Crate Duty

“Hey kid, want to go to the Dentist? Here’s 50 bucks, get on the chair so I can lock you in.”

Sooner or later, virtually every puppy, no matter how juicy the tidbit thrown into the back of its crate, is going to balk at going in once it’s now mature enough to form an association that the cookie in the crate leads to confinement; i.e. the crate equals an interruption to the flow. What now?

I often hear the advice that an owner should try to make the crate a positive experience. Letting the puppy go in and out for a cookie without getting locked up is perhaps the best neutralizing strategy of this method, but other than that I don’t recommend the philosophy and overall methodology in this approach because in the final analysis if one is trying to make the crate positive by investing in all these positive things, they are in fact working against the nature of temperament which works according to an energetic logic (-) – – > (+) i.e.: a negative is always access to a positive. In other words, an animal’s mind is constructed so that it isn’t possible to have a perception of a positive without a counterbalancing perception of a negative as access to that positive. A negative that isn’t access to a positive, we can then colloquially call “negative” because the dog will avoid it. So once the crate has acquired a “negative” value in that it is perceived by the dog as representing an interruption to the flow of energy, then the more energy someone invests in making the crate so-called “positive;” in reality the more the dog will come to associate this so-called positive energy with its perception of the crate-as-a-negative-that-denies-access-to-the-positive.

When I was ten years old, no one could have convinced me that going to the dentist was a positive experience. I suppose if someone offered me a million dollars and a million ice cream cones, and since while sitting in the chair I could think about all the ice cream cones a million dollars could buy after I had finished off my first million ice cream cones, I could have voluntarily submitted my body to the chair. But I still wouldn’t have believed that the dentist experience was positive, it was simply something I was choosing because I now perceived it as a negative that led me to a positive.

So in the absence of the capacity to think and mental time travel, we can’t make the crate positive by adding more and more positives to the equation because in reality we’re merely adding more and more energy to the impasse with the dog coming to perceive its owner as trying to control it, and which paradoxically is thereby knocking it out of CHOICE. “Wow, there must really be something wrong with that crate if they’re trying so hard to convince me it’s positive.” Every kid dopes this out when they sense their parents seem to want them to do something a little too much.

However, you can make the crate positive RELATIVE TO THE ALTERNATIVE. (For example, if a comb is run through hair it acquires a surplus of electrons so that the hair becomes positive RELATIVE TO THE COMB. No actual positives, no protons, have in reality been added to the strands of hair, it’s just that electrons have leaped from the hair to the comb and so the two become electrically drawn together. So in my analogy, if the comb is the crate and the dog a strand of hair, the dog would magically leap into the crate because it feels that the crate is a relief of an electrostatic pressure.) Therefore, when the alternative to going into the crate becomes more intense than the crate, the dog feels an electrostatic pull to the crate and it CHOOSES to go in. And once the matter of choice is invoked then the crate is assigned to the energy loop as a-negative-that-leads-to-a-positive. By this I mean that if anything ever positive ever happens again in the dog’s life, as for example if it is ever let out of the crate, then the dog’s temperament records the crate as the negative-that-led-to-that-particular positive. Eventually, as the dog’s temperament gets more and more involved in the dog’s way of being, all positives are perceived as being linked to the negatives such as crate duty. I have never owned a dog that as an adult didn’t race to get locked up in a crate, kennel or house when I needed them to, even when they were leaving something compelling outside. In their minds, getting confined was how they were going to connect with what they were attracted to. (I also didn’t have to do anything in regards to crate training because they naturally came to associate the crate, kennel, indoors as being integral to the positive, prey-making things they got to do outdoors, and this was because I never gave any thought to making the crate positive.)

So if one is dealing with a dog balking at the crate, how does one make the crate RELATIVELY POSITIVE? By objectifying the problem

In other words don’t give the dog a psychological problem to solve, “Go into the crate because I think you should think it’s positive.” Give the dog a physical problem to solve.

A woman once called me about her big dog that was destroying her apartment when she left it alone. She was about to be evicted. I told her to get a crate and confine it so that it could learn that being calm in the crate is how it WILLED her return. She bought a crate and soon called me back telling me that she was a big, strong woman, and her son was a big, strong man and yet the two of them could not get this dog into the crate. It wasn’t aggressive but it was like trying to wrestle the Samsonite gorilla into the luggage it was stomping into the ground. (Sorry for the dated pop-cultural reference.) She had a pickup truck so I told her to come over to my farm with the dog and crate.

When they arrived I put the dog on a “high collar” (snaked up tight behind its ears) with the crate positioned on the tail gate. I also placed a narrow bench as a halfway step and by cranking up on the collar, the dog became slightly uncomfortable and this caused the dog to get up on the bench so that now it was now facing the opening of the crate, and halfway committed to making the choice I wanted. There was a gap between the dog and the crate, with the crate about a foot higher.  I should have whispered into the dog’s ear. The woman didn’t notice it but as I pulled up on the collar again and pointed into the crate, the dog began to have a mini-panic attack but now its options were reduced to two physical realities, the abyss below, or the crate above. It instantly chose the crate. After a dozen repetitions, I had the woman practice the exercise and soon the dog was zooming into the crate even when the crate was on the ground. In about five minutes the dog had associated getting into the crate with getting out of the crate. (The long term goal is that once a dog will play with its owner and wants the toy the owner wants it to want, no-matter-what, then the crate becomes linked on that continuum as well, one more negative that leads to the ultimate positive, the ultimate positive being hunting with its owner.)

This dog above was an extreme case just to make the point. Usually, before we get to the moment of truth, I have already placed the crate onto a box about six inches off the ground, and the dog is dragging a lead around. I get to the lead and then walk the dog into position, I pitch a cookie inside the crate, invariably to be consumed later, and then extend my hand a few inches inside the crate and as high to its top as I can. Then I wait as the dog becomes uncomfortable. I say nothing. The more the dog resists, the more uncomfortable it becomes and the sooner it will work out the choice. Paradoxically, the question of control is shifting away from the human and onto the dog itself, whereas with the positive approach the exact opposite tends to happen. The instant the inside of the crate is perceived as being more comfortable than the outside, the dog hops in. I’ve said nothing, I’ve invested no energy into the equation, I was merely a “smart” post leaving the dog to learn for itself that it can choose either to make itself uncomfortable, or to make itself comfortable by getting into the crate.

It turned out that I never got that blank check for unlimited ice cream cones and yet I now go regularly to the Dentist. I even pay him. Sure does beat the alternative.

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Published March 9, 2010 by Kevin Behan
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50 responses to “Crate Duty”

  1. christine randolph says:

    I don’t totally get the link between “the Dog is biting whatever the owner wants it to bite”, (is that the treat ?)and that this then links up to the continuum which also includes the crate…

    other than that, I had that same experience.
    crate in bedroom, dog does NOT want to go in.

    there are so many comfy places right there that he would rather be.

    crate in back of van, goes in no problem, wants to be in car, and crate is right there.

    funnily also, my border collie used to sleep in the large crate in bedroom. (open door)

    then i put up a second crate, smaller, ( i was wondering if my very small dog would go in, but no.) for a week or so, border collie slept in that. then, things changed completely, now she sleeps in the doggie bed that was supposed to be for the larger dog.

    and the larger dog has decided that the dog bed that was supposed to be for the very small dog is a great place.

    for a while i thought they do not try to lie in places that another dog has already claimed. i guess i am proven wrong…

  2. kbehan says:

    Sorry, wasn’t clear enough. What I mean is that if the dog bites the prey-object so that handler = moose energy, then all the negatives (such as crate) are now not interruptions but points of access on that continuum, they’re integrated in the dog’s mind as necessary to success.

  3. Heather says:

    Kevin, Thank you for the article.

    I used that technique (as a self-created experiment) awhile back to deal with the jumping and grabbing at a certain spot in the yard. Happy wears a drag line. The choice was bite the toy, or make yourself uncomfortable by trying to bite my arm. He chose bite the toy, play tug/push/food pretty quickly, although it took about 3 or 4 repetitions where he dropped the toy and experienced the discomfort. I used the disassociation tactic you mention in your book, silent choking up on the leash/collar, pretending I am not aware of what is going on, I have the toy and want to play. He seemed unsure, I would say softened, for a bit, but he did jump and play and push so I think even if it was the wrong thing to do (I wasn’t sure if you would recommend it but I got to the point where I felt it was the only option) there wasn’t a negative association with me. I haven’t had to do it since, I hope the bite toy groove has gotten deeper, it was already very good, but needs to be very close to 100%.

