Teaching a Puppy to Wait for Permission to Exit its Kennel to Practice Self Control

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 19, 2021

Poseidon and Rocky scaled - Teaching a Puppy to Wait for Permission to Exit its Kennel to Practice Self Control

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with a pair of Australian Shepherds; 4 year-old Rocky and 6 month-old Poseidon, teaching the pup to wait for permission to exit his kennel to help him develop self control.

The primary reason I was called in was Rocky going after Poseidon unexpectedly, usually when the puppy was receiving some attention or affection from one of the guardians.

I started things off by discussing the importance of exercise. Australian Shepherd‘s are a working class of dog and if they don’t get sufficient exercise it can affect their behavior. Your average dog needs one hour of exercise every single day, working breeds like Australian Shepherd‘s need more than that.

After suggesting a number of ways to get the dogs physical exercise and mental stimulation such as feeding out of snuffle mat, scent games, treat puzzles and cons filled with peanut butter, we discussed the dogs day today routine.

I found out that the dogs don’t have a whole lot of rules in place in this lack of structure can confuse some dogs into thinking that the humans are not on top of things. Introducing some rules such as not allowing the dogs to be near one another when they have a high value item, not being allowed to be in the kitchen when humans are preparing food or near the humans when they are eating can all help the dogs practice some self-control while simultaneously helping them see the humans behaving like leaders through their actions.

It’s not a straight line so many people fail to make the connection between a lack of rules and structure and dogs who are acting out. But if you feel like management is keeping you in a safe space, you can let your guard down.

I think the problem at hand is that Rocky thinks that it is his job to handle security for the home both inside and out. I also think he is stressed out which is certainly a factor when it comes to his going after the puppy.

Puppies can be stressful additions to any home and while Poseidon is a wonderfully behaved dog, his addition to the family during the era of Covid was a combination that may have put Rocky on edge.

Increasing the dog’s exercise as well as incorporating positive joint interactions together will be important. Taking the dogs for walks where they are parallel to one another instead of one in front and one behind, giving them lick mats in a safe way either behind a barricade or with the dogs tethered on opposite sides of the room to make sure that no one can you get hurt are great ways to help the humans feel more confident in the exercise and help the dogs practice doing good positive things together.

Helping dogs practice self restraint and self-control is important in just about every home. But when you have dogs that are getting into fights, it takes on even more importance.

I look for opportunities to have the dogs wait for permission to do things that they want that or repeated often. This way, we essentially train the dogs and help them practice some self-control multiple times a day without even thinking about it. Having a dog sit and wait at the door until you give it permission to exit, sit and wait for you to pick up the ball and throw it during games of fetch or wait for permission to eat food waiting in a bowl are all examples of this.

Another great way to help dogs practice self-restraint is to ask them to wait when you open the door to the kennel. if your dog gets excited and wants to run out of the kennel, you should check out the free positive dog training video below.

Training a dog to wait for permission to exit the kennel is easy if you use this technique. You don’t even have to be a professional Australian Shepherd dog trainer to do it. The key is to go slow, at the dog’s pace and at times when you are not in a rush.

Unfortunately, at the end of the session, Rocky went after Poseidon when he was getting petted by one of the guardians. It was not super bad, but any dog fight is unwelcome. This was probably contrbuted to by the 3 hour visit and stress that came from a lack of practice of visitors due to covid. I worked with another client who had a dog who is jealous about the husband kissing the wife and introduced a version of the engage disengage game to address that jealous outburst. I think this technique would work great here.

I’d like the guardians to practice this exercise a couple of times and report back to me with how well it goes. When they do this, I would recommend that they have Rocky on a leash tethered to something secure across the room just in case he lunges and acts out.

But if the guardians are doing this exercise properly, the dog should not be upset at all because seeing Poseidon get attention from the other guardian means that the other guardian is going to give Rocky a treat. If Rocky acts out, its most likely they were practicing with Poseiden too close so finding the right distance will be important.

By itself, this exercise is not going to fix the problem. It’s going to address one of the symptoms; Rocky’s jealousy. But sufficiently exercising the dogs, demonstrating that there are rules in place and helping the dogs practice self-restraint will all be an important part of this canine rehabilitation plan.

I recommended that the guardians enlist the help of one of our level one trainers to show them how to do the relaxation protocol. This is a series of steps that you practice to teach the dog to stay on a dog bed and stay calm while various things go on around it. I think this exercise will be hugely benneficial for both dogs, albeit for different reasons.

Only time will tell if the changes that we introduced in this in-home dog training session will stop Rocky from going after Poseidon. It’s going to be a process and will not happen overnight so it will be important for the guardians to be diligent about all of the things we went over in the session as well as practicing the engage disengage game that I linked with the family whose dog was jealous of the husband kissing the wife.

If the flights are still continuing after a month of this, we will need to set up a follow up session to put more structure in place and be more aggressive in terms of developing a rehabilitation program to stop Rocky from going after the puppy. In some cases, dogs who are overly stressed or have other issues bennefit from medication. For now, Id like to see if we the adjustments we made to Rocky’s environment and routine do the trick, but based on his behavior and being intense at times in the session, this is an option we may need to consider down the road.

To help the guardians remember all of the tips that I shared in this in-home Omaha dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success summary video that you can check out below

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This post was written by: David Codr