Teaching a Dog to Stay Calm in the Kennel to Help Stop its Dog Reactivity

By: David Codr

Published Date: September 4, 2018

For this Pasadena dog training session, we teach 2 year-old Schnoodle Jojo to stay calm when being let out of her kennel to develop some self control and stop 3 year-old Schnoodle Dawson from picking up her bad habit of reacting to other dogs.

I started out by asking about the dog’s daily lives. As a dog behaviorist I always look at the structure in place as I find many misbehaving dogs do so due to a lack of rules and respect for the humans as authority figures. This is common for all dogs I work with, not just when im doing Schnoodle training.

Many people shower their dogs with love, affection and attention, but never consider providing structure and discipline unless it comes to dog training. But if you tried to raise a child with no rules and said child was able to get what it wants pretty much any time it asks, no one would be surprised if the child had some behavior issues.

After suggesting some rules and how to enforce them, I went over my petting with a purpose philosophy. Im betting this single habit will help reduce or eliminate the majority of the dog’s behavior problems. The reason, petting with a purpose requires the dog to engage in some obedience or pre pay for its attention. This will boost the dog’s confidence as it will start to feel pride for earning its reward.

Ive found many dogs act out aggressively due to three primary reasons; overexcitement, they are under the impression they need to protect or be possessive of their humans and they lack self control. By showing the humans how to flip the leader follower dynamic by enforcing rules consistently, rewarding desired behaviors (passive training) and asking the dogs to earn rewards, many clients report their dog’s dog aggression problems disappear.

But developing self control is also a very important quality to develop to stop a dog from acting aggressive towards other dogs. Since there is no self control machine for dogs to use to develop more control, a good dog behavior expert will look for other activities to develop this much needed skill.

I have found a great way to help a dog develop self control is to ask them to wait or delay gratification. Asking a dog to wait for permission to eat their food (only after the human eats first), sit before letting them out a door or wait for permission to exit a kennel who’s door is open are all great ways to delay gratification and build up self control.

We put Jojo into her kennel and then we all headed outside to pretend like we were leaving so I could how the humans how to let a dog out of its kennel calmly.

At first, the guardians and their dog walker will simply wait for Jojo to sit before letting her out. Once she does that consistently, the next step is to wait for a lay down (Its important to NOT ask for either action. Waiting for a dog to do it voluntarily communicates the dog is calm and not challenging, an important part of kennel training) before letting her out. Finally they can start adding in time, waiting 1 second after a sit before giving permission to exit. Then 2 seconds, three, working up to several minutes.

When Jojo can sit or lay down calmly with the kennel door wide open and wait until given the permission word to leave the kennel, she will have developed wonderful self control and learned to calm herself down. Two skills that will go a long ways towards stopping her reactivity to other dogs.

It will take a month or so to determine if the added self control, crate training, practice at self calming, enforcement of rules and structure stop Jojo’s reactivity to other dogs on walks or not. If she is still acting aggressive towards other dogs at that time, we may need to set up a short follow up session to focus on her behavior around other dogs.

To help the guardians remember all the dog behavior tips I shared during this in home dog training session in Pasadena, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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