  4. Donnie_O says:

    When should a dog-in-training be in a crate and for how long?

  5. kbehan says:

    When the dog is emotionally mature enough to be in the house without feeling that any of the items have prey value, then he’s ready. So you do little doses from time to time as he’s maturing and finally you know when you know and that’s the end of the crate. I’ve never corrected any of my dogs for anything in the house, and neither did they ever do anything “wrong” because I only gave them access when they were either calm, or ready for freedom. Once I had to leave them alone for 38 hours due to unexpected emergency and amazingly there was no accident or transgression. It never occurred to them. I came home at three in the morning, let them out, they took the longest whiz I’ve ever seen dogs take, and then five minutes later they were back in the house and went to sleep until I got up the next day which was far later than usual.

  6. Sang says:

    Hey Kevin, what happens if a dog’s default reaction to the high collar is complete shut down? I’m just curious if you’ve ever run across a dog or situation where the dog chose to just hang himself rather than make a choice because he was so shut down. I imagine that first a dog has to be someone open and expressing his drive away from the crate in order for him to express some sense of fight or panic that would induce him to choose to go into the crate.

  7. Donnie_O says:

    Jinxsie tends to snap at one of the cats (the one less apt to swat and hiss at her) every so often. I was starting to crate her and one day after eating some half-thawed tidbit in the park she got sick in her crate overnight. Since then I’ve been reluctant to crate her again as I’m concerned that it is very stressful for her. However, snapping at the cat (who seems to be unbothered by it) isn’t a great situation so I’m going to give it another try.

  8. Donnie_O says:

    speaking of cats, I’d love to see a video or read a more in-depth description of the way you train cats to show their predator-ness towards a dog….

  9. kbehan says:

    If a dog were to be that shut down, then I would spend a lot of time working on suppling him and getting him into active mode with pushing and barking as you note. If a dog were to lock up about the crate, then it would be possible to physically manipulate him, actually flexing his body for him, and gently position him into the crate. This has happened to me when I had to pick up a dog in my car and he has to be crated. You can just cradle the dog and pop him in.

  10. Valerie and Eka says:

    This is very timely for me. Eka still chews on many things I don’t want her to chew on inside the house. I thought it was her terrier-ness. I have tried praising her and trading her treats for whatever she is chomping on. But I’m getting very frustrated and feel like I’m encouraging her to do it more, and she seems more ‘magnetized’ to them. And the boys’ action figures are at stake here!

    I don’t crate her much but I have started keeping her on a long leash with limited access to the rest of the house for a good bit of time based on a recommendation from someone on Neil’s forum. But when I do let her off she often runs right to something to chew on – shoes, action figures, anything plastic.

    Ok so with that background, with a 1 yr old dog, should I go ‘back’ to crating her most of the time like a young puppy and only letting her out to go outside or for small periods to run around inside the house? How do I keep her from going directly to Batman on the floor over there? What if she barks a lot and digs at teh door when in the crate?

    And in operant conditioning this sounds like it would be deemed R-? Something negative goes away when the dog does what you want? Is it different?

  11. kbehan says:

    The real problem is she has learned that struggling over the toys is the most amount of energy she gets to release, so you do have to mechanically prevent her from getting any deeper into that syndrome. Meanwhile, she needs to get an even more powerful release outdoors than the toys and so that this can then become the organizing principle for how she regulates her energy. Also, if kids are playing with dog indoors, then only safe outlet for dog to bite is their toy, so she is cooperatively self-regulating in that sense.
    She shouldn’t run around the house at all, I would teach her down/stay on a box and let her see the kids doing their thing and she has to stay put. This will neutralize the barking in the crate problem which is probably going to happen. So crate her in quietest spot in the house.

  12. Valerie and Eka says:

    Thank you, Kevin! This is very helpful. Oh how I wish I’d found NDT when we got her instead of so many months later….

