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Multi dog household

Sometimes it takes an “event” to provide the impetus for a lesson.

A client of mine who lives with six dogs recently had the four younger ones in a kennel. The Weimaraner and the most recent rescue got into a bad fight there. This was not the first time they had fight but it was certainly the worst incident to date.

After they came back from the kennel there were a couple more incidents. The friction usually happened while the dogs were let out into the open to play…so it was clear that we had to work on making the release moment less exciting, be it at the door, be it from the crate.

The dogs were always released from their crates and then left to their own devices. This meant usually a mad dash to the toy box and then wild play with one another. Also they would all be released at once.

Clearly we needed to change the meaning of the crate door opening from: BURST OUT AND BE WILD! to: THE DOOR IS OPEN, SO WHAT?


Then I remembered watching Susan Garret’s impressive DVD called “CRATE GAMES”.

Basically the idea is to re-associate the sound and the movement of the crate door from a “rush out” cue to a “sit/wait” cue.

It was amazing how quickly the pointers and the Weimaraner picked up on this.

Not only does the opening of the door not equal “RUSH OUT OF THE CRATE”  anymore, but they will voluntarily walk right back in and stay in there with the door open. All those dogs were already crate trained and walked into their crates when asked to do so but this took things a step further.

It was fun and I only wish I had worked on this sooner.But then, like so often, we don’t “fix” things until they are “broke”. I should also mention that we put the toy box into a closet!

Crate door is open
crate door is open
both crate doors are open
  1. How adorable! Such manners for Nono and Sia. Very creative on the adults end.

    Comment by karen on June 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm
  2. That is totally hilarious! Great job and really fun to watch!

    Comment by Fran on June 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm
  3. Actually my friend and website designer Kendra Dixson was the person who sent me the video. So 99% of the credit goes to her!

    Comment by Elisabeth on June 11, 2011 at 7:55 am
  4. Hee hee, well a good friend of mine forwarded it to me so the list goes on. I think it is so cute and I’m amazed at how well the dogs are behaved, although you do see a little help from the human hands so they don’t dive their noses into their dish. lol

    Comment by Kendra Dixson on June 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm
  5. yes the dogs are great! I also liked HOW they helped the dogs by pretending it was a human “putting your chin in your hands” gesture. It is most entertaining.

    Comment by Elisabeth Weiss on June 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm