole Dog Journal training article

For those of you who don’t subscribe to the PleaseDon’tBitetheBaby blog, I am cross-posting:

Once again Pat Miller CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA has written a lovely article for the Whole Dog Journal that offers families with dogs some great tips on keeping kids and dogs safe around each other.

If you subscribe to The Whole Dog Journal, you will see this month’s March 2018 edition with the article: “Kidding Around, Combining kids and dogs in your family can be magical and heartwarming, or cause a devastating tragedy…”

If you don’t subscribe to WDJ, I highly recommend you do, and not just for this article, there is so much more. At least a half a dozen times a month I recommend WDJ to new dog families and even established dog families for the journal’s ongoing commitment to information on training, behavior, health, various products from harnesses to toys, and the annual food guides are invaluable.

Thanks go to Pat Miller and The Whole Dog Journal for reminding families of the some of the ways they can make their dogs and kids safe together. And, thanks go from me for the nice nod to Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.

Every family can work to make their kids and dogs safe around each other with some management, training, and time.

Resource Guarding – “Please Don’t Bite the Baby”

Excerpt…

Resource Guarding can be one of the trickiest behavioral issues to modify and manage because there are so many variations.

  • Some dogs only guard their food
  • Some guard toys
  • Some guard bones
  • Some guard anything that hits the floor
  • Some guard whatever it was they just stole

Regardless of what your dog guards and to what degree, the process is the same. There will be adjustments for management and time needed to modify the behavior, but ultimately it is all about teaching your dog that giving up something is far more profitable then guarding it.

And, occasionally, the guarding will pop up for the rest of your dog’s life during stressful periods, or high energy/excited play, but by keeping your dog’s skills in good working order, you will be able to easily resolve any guarding issues.

I have lived with, Pinball, the ‘Super Villain of Resource Guarding’ and have posted an excerpt about my strategies for working through his issues from my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.”

We were all a bit worried when our son arrived in our home with the ‘Super villain of Resource Guarding’ living there. However, by teaching Pinball good solid commands, and slowly allow him and my son to spend managed time together, we saw things we never expected to see. This video where Charlie Brown Takes a Dive is a great example of how far a resource guarding dog can come with some skills, management, and persistence.

 

In the end, if your dog guards things, training good skills then working with a good behavior consultant is essential to take those skills and turn them into more positive behaviors.

Odin preparing for his family’s new baby. Good Boy!

Odin’s family took time before their new baby came home to learn how to and what to train Odin to do to keep their family happy and safe together.

Odin’s family is expecting their first baby any day now – maybe today!
Odin preparing
Odin settled near his new baby girl’s automated swing.

When she arrives everyone’s life will be changed. Mom and Dad know what’s happening, Odin probably doesn’t.

In this picture Odin has been given his settle command while the swing gently goes back and forth in close proximity to him.

It is important to see how our dogs behave around new baby gizmos before baby arrives because:
  • There won’t be a lot of time when baby comes home
  • If we wait until baby is actually in the swing or vibrating Pack-n-Play or other moving and/or sound making device, we won’t know if our dog is reacting uncomfortably because of the gizmo or the baby
  • And, if we know ahead of time that our dog is not as comfortable with the baby gizmos, we can desensitize

Odin’s family took time before their new baby came home to learn how to and what to train Odin to do to keep their family happy and safe together.

For more details on how to keep your baby and dog(s) safe and happy together, see:

Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.

Congratulations to Odin and his family – it is all well worth it!

WAIT vs STAY

The difference between Wait and Stay can mean the difference between successful management vs everyone running down the street chasing the fluffy lighten-bolt that is their dog.

Dog training commands should be simple, but can often become complicated and confusing for the dog (and human too).

For example, if one handler uses command “X” to mean one action for their dog, and then another person uses command “Y” for the same action, our dogs are left having to remember which word which person uses for which command. And, handlers are left wondering why their dog isn’t understanding and preforming simple commands.

Pinball couch headtilt
“Say what?”

The dog’s internal response is probably the dog version of, “Honestly, I’m not sure what either of you mean.”

To make life easier for everyone, dog, handlers, parents, kids, dog-sitters, trainers, etc., it is imperative that everyone in the house use the same command for the same behavior.

The Wait and the Stay commands are often used interchangeably.

In a home with low distractions, one dog, and no kids, this is probably not a huge problem. However, when we start layering the distractions like kids, other dogs, many visitors, etc., the difference between Wait and Stay can mean the difference between successful management vs everyone running down the street chasing the fluffy lighten bolt that is their dog.

The definitions of Wait and Stay in standard dog training are…

Wait – Hang on a second or two, (a short duration) then receive a follow-up command or release word.

Stay – Hold position, freeze in place for an undetermined length of time (could be awhile).

The difference is often hard to see at first, but in the dog’s head it is a major difference in difficulty.

Wait is something a dog can usually achieve even when they are cranked up by exciting visitors, or stressful situations.

However, the Stay is harder to hold depending on how stressed or excited a dog might be.

To understand this in terms we humans experience, we need only look to air travel. We experience differences in difficultly between a short fifteen minute wait to board our airplane, verses the delayed flight that could be hours. One is much harder than the other for different reasons for different people, but in the end, the two different lengths of delay are very different demands on us.

Here are some sample situations where I would use the Wait and Stay commands differently:
Wait
  • Dog wants to go outside
    • Ask for wait before opening the door.
    • Door is opened only if dog holds position for a few seconds
  • Aunt Millie is knocking on the door
    • Ask for a wait
    • Door opens if the dog is holding position
    • Once Aunt Millie is in, the dog gets the go say hello command.
  • Baby drops toy
    • Ask dog for a wait
    • Pick up toy before dog gets there, or redirect the dog with a touch command.
Stay
  • In an elevator
    • Ask for a stay
      • Dog freezes in place for the duration of the ride regardless of the number of people getting in and out
    • At the veterinarian
      • Ask for a stay for the examination, shots, blood draws
        • Your veterinarian will thank you
    • At a traffic light
      • Ask for a stay
        • Dog freezes in place for the duration of the light regardless of the distractions that go by, like bicycles, skateboard, other dogs, etc…

Your dog will learn the difference between these two commands because once you have an understanding of what the commands are, you will mark and reward the appropriate behaviors.

You give your dog the WAIT command and he holds a position for a short duration – Praise and Reward.
You give your dog the STAY command and she freezes in place for an interval between one and three minutes – Praise and Reward.

Wait and Stay are two of the basic, essential commands I outline in Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs And they are initially covered in the Basic classes I teach, then expanded on in the Intermediate classes.

If your dog doesn’t have a good wait and a solid stayit is time to do some homework.