Is Crate Training Necessary?

Is Crate Training Necessary?

Crate training is a controversial topic among dog parents, with some believing it to be essential for their pet’s safety and well-being, while others see it as cruel and unnecessary. So, is crate training necessary? Let’s discuss it. 

What is crate training?

Crate training involves using a crate or confined area as a safe and secure place for a dog to rest, sleep, and eat. The crate should be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. The aim is to teach the dog to view the crate as their den.

 Dogs are den animals so it is natural to them to relax and rest in a reduced space. I can see how from a human perspective crate training can be viewed as un- natural, but it’s really not. What’s un natural to them is to be left alone, since they are pack-social oriented animals. So we need to teach them gradually and slowly. Crate training sometimes can help in this process. Another way of looking at it is to think of bears. Bears hibernate for months at a time in a very small area. Other animals might do similar things that we humans might view as unbearable or cruel, but that’s their nature. 

Is crate training necessary?

Whether or not crate training is necessary depends your situation and on your dog. For example, a dog that spends a lot of time alone in the house may benefit from having a safe and secure place to rest, while a dog that is never left alone may not need a crate. Note that dogs that are never left alone can develop separation anxiety. Which is not a good problem to have. Some dogs might have develop a fearful/anxious association with the crate. In this case the crate might not be the best option. 

However crate training can make the process of potty training much faster and easier, since it’s easier to avoid accidents without having to constantly supervise your puppy. 

In some cases, crate training may be essential for a dog’s safety and well-being. For example, if a dog is destructive when left alone, they may be at risk of harming themselves or damaging the home. A crate can provide a safe and secure environment while preventing destructive behavior.

Additionally, some dogs may benefit from a crate during travel or when staying in a boarding facility. Being comfortable in a crate can reduce stress and anxiety in unfamiliar situations.

Why do people crate train their dogs?

There are several reasons to crate train your dog. These include:

  1. Potty training.The crate can be very helpful to teach your dog two things: a. to avoid 90% of accidents without constant supervision and b. to hold the bladder.  Dogs instinctively avoid soiling their sleeping area, so using a crate can help setting up a schedule where accidents can be easily avoided. 
  2. Safety: A crate can keep a dog safe from potential hazards, such as electrical cords, toxic substances, or other pets in the home.
  3. Housetraining: A crate can keep your house safe from destructive behaviors. Puppies do not know the difference between a expensive furniture or objects and chew toys. 
  4. Travel: A crate can be a convenient and safe way to transport a dog. Sometimes it’s actually mandatory. if your dog is not crate trained your dog will have a hard time traveling in a crate or carrier. 
  5. Separation anxiety: For some dogs, a crate can provide a sense of security and comfort when left alone.
  6. Vet visits or grooming. If your dog gets sick and needs to stay over night, most likely the vet is going to use a crate. Groomers very often use crates while the dogs wait for their owners to pick them up.

Havng said this, crate training should never be used as a punishment or as a way to confine a dog for extended periods. Dogs are social animals and need interaction and exercise to stay healthy and happy.

How to crate train a dog?

If you decide to crate train your dog, it’s essential to do so in a positive and gentle way. Here are some tips:

  1. Introduce the crate gradually: Start by leaving the crate door open and placing treats or toys inside to encourage your dog to explore.
  2. Make the crate comfortable: Add a soft bed or blanket to make the crate inviting.
  3. Use positive reinforcement: Reward your dog with treats and praise when they enter the crate voluntarily.
  4. Start with short periods: Initially, leave your dog in the crate for short periods while you’re at home, gradually increasing the time as they become comfortable.
  5. Never force your dog into the crate: If your dog seems reluctant to enter the crate, don’t force them. Instead, try using treats or toys to encourage them.

In summary, crate training can be beneficial for some dogs in certain situations. However, it’s not necessary for every dog, and it’s crucial to use a mindful approach when introducing a crate. Remember, a crate should be a safe and secure place for your dog, not a form of punishment or confinement.

   © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved July 2023

     

     

    Service Dog Training.

    Service Dog Training.

    Service dogs play a crucial role in the lives of individuals with disabilities, providing assistance with a wide range of tasks and helping to increase independence and quality of life. Training a service dog requires a significant time and commitment, but the rewards of having a well-trained service dog can be immeasurable. In this post, I’ll take a look at the process of training a service dog, including what’s involved, how to get started, and what to expect along the way.

    First and foremost, it’s important to understand that service dogs are not pets. They are highly trained working animals that are specifically trained to assist individuals with disabilities. This means that the training process is much more intense and focused than it is for a pet dog. It also important to note that service dog might not be allowed to do certain things that pet dogs would normally do. 

    To begin the process of training a service dog, you’ll need to find a reputable service dog training program. There are many programs available, and it’s important to do your research to find one that is accredited and has a good track record. Some things to consider when choosing a program include the length of the program, the type of training provided, and the experience and expertise of the trainers.

    Once you’ve chosen a program, the next step is to prepare your dog for training. This typically involves providing basic obedience training and socialization, as well as working on any specific skills or behaviors that your dog will need to perform as a service dog. This may include tasks like assisting with mobility, retrieving items, or providing emotional support.

    Once your dog is ready to begin formal service dog training, the program will typically involve a combination of in-home and group training sessions. In these sessions, your dog will learn to perform a variety of tasks and behaviors that are specific to your needs as an individual with a disability. This may include things like helping you navigate through crowded areas, retrieving items, or providing emotional support during times of stress.

    Throughout the training process, it’s important to be patient and consistent with your dog. Training a service dog requires a significant time and commitment, but the rewards of having a well-trained service dog can be immeasurable. With the right training and support, your service dog can become a valuable and integral part of your daily life, helping you to live with greater independence and freedom.

       © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved July 2023

       

       

      Crate vs. Pen: The Pros and Cons of Puppy Confinement Options 

      Crate vs. Pen: The Pros and Cons of Puppy Confinement Options 

        Welcoming a new puppy comes with some challenges, such as ensuring a safe and secure place when you’re not around especially when it comes to managing their behavior and potty training. One common question new puppy owners often face is whether to use a crate or a pen for confinement. Both options have their pros and cons, and it’s essential to understand them to make an informed decision that suits your puppy’s needs and your lifestyle. You  can use both, but it’s good to know the differences.

      Crate Confinement:

      A crate is a small, enclosed space that serves as a den for your puppy. It can be made of plastic, metal, or fabric, and typically has a door that can be closed. Here are some pros and cons of using a crate for puppy confinement:

      Pros:

          1. Creates a Safe Space: A crate provides a secure and cozy space for your puppy to rest and feel safe. It mimics the den-like environment that puppies naturally seek in the wild, and it can help them feel secure and calm.

          2. Aids in Potty Training: Dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area, and a crate can be a valuable tool for potty training. When properly used, it can help teach your puppy to hold their bladder and bowel movements, and establish a routine for outdoor elimination.

          3. Prevents Destructive Behavior: Puppies are notorious for getting into trouble when left unsupervised. Using a crate can prevent them from chewing on furniture, shoes, or other household items, and keep them safe from potential hazards.

          4. Facilitates Travel: Crates are also useful for traveling with your puppy. They provide a secure and familiar space for your puppy in unfamiliar surroundings, and can be used in cars or on airplanes.

      Cons:

          1. Limitation on Movement: One of the main drawbacks of using a crate is that it restricts your puppy’s movement. Puppies need regular exercise and playtime to develop their muscles, coordination, and social skills. Spending excessive time in a crate can lead to boredom and restlessness.

          2. Potential for Anxiety: Some puppies may develop crate anxiety if they are confined for too long periods or have had negative experiences with crates in the past. This can result in whining, barking, or destructive behavior, and may require additional training and desensitization.

      Pen Confinement:

      A pen, also known as an exercise pen or playpen, is a larger enclosed area that allows your puppy more space to move around compared to a crate. It can be made of metal or plastic, and usually has an open top. Here are some pros and cons of using a pen for puppy confinement:

      Pros:

          1. More Space to Move: A pen provides your puppy with more room to move around, play, and explore compared to a crate. This can help fulfill their exercise and mental stimulation needs, and prevent boredom and restlessness.

          2. Flexibility: Pens are more versatile than crates, as they can be configured in different shapes and sizes to suit your space and your puppy’s needs. They can be used indoors or outdoors, and can also be used as a barrier to restrict access to certain areas of your home.

          3. Socialization Opportunities: A pen can be a safe space for your puppy to interact with family members, other pets, or visitors, which can aid in their socialization and help them develop good behavior and manners.

          4. Reduced Risk of Anxiety: Some puppies may feel less confined and anxious in a pen compared to a crate, as they have more freedom to move around and see their surroundings. This can help prevent anxiety-related behaviors.

      Cons:

          1. Less Effective for Potty Training: Unlike a crate, a pen may not be as effective for potty training, as it provides more space available for them to eliminate.

          2. Escapes: Some puppies may be able to climb or jump over the playpen, leading to unsupervised roaming or potential accidents.

          3. Limited Containment: Playpens may not be as effective as crates in preventing destructive chewing or accessing certain areas in your home.

          4. Reduced Security: Puppies with high anxiety or fear may not feel as secure in a playpen, as it does not offer the same level of confinement and den-like atmosphere as a crate.

      Ultimately, the choice between crate and playpen confinement depends on your puppy’s needs, temperament, and your specific circumstances. It’s important to strike a balance between confinement and freedom, providing your puppy with proper socialization, exercise, and mental stimulation throughout the day.

      © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved July 2023

         

         

        Never say NO to your dog?

        Never say NO to your dog?

         Should I ever say No to my dog?

        There’s an advice very often given to never say No to your dog under the mantra : “Never tell your dog don’t do that, instead teach them what to do”

        The problem with this is that your dog never has a clear understanding of what not to do.  And that’s not fair. 

        Another problem is that in order to stop your dog from doing unwanted behaviors, you have to micromanage by constantly reinforcing alternative behaviors in a helicopter parenting style.

        Let me give you an example: If I go to a bank and you teach me 5 different things to do in a bank, but you never tell me that I should not rob it. Well, you can probably keep teaching me 10 other alternate behaviors and skills, but I still don’t really know that I shouldn’t rob a bank. Why wouldn’t you tell me that in first place instead of trying to micromanage every move I do with alternative behaviors?

        Teaching boundaries is the art of teaching your dog not to do things or doing things in a controlled manner out of independent thinking not out of micromanagement. 

        Can I teach boundaries without punishing or harsh corrections?

        You can teach boundaries and say no to your dog in a kind way without hurting your dog or without getting mad at your dog, but the focus should be on providing clarity on the boundary not on the alternative behaviors.

        Teaching boundaries does not mean punishing your dog for doing the wrong things. I don’t use or advocate for those methods. There are ways through cognitive learning and by using basic body language techniques through which you can comunícate boundaries to your dog effectively and in a kind manner. And by the way you don’t need to dominate your dog or use Alpha theories to teach boundaries. For more information about dominance myths read this article: Alpha Dominance Theories. Myth? Or Science? For further scientific proof here is a great article from an actual scientist Mark Bekoff: Dogs Display Dominance: Deniers Offer No Credible Debate.

        We need to have a clear understanding that boundaries are not part of learning methodologies based on Reinforcement. Boundaries are part of social behavior skills based on self control and a clear understanding of what is and what is not acceptable. 

        What are learnt boundaries? 

        A learnt boundary is you going to a bank and not robbing it; or you going to a store and not stealing; or you waiting in a line and not pushing everyone around to get in first.  