    And this explains why she jumps so readily into the crate in a minivan, because the first few times I had her get in the crate in a vehicle we arrived at the dog park soon afterwords (she likes the dog park) or somewhere else to play outside.

    I’m crating her today and then intermittently playing tug and fetchtug outside. A bit of barking and scratching at the door earlier I did put her outside for a conference call, which I don’t normally do, because she wasn’t being quiet enough for me to hold the call and she barked a lot outside. That may account for some of the tiredness, but we had a good energized round of play afterwords and she is sleeping very soundly in her crate right now.

    And by ‘run around in the house’ I meant not in the crate or on a lead. Not that she would be actually running necessarily. I’ll be interested to see how the down/stay on a box inside while the boys are playing. They can get pretty rambunctious. Not sure how long she would stay there. And I need to figure out a good inside box.

    Ok, we’ll see how it goes! Thanks again!

  13. kbehan says:

    For now, since she doesn’t know down/stay no matter what, don’t do training indoors with boys playing. It’s better to do nothing than do the wrong thing and she’s not ready for that degree of conflict. So in calm outdoor setting teach her down (see Neils’ video) stay on box and next step is get her to play with tug toy and/or push for food when boys are playing OUTSIDE. This means she’s giving her energy to you no-matter-what and this is half way to staying down no-matter-what, you can’t go to step 4 without going 1,2,3 first. Go slow and do nothing until you know what to do.

  14. Heather says:

    –get her to play with tug toy and/or push for food when boys are playing OUTSIDE–

    I can’t tell you how much this helped us.

    Playing with kids’ toys inside with him relaxing in the same room is a LONG ways off yet for us, but hopefully we will get there.

  15. Valerie and Eka says:

    Ah ok. So she should pretty much be in the crate when indoors all of the time, then outdoors for all activities. Step 1. Yeah, that’s me – trying to skip ahead or ‘efficiently’ do several steps at once.

    Then train outside without boys (have already been doing), outside WITH boys, THEN inside without boys, THEN inside WITH boys. Yes I’m a ways from that.

    Need to break out Neil’s videos again.

    “Go slow and do nothing until you know what to do.”


    Thank you, that is very heartening to see in print. I’ve been sort of doing that, but not with conviction, and more because when I don’t know what to do, then I don’t know what to do, though I feel I should be doing SOMEthing. That not knowing state is very uncomfortable. Hard to ‘sit with’. Probably a big Eckart Tolle/buddhist/zen lesson in there.

    This will be much easier to commit to now that the weather is warming up too. A bit muddy for a bit though. We got Eka in January and I’m making a mental note for the next one (someday) to be a spring puppy for sure. 🙂

  16. kbehan says:

    Right, whenever you feel guilty, take her for a nice walk outdoors. She can be free indoors whenever she’s emotionally spent. Soon the outside equals excitement, the indoors equals calmness. After she’s hardened in the outdoors as expansiveness equals excitement, when she comes in the house she is suffused with calmness and it can’t occur to her to get excited.

  17. Heather says:

    I have been pushing, tugging, trusting the process for a few months now. In the past few days Happy has really been liking it when we play tug and he pushes into me hard and I push him away hard then coming back and playing more tug. He would sometimes get too excited with this, but now he seems to be relaxed (strangely relaxed!), and he is super responsive to me. He settles down and comes inside calmly. This feeling of shared purpose/energy is really fantastic. I am only now starting to appreciate that NDT is not a quick fix or a “training technique” to use to modify, create, or stop discrete behaviors.

  18. Heather says:

    Do you think that what is happening over time is that I am representing less of an obstacle (resistance) to Happy fulfilling his drive, and more and more becomming the way for him to get more fulfillment? Could that be why for awhile it seemed that he struggled more and more with me, because he assigned to me the label of “big barrier to access to good things?” If so, it definitely is a process of building trust, being open to receive the energy, eliminating/avoiding situations where struggles might occur, and then just keep on going through that loop over and over.

    But…eventually, and I feel that I am at that point in some areas, there are some situations to stop avoiding, little by little, and those situations are going to trigger that old junk. How to know when it is OK to purposely trigger the old energy and resolve it in the “new” harmonious way?

