National Train Your Dog Month and Super Smiley on Crate Training

Welcome to 2015 and to National Train Your Dog Month! Created by The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, National Train Your Dog Month celebrates dog training and helps share its message of dog training far and wide!

A trained dog is a happy dog. Last month Super Smiley and I weighed in on the question of Do Dogs Really Need Obedience Training? Between the two of us we agreed that obedience training isn’t only good for making your dog obedient, but it actually can help make him happier and more relaxed!

So, for National Train Your Dog Month, even though you might start by brushing up on your dog’s obedience, there’s a lot more to choose from. Here are our top-five training topics:

  • Brush up on basic obedience: sit, stay, down, come, heel. Then, add more behaviors that work for you like “wait” or “off” and fun moves like “high five.”
  • You can quickly move on to fun and games like agility training, or if your dog is older or can’t physically handle the obstacles, you can train him to “come” with games of hide and seek with high-value rewards at the end.
  • Gain additional structure with crate training.
  • Advance your dog’s “credentials” with the AKC Good Citizens training and testing.
  • Investigate some specialized classes you may have never even considered, like search and rescue, therapy dog work or sheep herding!

There is a plethora of fun and ultra creative training opportunities for you and your dog! They may look very different from one another, but each of them will result in better communication, deeper bonding and a stronger family structure. As you try some new training this month, we’d love you to share your results with us and let all your friends know about National Dog Training Month!

Super Smiley here and, as a dog, I can say that for me, training means fun! It means I get to interact with new things in new ways and then get treats, massages and lots of love. I’ve had private lessons at my house and group dog classes out in a field. In the private lessons, the trainer was able to assess my structure at my home and give suggestions. In group class, I get to build focus by practicing my moves with all the other dog distractions around. I recommend both!

Last month, Megan and I blogged in detail about basic obedience training and touched on agility training, so I’ll move on to #3 on our list above and talk a little about crate training.

Train 2

We dogs love “to den,” to curl up in a space that is quiet and safe. So if we see our crate as our den (or safe little condo), we will look at it as our wonderful, private relaxation area. Also, by nature, we dogs don’t soil our dens, so crate training can also be used in house training. The big secret is that we have to be introduced to this space in a way that makes us love it! Here are five steps to get started with crate training:

  • First, place a blanket in the crate that we have slept on and a T-shirt or socks you have worn so it smells like home. And it should be big enough for us to stand up in and turn around easily and big enough so we can stretch out in our sleep. But, not bigger than that or the house breaking training may backfire and your dog may choose to use a corner of his crate as the bathroom!
  • Introduce us to our crate by putting a treat at the door. We will love to get that one! Then gradually move the treats further in and we will learn that the crate means good things! Crate training can take a few days or weeks depending upon our willingness to go in as well as our past history with crates. So be patient and listen to your dog for best results.
  • Begin feeding us our meals inside the crate with the door opened. We will think this is the happy place!
  • Once we go in and out freely and relaxed, you can close the door for a few seconds, then open it and give us a treat and let us walk out if we want to. Do this for a day or so and gradually increase the time the door is shut. Give us a toy or chew treat when the door is shut for a few minutes so we still associate the crate with good things. Gradually introduce walking away for a few minutes and then make that longer.
  • If you want to train us to sleep in the crate or if you are house breaking a dog or puppy and need them to sleep in the crate for that training, be sure to let them relieve themselves right before going to bed. If they wake up whining after three or four hours, take them out “to go,” and as soon as they “go” bring them back into the crate for the rest of the night. Never leave a puppy in the crate more than three hours or a house broken dog in more than five hours, except for sleeping through the night.

Like Megan said, “A trained dog is a happy dog!” We dogs love to do things with our people and fit into our family. And training makes all of that better! Let us know what you did for your new training and how it affected your relationship with your dog. And Happy National Train Your Dog Month!

Until Next Time, Happy National Train Your Dog Month! Woof and Super Smiles from,

Super Smiley and Megan Blake, The Pet Lifestyle Coach®


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