Quest’s Breeder Uses Positive Reinforcement to Kennel Train Him

Kennel Training at Linda's

Because I was going to fly Quest home from Maine to Nebraska, his guardian started socializing him with a travel kennel a week or so before I arrived. Exposing a dog to something early and letting them get used to and practiced to it before the real thing, can really help your puppy feel confident.

Remember, a plane trip following being separated from his litter mates is a lot for a puppy to process. Helping it become familiar with the travel kennel using positive reinforcement will put your pup into a position to succeed on the trip home.

One thing I would suggest that I didn’t get a chance to film is to practice carrying the dog in the carrier. Be sure that they dog gets good and comfortable in the kennel first as picking it up too early can influence its opinion of going into the carrier.

So take it one step at a time, only move to carrying when the dog is comfortable going into and staying inside the kennel and use a lot of positive reinforcement (high value treats and plenty of love). Make the first trip inside short. Maybe just step out to the street and then come back in and relate the dog. Open the kennel flap slowly so the dog doesn’t burst out. If it is whimpering, wait for the exact second it stops to let it out. As soon as it does, open the flap / door and invite the dog out. You are rewarding it for being calm and quiet.

Put the puppy back in the pen with his litter mates and have some breakfast or lunch with the breeder. You want to give the dog time to process the experience. If possible, having the pup take a nap after the first ride in the carrier / kennel. This allows the neuro-pathways in the brain to sort of categorize and process what it learned.

Be sure to continue to use positive reinforcers. Toss a few treats into the kennel on the floor without zipping it shut or picking it up. This way every time they approach the kennel, something different may happen, but there is always a nice treat or reward.

You can apply this kind of positive reinforcement to just about every kind of puppy training. Not only is it effective, it motivates the dog to want to do what it is you are training it to do.

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