  19. Heather says:

    So I just wanted to clarify, because our issue is also “toys”, not so much inside (b/c we aren’t even beyond the pen yet), but outside. Too many people walking around with too many toys and Happy gets too stimulated. Some dogs seem to sit and wait to see if a person will throw the ball…Happy would grab the ball, grab the person instead of the ball. It is definitely from overstimulation by/over-training with toys when he was little, again I am not wanting to beat myself up because now I know better I do better, and it was pretty normal puppy stuff recommended these days.

    Spring is coming and the kids toys, especially BALLS, are going to come out, we’ve done so much over these winter months and I want to be prepared and not regress. Bikes and scooters and swings and even sleds seemed to take care of themselves automatically, they are not prey items and now just fixtures in the driveway, or things the kids ride on. Balls, hula-hoops, jump ropes, may be a different story. Or maybe not, maybe I just tug and push and relax with a marrow bone just like I did with the bikes?

  20. kbehan says:

    Yes, what you are doing is learning how to let Happy’s temperament evolve into existence, and this then becomes his means of discrimination for where his most intense expressions of energy should go. So yes, at first by putting a dog into a stimulating environment for which its temperament is not yet evolved enough to handle, one ends up in a struggle even if they’re trying to be positive, and this then becomes the dogs’ definition of where the intense energy should go. Eventually once you reach critical mass, you can put the dog into triggering situations, and later is better than sooner, and now since owner equals access to the best expressions of energy so that dog tunes into what owner is FEELING, if the dog then slips back into an inappropriate expression and that doesn’t make owner FEEL good, it’s easy to communicate this and dog can understand because emotion is a group medium. So you can make a test and let the thing start and see if the dog can get itself out of situation the goal being for you to do as little as you can get away with. Periodically repeat the test to take a reading. When the dog’s ready, the dog is ready, just as the tide comes in when its time for the tide to come in, not before.

  21. kbehan says:

    Right, it’s working from the inside out so can be the slowest way, but I believe the surest. Often one has to go through a personal crisis themselves because emotion is a group medium and what the dog’s behavior triggers feelings in the owner, and this is what we’re really struggling with, not the dog. It’s never about the dog.

  22. kbehan says:

    First, do pushing exercise with kids at various peaks of play intensity. Their job is to generate precise degrees of energy. Then, holding Happy or securing Happy to a post, the kids bobble the “sacred bite object” that Happy never sees except for training, for example a hearty rope tug. The kids ask Happy to bark and then throw tug toy into range and Happy can get it and is now allowed to run on lead with toy in mouth. Next the kids break out their toys and the goal is for Happy to channel this charge into the bite object in mouth. There should be a light cord secured to rope toy so that after kids toss each other the ball they’re playing with, they can from time to time tug on Happy’s tug-toy in mouth to cement the connection that this is indeed the sacred bite object. Next phase is train Happy to down/stay on box and wait with tug toy at distance in front of him on yard. Then kids play as before and the periodically you say “Reeeeaaaaadddyyy” and then GO and Happy gets to sacred bite object. Long term goal is for Happy to be free off/lead running around while kids play their games. Then sacred object is left indoors, kids play for a few moments outdoors, “Reeeadddy” and some one goes indoors and gets tug toy for Happy. Happy is learning to self-modify and that the Charge isn’t the kid’s toys and their movements, but everything that’s on the relevant loop that leads to Ready, Set, GO. That’s the progression.

  23. Heather says:

    “Often one has to go through a personal crisis themselves because emotion is a group medium”

    Definitely. How many times I have wished this past year (not really understanding what I was wishing for at the time) my puppy was the defensively hyper-friendly type, which is really what most puppies that “fit right into” home life are demonstrating. And of course it’s about me and my own way of being, Happy’s fine the way he is, in fact he’s got a better temperament than me 🙂 He’s just needing me to trust him so he can trust me and then I can be the ground for his energy…I can see and feel it clearly, I’m sure we’re on the right path.

    Thank you very much as always! It is probably harder working with the people than the dogs?

