Tuesday, 24 June 2014

How to Crate Train Your Puppy, Dog - Tips for Success

Introduce and familiarize your puppy or dog to a crate the right way your dog will not fear or take a disliking to the crate. The crate will not be associated with anxiety and stress…

Introducing, Familiarizing Your Dog with His/Her Crate 

Encourage Your Dog to Explore the Crate On His/Her Own
When first introducing your puppy or dog to a crate, leave the crate door open and  allow your dog to explore the  outside and inside of the crate. Provided you are grounded in your own emotions - i.e. you ‘feel’ that the crate is just another item of furniture in the house, your dog will have no reason to have an adverse reaction to the crate - your dog will be supported in normalizing the existence, presence  and use of the crate. 

Your dog should use his/her nose to sniff the crate, explore both the inside and outside of the crate at his/her leisure. You can put a favorite blanket or toy in the crate to further encourage your dog’s curiosity and normalization of the crate. Don’t make a big excited fuss over the crate - high pitched voices, excited energy etc. Remember that you want your dog to associate the crate with ‘normal’, calm, grounded - relaxed. Don’t wind your dog up, instead quietly - from a place of inner warmth just enjoy watching your dog explore. 

Closing The Door For The First Time
If you feel uncertain, nervous, guilty, anticipate reactive behaviour etc. your dog can sense how you feel and your dog will not be comfortable with the closing of the crate door. Why should he/she be comfortable if you are not? If you want your dog to be in a certain state-of-being you must be in that state first. Dogs love pure logic because they are insightful communicators. Once your dog has entered the crate you can close the door - provided you think of closing the door as normal. It is up to you to lead - you can create normal  or you can create stress.

If you anticipate that your dog will panic, will be uncomfortable, and will not like the crate - you are directing your dog to panic, be uncomfortable and not trust the crate. Dogs are literal beings - not because they are simple-minded nor stupid but instead because they are very aware communicators.
Once a dog has found a crate to be a normal, comfortable place, leave the crate door open when the crate is not in active use - this way the dog may choose to use the crate as a place of rest even when you have not directed him/her to go to the crate. 

Letting Your Dog Out of His/Her Crate

To Let Your Dog Out of The Crate…
The same principles that apply to closing the crate door apply to opening the door - normalize. When you go to let your dog back out of the crate, make sure you are grounded (calm, normal) and that you are not in a hurry. If your dog is excited - just breathe to direct your dog to calm. Don’t speak, don’t obsess about your dog’s state, don’t argue or plead - just breathe and clear your thoughts. Don’t open the door until your dog is calm. Dogs understand how to pressure and dogs are persist - if you want calm you have to work for it -  direct from a place of pure logic.

When your dog is calm, place your hand on the crate door handle - but don’t open the door yet.  If your dog’s excited state is initiate or further heightened when you reach for a touch the door handle, take your hand off of the door handle. Once again help your dog calm. When your dog is calm your hand can go back to the handle.

Open the door a little - if your dog escalates to excitement gently close the door and start again. When your dog calms open the door slightly - don’t ‘guard’ the opening. If you feel the ‘need’ to guard you are inviting your dog to compete with you for the opening. Don’t create a competition.

Just because you open the door does not mean that your dog should push his/her way out through the door. Indicate to your dog to sit. Do not allow him/her to ‘bolt’ out of the crate.

Stand in the space created by the open crate door - occupy the space with a comfortable grounded stance - one leg slightly in front of the other. When your dog is calm, release the space by moving to one side of the open door and then use your hand to draw his eyes up to you and then use a hand gesture to indicate that he/she can now step out of the crate. Then cue him/her to calm once more by taking a deep breath as he/she exists the crate.

Time to clean my face and wake up!

Don’t Wind Your Dog Up
When you come home don’t create an environment of high energy, intense excitement - just be normal. Do you want your dog to jump all over you, whine and bark, be anxious when you leave and arrive? Learn how to great your dog with selfless love by greeting in silence.

Dogs With High-Level Anxiety
Determination, presence of mind and patience is required to affect change. Work on your own self-control, and self awareness first. Follow the steps above and do not allow emotion - yours or your dog’s to rule. Staying grounded takes practice - it is not reasonable to expect your dog to be grounded and calm when you are not.

Don’t Allow Your Dog to ‘Own’ His/Her Crate
It is important to teach your dog that that he/she does not own his/her crate. The crate is a ‘common’ space - a space that is not singularly owned - it is a shared space.

I have worked with dogs that were allowed to ‘own’ and guard his/her crate to the point of extreme aggressive-reactivity - should anyone (human, dog, cat) approach the crate. It takes skill and knowledge to reverse this behaviour and while I can do so, it is better to avoid creating the situation in the first place.Save yourself and your dog the distress...

Don’t use a crate as a place of ‘punishment, don’t use the crate in anger. Doing so creates many issues including aggressive reactivity.

