Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Kennel Games during meal time

Since getting the new Kennel for Kobi, feedings have been our training times with the kennel.

For the first couple of days we would just toss handfuls of his meals into the back of the kennel just to get his head and eventually all four feet inside.
Once he was able to get all his feet inside we then worked on getting him to turn around in the kennel and feeding him towards the front of the kennel while his whole body was inside.
 The next day we worked on getting him to lie down in the kennel and would only get food if he was lying down in the kennel.
The next day we worked on having him "Go to his Kennel", turn around and lie down before he would get food and to be able to do this repeatedly.
We focused on getting him in and lying down for a couple of days to make sure he was comfortable in the kennel before progressing to some more "difficult" kennel games.

These games would be great for a puppy as well to make sure that they really love their kennel. We still don't have the door on the kennel and won't be adding it until Kobi is able to stay in the kennel for extended periods of time without it. The point of this is that the door shouldn't make him feel trapped in the kennel, the door will become more of a security measure to ensure he doesn't leave the kennel when I'm not looking to reinforce that he is only allowed to exit the kennel when given his release cue, which for us is  "release".

Kennel Game #1

Once they are getting comfortable going into the kennel and laying down, start extending the period of time between treats. Make sure that your dog is successful, try to avoid having them get up and exit before they are released. To avoid that, start with very short periods of time, just a few seconds, and reward often as well as release them often. Once they start to get the idea that staying in the kennel gets them treats, start leaving the room, sit on the couch, run around, do jumping jacks, make your cat walk by, anything! to start generalizing having them staying in the kennel. This is taught the same as with a stay, the only difference being they can move and change positions in the kennel, so long as they don't leave it. Be sure to decrease your expectations as you increase the difficulty. (We're still at the leave for just a couple seconds phase but this is how I trained Kobi's stay which is pretty solid).

Kennel Game #2

This game can be taught first if your dog doesn't have a great stay or has never been taught a release cue. Kobi knows what "release" means so he only needed a small amount of work to generalize the release cue to the kennel as well. You can use a new release cue for the kennel or the same one you already use. To teach them that they are only allowed out when released, have them enter into the kennel and say your cue word before they exit the kennel. At first it's okay if they walk straight out, so long as you say your cue word before they exit. After a few times get them to wait a few seconds before giving your cue. If they try to leave before the cue is given just block the doorway so that they must stay inside. They can be in any position when the cue is given so long as they are still inside the kennel. If they are for whatever reason reluctant to leave the kennel, try to encourage them out. If you find you need to give a lot of encouragement to get them out or they just aren't moving, attach a leash to their collar and give a light tug to get them to come out when the cue is given. This will prevent your dog from rushing the kennel door when your go to release them. As mentioned before the door should only be added security rather then the thing containing them.

Kennel Game # 3

Building drive/ excitement about the kennel. This one is particularly important for us where Kobi is still a little less then thrilled about the kennel. In agility this is called "Push Back and Jam". Get your dog lined up in front of the kennel, standing or sitting. Show them the treats you have in your hand (his kibble) and toss them to the back of the kennel (I find it helps if it hits the back wall so they can hear it). Push lightly on their chest and when they are looking straight into the kennel, release them in a very excited voice and watch them rush straight in! Just don't forget to use your release cue when they exit the kennel afterwards.

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