        You don’t get rewarded for not doing those things and you should not need to be offered an alternative behavior. You should have a clear understanding to not to do those things. You should also have the self control skills for not doing them.

        Here’s an example with my dog: A boundary is when I put my food on my coffee table and I teach my dog not to eat it even if he is laying down right next to me.

        My dog has a clear understanding of what not to do and he’s perfectly fine with it. He is not stressed because there is no confusion. Not only I’m very clear with boundaries, but I also taught my dog the self control skills needed to let things go.

        A boundary is not telling my dog to go to his place and stay there because I reinforced that behavior one million times. That’s obedience training. These are two very different concepts. Obedience training is about teaching new behaviors not about teaching behavioral skills.

        Why are boundaries so important?

         The lack of behavioral training is a huge problem because there is no clarity, there is no self control skills and involves helicopter parenting. Helicopter parenting kills independent thinking, autonomy and agency on your dog. It’s also exhausting and very time consuming on the humans. 

        Self control is very different than impulse control. 

        When you impose obedience training and helicopter parenting over behavior training with the mantra: “Never tell your dog don’t do that, instead teach them what to do” think what you are really doing. 

        You are basically going through a byzantine labyrinth of alternate behaviors in order to stop your dog from doing unwanted behaviors. This is based on impulse control not on self control. Impulse control is micromanaged . Self control is autonomous thinking. 

        Let’s be clear that when you condition your dog to do an alternative behavior with 1 million repetitions, you’re not giving  him/her a “choice”, which is the magic word used to convince people of these methods.  There is no choice here. Is either you do what i want or I’m gonna repeat this 1 million times and manipulate the environment until you do so. Then I’m going to convince my self that it was your choice. 

        It’s perfectly fine to use this method if your purpose is to teach your dog new skills, tricks or behaviors. I use it all the time and positive reinforcement is the best way to go. The focus here is on learning and reinforcing new behaviors.

        But this method and this mantra is a very inefficient way to teach boundaries. This is because your dog never learns what he or she is not supposed to do. Boundaries and rules are very necessary and needed information in order to adapt to any environment. They are also the best way to have independent thinking and autonomy without having to be micromanaged. 

         

        © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved March 2023

        What is The Difference Between Obedience Training and Behavior Training? 

        What is The Difference Between Obedience Training and Behavior Training? 

         

        There is a big difference between Obedience Training and Behavior Training. These two methods or approaches are usually misunderstood even among some professional dog trainers. I very often see a lot of dog trainers trying to solve behavior problems with obedience ( “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “leave it”, “go to your place”  etc).  Flooding your dog with cues and commands does not change the underlying behaviors that are usually already imprinted or conditioned in the dog.

        But before we dive into the difference of these two approaches and how we can integrate them, I want you to ask this bext question:

         

        Do you want a family dog or a highly trained dog?

         

        Answering this question and having clarity on what you want or need from your dog can safe you a lot of time, headaches, money and what’s more important it can help you give the best life to your dog. 

        Family dogs usually need more Behavior Training (manners and self control), while highly train dogs need more Obedience Training ( Skills, performance and impulse control)

        Your dog can know 100 “cues”, “commands” and “tricks” and yet still have a lot of behavioral issues.  Does this phrase sounds familiar to you? :

        ”My dog is very smart and sweet, but ….”

        This happens because your dog can be very good at obedience (Impulse control) but have no control of his emotional responses or state of mind (Self control). Obedience is about learning skills, behavior is a way of being. Obedience has to do with performance, behavior has to do with social skills and having self control of emotional responses. 

         

        Obedience Training vs Behavior Training.

         

        What’s Obedience Training?