  24. Heather says:

    –So you can make a test and let the thing start and see if the dog can get itself out of situation the goal being for you to do as little as you can get away with–

    We did this today so well – it felt really good, much better than instructing Happy what to do/not do – I took Happy with the kids and the much-coveted BACKPACKS to the end of the driveway to get the bus. Happy milled around the kids, found sticks…once he went for the backpack pulls (backpack was on my son at the time, he is good at not reacting), and me just moving toward the toy on the ground got him focused on it for a tug, then back to milling with the kids, it was very nice. Right after this we did our walk, then a super energetic tug/push, and he’s been out cold for 4 hours.

  25. Heather says:

    Thank you for the instructions, this is going to be excellent.

  26. Heather says:

    Looking back I can see the situation I was struggling with more clearly. I wanted to “do” something about it when Happy got overexcited/overloaded and jumped and grabbed at me, but at 5 or 6 months when I started seeing the behavior, he was not ready or capable of putting that energy into the “group mood,” so there was absolutely nothing I could or should have done except to avoid putting him in situations that were too stimulating. Also the pushing to attract his energy, build trust, and stopping formally “teaching” him, which was working in opposition to the pushing by adding to my “resistive” value. From an energy standpoint it is not a bad thing that his instinct is to ground his stress energy that way, right? (perhaps better than out into the environment, other dogs, escaping)…just that it would not be desirable for that to become a strong channel/habit.

    The job for me then as he is getting older now and I am really noticing that we have this shared emotion/group mood, and Happy is feeling it too, is to recognize but not struggle with Happy when his energy isn’t flowing there (it’s easy to recognize with him at least, and Happy is able to understand instantly that it doesn’t make me feel good), to just get the energy flowing there again. It feels a lot better than simply unloading stress energy.

    So I can see how being positive (or negative, or calm assertive, or really anything) can still be a struggle – anything that that interrupts or doesn’t lead to the flow of group energy vs. increasing it would be inappropriate, or at least be missing the golden opportunity for real learning in that moment.

    I know you reiterate these things over and over on your site and via the discussions, and also in the book, but still I think it is not easy to grasp the big picture. Also it is easier now to understand how it is always important to keep pushing, playing, keep the lines of communication open that way.

  27. Heather says:

    In your book you mention how it is important for a dog for his master to be decisive and sensitive…I think I had trouble with the decisive part, because I wasn’t really clear about what the goal was. It’s not that you didn’t do a good job of explaining the goal, or that the goal is too complex, I just didn’t really grasp it.

  28. Valerie and Eka says:

    Oh my goodness! 1.5 days of more or less consistent indoor crating and I can already tell a difference! She’s more engaged outside, she is more consistently eating the food in my hand instead of sniffing and rejecting it if there is only kibble and no ‘amendment’ (turkey bacon, chicken, turkey, whatever it takes). She actually brought toys to me a couple of times which she hadn’t really done before. And when she wins her tug toy she really shakes it good, more than I’ve ever seen her do before.

    The first day I had a ton of questions but the two that stand out are about when at the crate and I pull on the lead to get her to choose to go into the crate I pull on the lead and move my hand into the crate. There is this obvious line going from her to my hand in the crate and I’m not very subtle at it yet. And then I just kind of sit there while she pulls back. And she resists for a good minute. Does she really not know that my hand is causing the discomfort?

    And then when we’re outside and we get going with everything and *I* need a break she is humping me more and more and wants to bite the sleeve of my jacket. What should I do? Praise her? Turn it into a push game? Just relax and try to be uninteresting until she stops? She’s not really interesting in biting any of the toys I’ve tried at those moments.

    And I feel so much more sane not trying to be the goalie of the toys of twin boys and a mother who does not want to have to keep her bags off the floor.

    Oh and Heather said:

    I know you reiterate these things over and over on your site and via the discussions, and also in the book, but still I think it is not easy to grasp the big picture. Also it is easier now to understand how it is always important to keep pushing, playing, keep the lines of communication open that way.

    I definitely know what you mean. I’m just now getting the crate thing and I want to say “Why were you keeping this from me?!” But there is crate stuff talked about in various places but I wasn’t getting it and I had mixed feelings about crating. Then the frustration of another decapitated Iron Man, and almost chewed through shoe strap pushed me over.