Not For Punishment
A crate should NEVER be used as a means to ‘punish’ a dog. In-fact when working with your dog you should never seek to punish. Dogs do not require punishment. Punishment simply serves to destabilize a dog. Punishment creates insecurity, fear, the need to react defensively, to shut down - psychological damage which can also result in physical damage. A dog requires fair, logical, respectful mentoring.

Make Sure the Crate is the Right Size for your Dog
Your dog should be able to comfortably stand up and turn around in his /her crate.

Location Matters
Never place a crate in a location that:
  • Gets overly warm
  • Where there is a cold draft
  • Where the air quality is poor
  • Where lighting is harsh
Should You Cover the Crate?
Covering the crate can lead to expectations that are not met and the end result can be increased anxiety for you and your dog. Some people, trainers and behaviorists included believe that by covering the crate they will moderate or even solve a dog’s crate-anxiety. Covering the crate may simply serve to reduce air circulation and therefore reduce air quality. When I work with a client whose dog is suffering from crate-anxiety and the crate is covered, one of the first things I do is remove the cover. Then I teach the client how to resolve the root cause of the anxiety.

A Comfortable Place
The dogs in my own pack lie in their crates when they feel like it. They are allowed to lie down wherever they like in my house – including on couches. Sometimes they prefer a crate. No one dog in my pack owns a crate – they all share the spaces in the house including crates. Why do they choose the crate? The crate is a space of comfort and calm and all of the crates in my house are comfy – they are lined with dog beds and some have pillows too.

Even dogs who are capable of escaping any crate – like my dog Sarah (German Shepherd X Husky) will accept being in a crate when coached and mentored the right way. Sarah is a wily, intelligent and resourceful canine who spent the better part of her first year as a stray – wiliness meant survival. Sarah can open any type of crate door handle/lock and escape at will - however if I put her in a crate she will stay in it. My control over Sarah is not based on physical force - no amount of physical restraint can stop a determined dog from attempting to and escaping from a crate, room etc. My control over Sarah and my client’s dogs is based on self-restraint, self-awareness, self-discipline, respectful and logical communication - true leadership.

I work with dogs that have extreme separation anxiety - including cases where a dog has suffered severe injury while chewing through and escaping from for his/her crate.

Hate The Crate?
Many people think that their dog’s reason for extreme behaviour is that he/she ‘hates’ his/her crate.

Not so.

In the majority of cases it is the human that:
  • Accidentally enables an existing condition of insecurity (i.e. in the case of an adopted dog), or;
  • Creates the insecurity in the first place. Returning the situation back to normal requires that all aspects of the situation be addressed - human and canine.
Is Crating Cruel?
A crate can be a place of great cruelty...
  • A dog should not live his/her life in a crate
  • A crate, as noted further above should not be used to punish a dog, dogs should not be punished - dogs need coaching and mentoring - not punishment.
A crate can be a place of comfort, support...
  • A crate can be an amazing tool to help a dog learn to transition from a state of insecurity to a state of normal, grounded, confidence. 
  • A crate can be a place to help the healing process - after physical trauma or surgery
 A place of positive support or negativity - it all depends on the human.

Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
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How to Potty Train Your Puppy or Dog

When it comes to potty training your puppy or dog the best approach is a holistic approach that considers all supporting elements...

Get a Routine In-Place to Support Potty Training Your Puppy or Dog

Your puppy's or dog's potting training  routine should look similar to this -
Potty breaks times are...
  • First thing in the morning
  • After every meal , and/or
  • After drinking substantial amounts of water
  • After playtime
  • Mid-day
  • Early evening
  • Before bedtime
Bedtime - Don’t set Puppy up for Failure
  • Puppy needs time for his/her bladder to grow so if you are allowing puppy to drink water an hour or less before bedtime Puppy may not be able to make it through the night
  • Restrict water consumption an hour before bedtime
  • By doing so you help set your puppy or dog up for potty training success, not failure
After-Meal Routine
  • After your puppy or dog eats let him/her outside for a potty training break
  • And again 15 minutes after that if he/she did not seem to eliminate the first time
  • Offer the next ‘potty break’ a half hour to an hour after that
  • Over time elongate this to two or three hours
Be Efficient Rather than Rushed and Anxious
Set a good example...
  • If you feel anxious around potty time your dog will acquire the anxiety you are projecting
  • You want potty time to be a normal activity not an abnormal one
  • Move efficiently, matter-of-factly - normally to the door rather than anxiously and in a rush
  • Remember dogs learn by example just as people do, dogs acquire stress and anxiety just as people do
Don’t Punish Your Dog for having a Potty Training  'Accident'
If your dog has an ‘accident’ in the house never punish your dog. Doing so can lead to stress and anxiety for your dog - which will ultimately lead to additional stress for you. You don’t want your dog to develop anxiety around eliminating as doing so can lead to an escalation of behaviour issues and can also cause health issues now and later on in life.