         

        Obedience Training is your capacity as a human to teach your dog to respond to cues or commands. For example If you say “sit” your dog sits down or if you say” go around my legs and go to heel position” your dog will do that as a response of your cue or command. Obedience is based on performance and skillsets : sit, down. stay, heel, bring me etc. Obedience uses motivation, rewards and consequences. Wether the consequence is good (ex a treat) or bad (ex punishment) it’s still based on consequence. 

        In teaching obedience some trainers use positive reinforcement and some trainers use positive reinforcement and punishments. But no matter what method you use your goal is to teach your dog to respond to your cues and to tell your dog what to do. For me in Obedience Training, Positive Reinforcement is king. This method is great to teach your dog to DO things. Ex: sit, stay, go to your place, leave it, bring me the news paper, come when called etc. 

        Positive Reinforcement is very effective because dogs tend to do what’s reinforced with rewards. So if you want to teach your dog to Do something is a no-brainer to use rewards and motivation to do so. In order to have good and fast responses we as trainers need to make it fun and get our dogs excited and motivated. 

        This way they learn fast, they are happy and it’s fun.  You can start with simple cues like “sit” or “stay” and move on to more complex skills like agility courses. In either case you want your dog to be motivated, excited and happy to learn. 

        There’s a catch though, this is not so effective when you want to teach your dog NOT to do things. Does this mean we have to punish our dogs when we want to teach them NOT DO things? The asnwer is No and I will explain what’s the alternative soon, but before going there let’s talk about breed and Obedience Training. There’s this understanding and mantra that is often repeated among the dog community that dogs need a Job and that we should fullfil their breed. 

         

        Should I Fullfill the dog’s breed because they need a job??

         

        Dog trainers put dogs on high arousal and high dopamine to tap into the dog’s “high drive”in order to perform and win competitions like agilty, dogs sports and things like that. Why? Because they get faster obedience and it looks great in their reels or youtube videos.

         The problem with High Obedinece Training is that you can tap into their breed and nurture it. This can backfire when dealing with some unwanted behaviors like herding scooters, chasing kids, excessive barking, obsessive bahviors, attacking strangers, protecting your house/you or fighting with other dogs. Regular Family dog owners do not benefit from nurturing the breed of their dog. The most obvious examples are Pit Bulls or Dobermans whom were breed to fight or cattle dogs with herding tendencies that will chase bikes, kids, runners or anything that moves. 

         

        So, How do you teach your dogs Not to do things? 

         

        The answer is with Behavioral Training. When you have a family dog, usually this “Not to do things” are unwanted behaviors like excessive barking, pulling on the leash, biting, aggression, jumping on people, resource guarding, destructive behaviors etc.

        All these behaviors are not fixed by encouraging excitement, high arousal, high dopamine or high drive. Quite the opposite. These behaviors can only be modified with self control, calm energy, boundaries and a sound state of mind. 

        When dealing with these behaviors all of a sudden the excessive encouragement of excitement, high arousal, high drive and high dopamine used in Obedience Training are not going to help. Even worse, they can backfire if you’re not careful. 

        Behavior Training is based on emotional state of mind, self control and social skills. Training and Conditioning is about micromanaging and redirecting every move the dog does without really working on the state of mind of the dog. 

         

        What’s Behavior Training?

         

        Behavior is based on Agency: your dog’s abilty to control their state of mind and your dog’s ability to control their emotional responses to environments or triggers. 

        Behavior  training has to do with helping your dog to be in a sound state of mind. The skills needed are self control, respect and boundaries. It is based on your body language skills, energy control and mastering techniques that changes the emotional response of your dog, not necessarily redirecting them all the time. These techniques can include desensitation, counter-conditioning, enrichment, differential reinforcement, ABA and Coping Skills and Social 

        A different way of seeing this is thinking of Behavior as social skills (being in a controlled state of mind and emotionally sound) and thinking of Obedience Training as going to Harvard or Yale, where you can learn very specific skills.

        The one that will put you in trouble is the lack of social and behavioral skills (Behavioral Training). In other words you are not going to go to jail because didn´t go to Yale, but you will go to jail if you destroy Yale.