  29. AZdogermanstu says:

    Can the dissociation technique described in this article be used to teach the dog to push or bite the toy better? If dog is displaying drive to squirrels for instance: Dog reaches end of lead and cannot go further, dog turns around and sees handler, slightly balks at pushing or biting (opting to run for squirrels), but handler quickly takes up slack in leash so that the choice is: push-for-food/bite toy or feel uncomfortable tension. Dog would feel: squirrel chasing is frustrating and uncomfortable, driving into handler is good? It seems like because biting/eating is such a good feeling experience that the dog would soon learn to choose this option. Thanks!

  30. Heather says:

    hmmm…thanks Stu for posting this on the crate article. After reading thru the comments I’m re-thinking whether getting to sniff around/explore in an off-limits part of the house is what I want to be the “positive” to the car’s “negative,” but maybe I could manage it in a way that is not going to undo/confuse the calm-in-the-house, hunt-outside arrangement we have already established. EG he gets to go in the front door, finds a hidden chew toy and then does a down-stay for a few minutes in the off-limits room with his chew, before returning to ‘his’ part of the house.

    I could also do the same thing with outside play/tug time…one thing that we’ve already established, however, is that Happy is not a workaholic, and when he’s hot or tired, he is not interested in playing, whereas going inside is always a positive for him 😉

  31. AZdogermanstu says:

    Your welcome! The dissociation technique is fascinating and just as nuanced as anything in NDT I’m sure. probably applicable in many circumstances if done correctly. It’s all about what the dog feels not whats going on to our eyes so it’s helpful for me to put the theory to different circumstances and “thought experiments” to discern the differences between the situations and maybe come to a better understanding of NDT theory so that I don’t have to address each behavioral concern as stand-alone but as part of a “big picture”. Glad you appreciated it 🙂 It is hard to know where to put posts sometimes though, as so much of NDT is overlapping and the threads often span many subjects.

  32. kbehan says:

    Yes this can be applied although I use it for last option kind of approach. For example, once I was training a dog in protection that didn’t have enough sharpness, it was only interested in sleeve as bite toy without any intensity toward the helper. So after working around the edges for a long while and building a foundation, I addressed the problem directly by having the handler put the dog on a small elevated platform and teasing the dog with the sleeve on a long lead, swishing it around and if the dog went for the sleeve and tuned out me as the helper, it would want to jump off and the handler finagled it so the dog made itself uncomfortable and began to fight to get back on the box, which was made difficult enough to do so that its “tuning out” syndrome began to tune in to fighting to stay on the box, with the handler now able to lavishly praise it for winning that battle as it resisted the path of least resistance, i.e. the sleeve, pulling it off the box. When it had purged itself and gained surety about its footing, I intensified my approach and confronted the dog and the dog started to manifest amazing sharpness wanting to bite me rather than be distracted by the sleeve. We then let the dog get off the box for the bite, carry it around in triumph and then get back on the platform for the out and guard. With the sleeve on the ground near her feet, the dog became completely clear about fight the helper in order to get to the bite. The dog never felt better and what was really important was that as the helper I didn’t have to do anything to threaten the dog, we re-tuned the dog’s perspective by playing with the balance circuitry and letting it make itself uncomfortable by going the path of least resistance. Hope this addresses your point, thanks.

  33. Heather says:

    My friend with the new dog renamed him “Boogie.” Cute. He’s gotten better with some things, especially staying alone in the crate during the day, but nights, when people are home, he tests their patience by whining in the crate. They don’t want to be insensitive to past negative experiences, but of course maintaining the status quo isn’t what dogs want anyway, they want to put their energy somewhere. It’s not clear which way this dog orients naturally (introverted or outgoing), which will determine their approach.

  34. Donnie_O says:

    @Heather…..Jinxsie will do the same thing when I’m getting ready to take our other dog out. She’ll whine and let out high, throaty barks. What I’ve been doing lately is to get her to speak in the crate and feed her through the door. This has been a big help as she calms down considerably after this.

  35. Heather says:

    Thanks Donnie. The picture that is emerging is that the dog spent 7 years locked up. It wasn’t the previous owners fault, they didn’t know what to do with the dog either (but apparently liked the idea of having a dog to guard their business and who knows why else).