If Your Dog has an Accident in the House
Understand that the more fuss you make, the more stressful the situation will get, instead…
  • Take a big breath - let the tension go - normalize the situation put a structure in-place to move through the situation - don’t let your emotions take over
  • Lead , direct, show your puppy or dog out of the space - preferably to take him/her outside - assuming you have a fenced in area, or your dog knows to stay on your property
  • Allow your puppy or dog to stay out while you go back in the house to clean-up their stool or pee
  • If you are dealing with a puppy or a rescue dog that is not housebroken take the poop you have just picked up outside
  • Place the poop in the area where you want your puppy or dog to use as his/her ‘potty’ area
  • Let your puppy or dog sniff the poop (not eat it!)
  • Provided your pup or dog does not indulge in Coprophagia you can leave the relocated stool in the designated potty area for a few hours or a day
If Your Dog Goes Out - Comes In and Eliminates in the House 
If your dog goes outside - sniffs about, gets distracted, does not eliminate (pee or poop), then proceeds to come back in the house and eliminate - there are multiple possible causes, here are a few examples:
You May Have Let Your Dog or Puppy In Too Soon
If your puppy or dog seems to get distracted when he/she is outside and forgets to do what you have let him/her out to do (eliminate) just relax and leave your pup or dog out for a longer period of time. If your dog or puppy has a habit of escalating to high levels of excitement or fixation he/she may forget to eliminate.

Prevent Unwanted Excitement and Distraction
Provide structure - make your dog or pup work to go outside
  • Don’t just open the door and allow your dog or pup to run out and do not allow your dog or pup to press his/her self up against the door
  • Get his/her attention first, make sure that he/she is calmly sitting or standing away from the door, then make sure he/she is attentive - looking at your eyes, hold the look then indicate to your dog or pup that he/she can go out the door
  • You have to normalize the use of the outdoor space in your own mind before your dog can do so.
  • If you are anticipating that he/she will not use the outdoors you are creating an altered state of normal around the situation
  • If you are not comfortable your dog won’t be either - remember dogs are incredibly insightful when it comes to reading what you are really feeling and communicating
  • This means that your dog will literally and logically tune-in what you are emoting
If you want your dog to normalize the natural act of eliminating outside support him/her by normalizing the situation

Freedom - is Good, or Is It?
It's not if you have not taught your puppy how to handle the freedom. Don't give a young puppy the run of the house when you don't have time to supervise and guide puppy.

Who Decides What - Who Runs the House?
If your dog is ‘house trained’ but ‘likes’ to pee or poop in the house you have a bigger issue to deal with - your dog runs your household - not you. To resolve this issue you need to provide leadership to your dog in all areas of daily life. Once you do so properly your dog will stop eliminating in your home.

If your dog does long walking piddles and pees in your home, pees on the floor when excited or nervous your dog is simply insecure and needs the opportunity to have the support required to become a more confident canine. You need to learn how to better understand, communicate, and incorporate structure and leadership for your dog.
My Pit Bull x Boxer Robbie is a good example - Robbie had been abused prior to being surrendered to me. Robbie was aggressive-reactive and had zero confidence. He would do ‘walking pees’ in the house - typically a trail of urine ten to 15 feet in length. As I worked with Robbie and built his confidence the ‘walking pees’ became a thing of the past. You can read about Robbie here.

Become a Conscious Observer
A lot of puppies and dogs will tell their human ‘I need to go out’ but if you have not learned to consciously observe your dog you will not see the ‘ask’. Learning to see beyond casual assumptions is an important part of growing with your dog. Dogs are amazing communicators but if you fall for societal beliefs that say otherwise you will miss many opportunities to understand and respond effectively to your dog.
A puppy or dog with heightened sensitivity can become flooded by distractions. A puppy or dog that is experiencing stress and anxiety may either have ‘accidents’ or avoid going potty at times. Learning to turn heightened sensitivity into an advantage rather than a deficit is important for the short and long term health and happiness of your dog. Building grounded confidence in your puppy or dog by providing leadership is essential to eliminate stress and anxiety. You need to learn to communicate effectively and establish a good threshold of true patience within yourself.  It is important to understand the common factors that influence dog behaviour so you can avoid pitfalls and leverage your influence the right way.

Diet Matters
Make sure you are feeding your puppy or dog a truly appropriate diet. In regards to the issue of potty training a puppy you want to support ongoing development and optimal function of the brain, digestive and eliminatory system. Make sure your puppy is on a truly nutritionally complete and appropriate diet. If you are just feeding you puppy processed dry dog food your puppy's diet is not nutritionally complete.

Size Matters
Small dogs develop at a slower pace than large breed dogs. This means that a small dog’s bladder will take longer to grow than a large-breed dog’s bladder. Be patient and persistent but always be fair and remember that a puppy’s bladder needs time to fully develop.

And that is the scoop on the basics of potty training addressed from a holistic point of view.

Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
  • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
  • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.