        In animal world this has nothing to do with being ¨good¨ or ¨bad¨, it has to do with being ¨in a controlled state of mind¨ (green zone) or in an out of controlled state of mind¨ (red zone).  If your dog is in the wrong state of mind, no matter how much training and conditioning you´ve worked on, your dog wont´t listen. Any animal on fight/flight state of mind will not listen to anyone unless you force them. And forcing does not create acceptance it creates resistance.

        To change behavior you basically need three things: 

        1. The ability to master techniques to change your dog’s state of mind or emotional response to triggers or environments.

        2. Effectively communicate with your dog: Body language and energy. Different from hand signals and treats. 

        3. A solid relationship with your dog where your dog fully trusts you. This has to do with parenting not with dominance.

         

        Conclusion.

         

        In a nut shell Obedience Training is a method for learning skills, while Behavior Training is a way of being where your dog learns to control him/herself.  

        Knowing when and how to use and integrate this two different approaches: Obedience Training and Behavior Training is key in order to create and to maintain a harmonious relationship for any family dog. If you have a family dog and you’re interested in learning how to have a well behaved and well trained dog click this link Pawmos Online Dog Training.

         

        © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved February 2023

         Preparing Your Dog for a Baby: What You Need to Know

         Preparing Your Dog for a Baby: What You Need to Know

         

        As a parent I know that bringing a baby into your home is one of the most exciting times in your life. It is also one of the most amazing experiences, but it comes with a lot of work and responsibilities that are time consuming. So it’s important to make sure your dog is ready for this big change. 

        A well-prepared dog will be less likely to feel threatened or stressed with the new arrival and will be more likely to welcome the baby with unconditional doggy love. Having said that don’t take it for granted. 

        If you are a first time parent just know that everything is going to change. No matter your intentions and your good planning you are going to have less time for your dog. There’s no way around it. 

        What NOT to do.

        A big mistake new parents make is to start spending more time with their dogs before the baby arrives. The thinking is to make up time now because they know they will be busy later with the baby. The problem with this is that when the baby comes the change from spending a lot of time to not spending barely any time is going to be more dramatic. This can lead to major behavioral issues. 

        Here are some tips to help you get your furry friend ready for the arrival of your little one.

         

        • Gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends alone. This will help your dog get used to being alone, which will be important once the baby arrives and you have less time to spend with your pet. Start by leaving your dog alone for a few minutes at a time and gradually increase the length of the separation.

         

        • Introduce your dog to baby sounds and smells. Play recordings of baby cries, laughter, and other sounds so your dog can get used to the new noises they will be hearing. Also, get a blanket or other item that smells like the baby and let your dog smell it so they can get used to the new scent.

         

        • Train your dog self control and games where they learn to be calm around excitement. A well behave dog that trusts you and listens to you is going to learn to be at peace around the baby. Focus on commands like “place” and “ settle”.

         

        • Create boundaries and rules for your dog. Decide where your dog is and is not allowed to be when the baby is around, such as in the nursery or on the furniture. Also, establish rules for how your dog should behave around the baby, such as not jumping or barking.

         

        • Teach your dog to be calm on the leash indoors. Leash communication skills can help tremendously to create calmness and bonding. The leash is a tool that can let your dog and your baby share the same space in a safe and calm manner.

         

        • Set up a safe space for your dog. Designate an area where your dog can retreat to if they become overwhelmed by the new arrival. This can be a crate or a special room where they feel safe and comfortable.

         

        • Show your dog love and attention. Despite the new arrival, it’s important to continue to give your dog love and attention so they don’t feel neglected or pushed aside.

         

        By following these tips, you can help your dog adjust to the new arrival and become a loving and supportive member of your family. Just remember to be patient, consistent, and positive in your training and interactions with your pet, and you’ll be sure to have a well-prepared dog who loves and welcomes your new baby.

         

                 © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved February 2023