  36. Heather says:

    With this information they can handle it.

  37. Adam says:

    When you do crate training, do you “mark” the behavior of the dog going into the crate with a command, like “kennel up?” Or do you want to stay totally disconnected to the experience for the dog. Also, do most dogs only require the crate being slightly elevated, or do you put all dogs through a step up to a bench and then elevated crate?

  38. kbehan says:

    I don’t make any issue of it whatsoever. I pitch a cookie into the crate and the pup goes in. Then there’s a period when he will balk, so I make sure I have a short leash dangling and I pick it up some distance from the crate, walk over to crate, pitch in cookie and he goes in as before. Eventually, that period passes and I just have to walk toward crate, point, and he goes in. Once the dog masters the feeling that the negative equals access to the positive, it links going to the crate with the release of getting out of the crate and doing something and so going in the crate becomes self-rewarding. Our job is to facilitate this connection by being patient for the pup to become emotionally mature enough to make the connection. (Negative equals Positive is a function of the emotional battery being formatted.)

  39. Adam says:

    Just to clarify…the period when he’s balking…you go and pitch the cookie in as before, but then you ALSO apply pressure with your hand extended with the leash into the crate, right? And then you only have to do this a couple of repititions, before its a no brainer for him

  40. kbehan says:

    Yes, if you’re dealing with a balker then used the raised platform until he’s going in, and then pressure on the lead should do it after that, and then he’ll quickly start going in just for the cookie since he’s easily connecting negative-as-access-to-positive since the raised platform made it easy for him to CHOOSE to go in, even though from our human perspective it seems as if that’s the opposite of what’s happening. The higher the platform, the more intensity he will associate with his choice. The more he is aware of handler because the platform wasn’t high enough so that he really had to struggle to get in, then the more the crate is perceived as taking him out of choice and he can’t make the linkage of negative-as-access-to-positive. It’s the exact opposite of how the human intellect perceives what’s going on.

  41. Adam says:

    By platform you mean the bench the dog initially gets on…or the surface the crate is on.

  42. kbehan says:

    In terms of your recent question, I mean the raised surface the crate is on.

  43. Adam says:

    Got it. Thanks. On average, at what age is the dog emotionally mature enough to undergo the crate duy? You write in your first book that in the beginning of having the dog, you should have him outside in his own caged area with the crate inside. If you do not have a backyard, would an XPEN suffice? I would have a quiet place in the house where the dog had crate with blanket inside, a toy, and some sort of designated area to go to the bathroom. In this example, I would not be able to take him out during the day every hour, so he could use this spot in the pen, until he was old enough to be crated. Is this a good preliminary set up?

  44. Adam says:

    Got it. Thanks. On average, at what age is the dog emotionally mature enough to undergo the crate duy? You write in your first book that in the beginning of having the dog, you should have him outside in his own caged area with the crate inside. If you do not have a backyard, would an XPEN suffice? I would have a quiet place in the house where the dog had crate with blanket inside, a toy, and some sort of designated area to go to the bathroom. In this example, I would not be able to take him out during the day every hour, so he could use this spot in the pen, until he was old enough to be crated. Is this a good set up?

  45. Skip Skipper says:

    How do you handle it if the dog goes in the crate ok but after a while starts to whine and claw at the door? Thanks

  46. kbehan says:

    If the dog is frustrated in the crate, it reveals that energy is blocked in its behavioral pattern elsewhere, and then being in the crate brings this up to the surface. So, if the dog gets full flow in some synchronized group activity, eventually the crate comes to represent a “waypoint” in other words, it becomes associated with the overall flow pattern, like being willing to get into a plane or car for a long journey because it is recognized as a necessary waypoint to achieving the destination. The dog learns that getting into the crate is a negative that grants access to the positive. So when a dog is raised through flow, the dog associates the crate as a vehicle for flow, rather than as a source of confinement and frustration.

  47. cliff says:

    Unless he’s really tired, L gives up a little bark and has a brief tug before he zooms into his crate for a nap. No command or coaxing needed. If only it were all so easy…

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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