Caysun's learning to love the crate. It's important for any dog to accept crating, but especially important for a service pup in training. When Caysun returns to Service Dogs of Virginia, she'll need to be crated frequently while the other service dogs in training are rotated in to their training sessions. She'll also need to be crated after she's spayed or if she's injured and the vet orders crate rest.
Here's how I start the "Crate Love" process:
- All meals are fed to Caysun in the crate. That means that at least three times a day, good things are associated with that area.
- When it's time for a nap, I put Caysun and a Kong filled with a little peanut butter in the crate. As she's licking the peanut butter out (a pleasant experience), she usually falls asleep (another pleasant experience for her).
- When I have a treat for her, I deliver it into the crate.
- I move the crate from room to room, so there's no "right" spot for the crate to be. The crate is good no matter what room, what view, what surroundings. The crate is what makes it "right" to be there.
Just today, 4 days into the "Crate Love" program, she dragged a toy into her crate to play with it. Sweet success! I want Caysun to think of her crate as her space, a spot where she can relax, where good things always happen.
I haven't yet put crating on cue. I'll work on that after I've developed Crate Love a bit more. I can put the behavior on cue any time, but it's crucial that I have good feelings associated with crating first.
As I type, she's fast asleep in the crate, dreaming happy puppy dreams…