I’m a big fan of crate training, but not for all dogs. That link takes you to a long page I wrote about crate training, how to do it, and when not to. But I don’t talk about clicker training there. So as I’ve been reading Clickertraining: the 4 Secrets of Becoming a Supertrainer recently, I noticed that they have a chapter on crate training. It’s near the end of the ebook, and so I thought it might draw on clicker methods that would be pretty advanced. It doesn’t really though.
I was very pleased to see that Morten and Cecilie, the authors of the ebook, take the same view I do that crate training is not something to be rushed!
They point out – as I could have said myself – that “most dogs like their creates if they’ve just been allowed time to gradually grow accustomed to them.” It’s when people force their young puppies, or dogs of any age for that matter, into a crate and lock them in that dogs become resistant to ever using a crate.
So how do they suggest you use a clicker for crate training? By using targeting. Never heard of it, or not sure what it is? It’s very simple, the third thing they teach you to do in Clickertraining. In a nutshell, targeting is getting your dog to touch a target stick, or post-it note, or whatever, by clicking when he touches it and then giving him a treat. As the dog gets the point, you can move the stick around and he’ll think it’s a great game.
Here’s one example of how easy targeting can be to teach: I did one session several years ago with my LarryDog, the dog in the logo at the top of this page. I was clicking and treating, and using a ruler in my right hand as my stick. Then something came up at the library where I worked and I had to put in some extra hours. I didn’t get around to doing any more dog training for quite a while, but LarryDog thought the target “game” (as he saw it) was so much fun that he started following my right hand just in case I would give him a treat. So I did sometimes. To this day, with no more planned training on my part, LarryDog follows my hand sometimes!
Bit I digress. Back to the crate training process. Well, once you have a target-trained dog, it’s just a matter of putting the target just outside the crate and clicking and treating. Next, you go a bit inside the crate… and click and treat. You get the picture. Before long, the dog is entirely in the crate. And then it’s not hard to extend the time, gradually, with attention on how long the dog seems content inside.
To find out more about clicker training from this useful, enjoyable, and comprehensive ebook, click on the book to see its website. I’m learning something from just about every page.