In Draper, Utah there is a dog in a crate. Is it a sanctuary or a prison sentence? How do you view it? How are you using this tool and what objective are you trying to achieve? At any age, your dog can learn to love their crate or any form of containment!
Let's discuss why using a containment strategy for your dog is so valuable and how to develop a successful strategy!
Benefits to Containment:
** Safety– dog doesn't chew and swallow harmful things like electrical cords, socks, etc or find themselves in other dangerous circumstances while your dog is unsupervised.
** Reduce bad behavior– if dog is having potty problems, is chewing on furniture, jumps on guests, or similar problem behaviors, containment keeps them from making these bad choices until they are better equipped to make positive choices on their own.
** Develops the ability to self-soothe– for our training style, this is the most beneficial reason to develop and practice a containment strategy. Containment reduces the choices your dog has, therefore giving them a greater chance of picking a behavior you prefer. As you properly reward the behaviors you like as outlined below, you will develop your dog's ability to relax and stay calm in a variety of environments. This is not only a dream for the owner, but extremely healthy for the dog to have this type of mental control.
Now that we've given you some reasons why containment is a valuable opportunity for your dog, you as the owner must understand the proper use.
**First, and of highest importance, is your attitude about using containment. If you view containment as a prison sentence, then you need to change to a more optimistic perspective about the benefits. Containment is a powerful tool to allows you to support your dog's emotional needs and help teach a life-long skill of mental control and relaxation.
**Select a containment environment and method in which your dog is initially most comfortable . Is your dog most comfortable in a crate or tethered (to tether your dog, attach a leash to their collar or harness, then hook the other end of the leash to an immovable object). Crating your dog is more confining, which can create a greater level of stress because there is very little freedom or it can provide added security because there are fewer “threats” while in a crate. Also, if the environment where the dog is contained is overstimulating, it will be very difficult for the dog to show signs of improvement. Start your dog off with the right method and in an environment with as low of distraction level as possible.
** Reinforcing or rewarding greater levels of relaxation – this is the training aspect of your containment strategy. Using high value food such as healthy treats, cheese, or meat and begin rewarding your dog for any behavior that is calmer or quieter than the moment before. We aren't waiting for completely calm or completely quiet, just a slight improvement. Acknowledging these small milestones of improvement is critical to your dog learning. Don't miss the tiny levels of improvement waiting for a grand change in behavior.
NOTE: while containment is an extremely beneficial tool, it is not a starting place for all dogs. Should you have a dog with extreme anxiety, you will need to work up to containment. A customized behavior therapy program can be developed that includes several steps of preparation work prior to including a containment strategy as part of a long-term plan for better mental wellness.
Teaching a dog to self-soothe is multi-faceted and relaxation comes in many different forms. Full House Dog Training is focused on creating emotional wellness for your dog, therefore allowing him to have clarity on choices that bring him the rewards he desires. To learn more about developing additional crate training skills and training programs to support your dog's emotional wellness, view our website at www.fullhousedogtraining.com or contact us at 801.244.0303.