Dog Training Tips: Crate Training
ADHDog can be… destructive, especially when it’s rainy or otherwise gross outside, and he won’t go outside because there are worms on the sidewalk and worms are scary for him. Because he has more energy than a toddler who was just given a soda. Admire our front page and you can glimpse the beautiful mess he made out of an empty box of Girl Scout Cookies, complete with sorry-not-sorry expression. It may be our fault – we’ve developed a game for him where we put a delicious, stinky snack (like his liver treats, or a few pieces of hotdog) in a box, then tape that box up in another box, and nest that box in a third box, and then wedge it in a corner somewhere for him to find. Unfortunately, this game – which he loves, and really wears him out mentally – has introduced him to the idea that food can sometimes be found inside of things, and because we have a doorless pantry, one thing led to another, and he helped himself to some Fig Newtons and a fruit cup.
So now he’s either in the bedroom when we’re not home, or in his crate.
I had no idea about crate training when we got the pup – he was our first dog, and we were seduced by his concerned forehead wrinkles and Harry Potter house elf ears, and so we hadn’t done any real research on training or keeping a young, energetic mutt. We bought him a crate, because it seemed like a thing that dog owners had (and because we’d be driving 14 hours the next day with him—poor guy probably thought he was being abducted by aliens). But he was having none of it. Either he’d never been in a crate before, or it hadn’t been a pleasant experience when he had.
We started on crate games. A few days ago I posted about desensitizing ADHDog to the terror that was the bathtub. We used a similar approach getting him used to his crate. Leaving special high-value treats in the crate randomly for the dog to find is a great way to get them excited to go inside. We also played games where we’d ask him to go in, close the door, and immediately open it again, so that he began to learn that he wouldn’t be locked in and left alone every time he went inside. We also began to feed him his meals inside the crate, and to play interactive games, like tug, where he had to stand inside the crate to get attention paid to him. These two documents were invaluable resources for us: https://apdt.com/docs/resources/crate-training.pdf, http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/332 when we were training our pup, and I’m happy to share them with you. Because crate training, like “No,” is one of those things that can keep your dog safe – away from dangerous foods like chocolate, chewing gum, or boxes of raisins, household goods (keep those toenail gouges off of your coffee table, and your dog’s teeth away from electrical wires). It also gives your dog a place to go when he (or she) wants to relax, to not be bothered.
Needless to say, ADHDog is a pretty good fan of his crate now. Though he’d still prefer to sleep with us at night when he gets the chance (and sneak an opportunity to lick Husband’s ankles while he’s curled up at the foot of the bed), he’ll hang out in there when he’s feeling grumpy, or thinks we’re about to head out for the day. Now if I could finally figure out what sorts of subtle signs I give off that I’m about to go to work that he’s picking up on that tells him to go in there, I’d be set.