|© C Boyko|
Don't Bother Me. I'm Comfortable!
Teaching a cue for going to his crate makes this activity even more special. It gives you the opportunity to reward the behavior you have requested, while Fido does the job of placing himself there, rather than you.
Teach your command for going to the crate (we use "Go Nite-Nite") by offering the command as Fido enters the crate. Praise and offer a treat as a regular part of this exercise. If you have a pup with a bit of separation anxiety, here's a tip for dealing with the 10 seconds while you depart:
- Use very small training treats. Give Fido one for entering his crate and then ask him to "Down".
- While he waits, place several of the small training treats in hiding spaces around the inside of his crate, under his bed, pushed under a blanket (Oliver loves his PetStages Mini Nesting Mat for rooting in, and it is perfect for hiding treats) or into corners of his bedding. This will occupy him while you make your departure.
- By the time he has located and eaten each hidden treat, you are gone and Fido is satisfied with his successful mental activity. Rest will often follow.
- If you plan to be away for several hours, leaving a frozen Kong can be a good time-passer for your dog. I highly recommend you observe his behavior with a Kong before using this "busy box" activity while gone. Know your dog's chewing behavior and be as certain as possible that he is safely occupied. Kongs can be filled with a variety of tasty treats in layers, to keep the mental activity going and as much fun as possible: plain yogurt, grated cheese, kibble, apples (peeled), canned dog food, fat free cottage cheese, mashed sweet potatoes, leftover bite-sized pieces of boned meat (cleaned of fat), bananas, shredded carrots, even a dab of peanut better, etc.
- When you return, open the crate door when your pup is quiet and calm. Praise for this behavior and treat again when you get it. Have an "I'm home!" party (a ritual of belly rubs or a fun game that you and fido enjoy together) to celebrate. This habit will grow and with time, Fido will bolt to his crate, just as Oliver does. This will become an enjoyable activity for him, with many rewards, most notably, his and your home's safety.