Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crate Training

Crate training with Fi is going so well!  In a matter of 5 days she has gone from being scared of the crate, to happily going in, laying down, and letting me close the door.  The first couple of sessions, however, were difficult. The metal tray in the bottom of the crate would make a scary noise when Fi stepped on it, so she would run out of there as fast as possible.  Through counter-conditioning the noise, she was able to tolerate it and could lay down in the crate, but she was clearly still not comfortable with the idea.

Then I had an "Ah-ha" moment!  Since she had layers of bedding in the crate, I could remove the tray altogether. No more scary noise!  In the video below you can see how fast and confidently she now trots into the crate.

This is the first behavior for which I have laid out a detailed training plan, and let me tell you, it pays off!  After the first couple frustrating sessions I decided I would chart out exactly what steps to take so I couldn't get overwhelmed.

The Plan (click for each step):

Head and neck inside crate (no legs)
Paw lift
1 paw in
Other paw lifts while one in crate
2 paws in
Paw lift with 2 paws in crate
1 step forward
2 steps forward
Half body in crate (no hind legs)
1 hind leg move
1 hind leg step
Second hind leg moves
Second hind leg steps
1 hind leg in
Other hind leg moves with 1st in crate
All legs in
Touch crate door
Move crate door half way closed
Close crate door

This is just a short video of the progress we've made.  I'm also working on adding duration to being in the crate.

  • I recommend starting with mat training, as in my previous post. This will speed up the crate training significantly.            
  • Depending on the dog, you may need to take more time for the sit/down in the crate. Because we had already worked on this without the crate, she did it almost immediately.                                                   
  • When you first begin crate training, some dogs will be confident enough to go in the crate if you just toss a treat in there.  Fi was not one of these dogs.  If your dog is more wary of the crate, just click for any movements toward the crate, and shape the behavior gradually.

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