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Crate Training Cesar's Way Is Not as Easy as Cesar Makes It Look.
Yes, this is a post about a puppy. Since he is set to take up quite a lot of my time over the next few months, to say nothing of the years of friendship, I think that it is impossible to not write about him. His call name is Bifteck, and pictures of him will doubtless follow. The registered name has not been decided, since She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed conveniently left town for the last few days.
That said, this post is about some of the advice out there about dogs and puppy training. I read the Dog Whisperer's book about puppies a couple of days ago, and I was really sold on the crate training idea. My first disclaimer: I in no way have any pretensions of knowing how to raise a dog better than Cesar. However, I'd like to talk about how difficult some of his "easy steps" are to follow.
The only problem seems to be making the puppy see it that way too. The Dog Whisperer has this whole "calm assertive energy" thing throughout the book. I guess that it really underlines how much of an art his techniques are, as opposed to a science. Back to the crate training: the book explains that puppies should be introduced to crates at a young age, so that they will have a "den"- a place to be calm and relaxed. The added benefit that really impressed me is that it will be easier to house-train the dog, because a dog will do everything that it can to avoid being on or near its own waste. In an ideal situation, that means holding their bladder until they go outside.
So how does the Dog Whisperer recommend you go about introducing your dog to the crate? There are a couple of anecdotes about new owners who follow [the Dog Whisperer's] advice by "bribing" and "encouraging" the dog to enter and relax (and remain) in the crate by using their "calm assertive" energies.
I've got to get me some of that calm-assertive west-coast juice, because getting Bifteck (the puppy) to stay in his crate has proven difficult, if not impossible. The best that I seem to be able to do is to open all of the doors, and let him wander in and out of the crate. If I close the doors, he just freaks out on me. Of course, the book recommends that you "never try to crate an excited dog". But, what do you do when a "calm relaxed" dog becomes excited when he goes near the crate?
So far, my only hope is that Bifteck will start to relax in the crate. So I'm following the program of offering bribes and praise when he enters and settles into the crate. Maybe by the time he is 12 weeks old or so, he'll be more comfortable in there, and I can start to take down the maze of baby gates that my apartment has become.