Friday, May 1, 2009

Let the Crate Games begin!

I'm still working on trying to read Page's play moods in the house. When she's really frantic jumping and biting at the other dogs, it usually means she's tired. However, today she was wild, and she'd just gotten up from a post-woods walk nap. 

Since she was so wild, I put everything aside (who needs to pay bills anyway), and we went to the building to train. Page got a long lesson in Crate Games. I wondered how this session would go. I should have done it a week ago, but because I figured it would take me over an hour I kept putting it off. 

Page's litter has across the board been very vocal. They get it honestly from both Bizzy and Goose. While many of her littermates are driving their owners batty with their noise, my multi-day drive home convinced Page that screaming in her crate wasn't going to accomplish much.In the car, she settles right down without a peep to sleep or play in her crate.

That of course hasn't prevented her from testing things now that we're at home. I've made it a fast rule not to enter a room where she's crated when she's screaming. At night, she settles quickly and rarely protests. I get the most noise as I'm finishing my shower or if I put her in her crate while I'm eating.

For Page's first lesson in crate games, I used small pieces of turkey giblets left over from Thanksgiving to teach her to sit when the crate door latch was rattled. Page loved the treats and quickly learned to sit. However, we had to work through her control when I started the "Are you a gambler?" phase of adding in distractions with the door opening. 

Before I started Crate Games, if Page jumps at or paws the crate door, she's not allowed out. By simply not opening the door and being consistent, I've taught her not to rush the door. However, including a sit and a stay while the door was opening was a challenge for Page. She had several times when the door was closed in her face and she didn't get those yummy treats because she got up from her sit. But each time this happened, I could see the little wheels turning in her head to figure it out. 

Finally, she controlled her impulse to get up when the crate door opened. Bless her, she even started to come up from the sit and immediately planted her butt firmly on the ground again! It was as if she was saying, "HANG ON! I GOT IT!" From this point, she hung onto that sit and flew through the distractions of putting on her leash. And just like the dogs in the DVDs, she didn't want to come out of the crate at first when we moved to that phase. Once she did come out, she explored both sides of the crate, then got right back in to a jackpot! Boy did she like that!

Once I released her, it was back to the house. This time, she played quietly with her toys and bones and then quickly fell asleep for a quick after "workout" nap. When it came time for her dinner, Page sat in her crate for the door to open and her food dish to come in. After dinner, she remembered to sit quietly for me to reach for the door, but she'd pop out of her sit when I opened the door. It's that control issue again! I shut the door and let her figure it out. On the third try, she started to come up and then you could see her think, "DARN IT! I have to SIT!" and she settled back into her sit. 

Page is such a smart girl, and she works really hard to get what I'm asking of her. She's a real joy to train.


Kathy said...

If you have time, make a short video of some of your Crate Games work.

It's going to be so much fun to transfer her drive & control to agility!

tailsofgold said...

Yes I'd love to see some of it too!

Deb said...

Ok, ladies. We'll get some tape!