Just got a comment from Corrie asking how to control her dogs when they come out of their crates. She’s dealing with two happy cockers but this can be a challenge for anyone. The very first thing I think about is how to fix this problem away from the problem.
In this case, her dogs are so excited to be out of the crate that they become unmanageable. Unmanageable is a bad time to attempt to teach. It’s a time where everyone gets frustrated.
So job #1 is to create habits away from the situation that will then help in the situation. In other words: fix the problem away from the problem. When I have those habits, then I use them to resolve the problem but before then you are a carpenter trying to build something with no tools. Go get some tools then build!
Tool #1: Food Focus
Being able to focus your dog on food when they are excited can help a lot. Try hand feeding the dogs most or all of their meals for calm behavior and get some truly tempting treats that you use only in this training.
Tool #2: Sell “Sit is It“*
Make “Sit” the answer to all life’s problems. Want a toy? Sit. What the door to open? Sit. What your meals, my attention, a cookie? Sit, Sit and guess what? Sit!
Tool #3: Teach “Simple Sit” *
“Simple Sit” teaches your dog that light upward pressure on a flat collar means to sit. You must have a way to physically cue them to sit when they are out of your mental control otherwise you are left either repeating yourself (not helpful), giving up (really not helpful) or getting a better/bigger treat (really not helpful).
Now that you have some tools you can use them to build better behavior. Here’s how: When your dog has been out of the crate and is relatively calm that is the time to practice. Put her in crate, close the door, open crate door and, when she steps out, use Tool #2 (have her sit) followed by Tool #1 (feed) and your warm praise with Tool #3 (simple sit) ready to go if #2 doesn’t work.
Great! Now, put your dog back into the crate, repeat. Do this 8-10 times a session (which will take you under 2 minutes once you both understand the new routine) and in less than a week you can go from chaos to calm.
For more dog training tips you can use, click here.
My Smart Puppy: Fun, Effective, and Easy Puppy Training (Book & 60min DVD)
Both “Sit is It” and “Simple Sit” are taught in My Smart Puppy.