Okay so the video clip below is not my best geek work, but it gives you the idea of what I want to show.
The whole routine just cracks me up. I am sure you guys will get a kick out if too. So, here’s the deal. When I go out to train I take both my young dogs Encore and Feature with me. I have one dog wait on the table as I work the other, then I swap dogs. That is it. It is a game that is functional for me as it allows me to spend quality time training rather than having to stop, go into the house and get another dog out yada-yada-yada. I just train-swap-train-swap etc, then move on with my life (or lately my blog:)).
So I train away, and where ever I may end up with the last dog on the floor, I send that one to the table. As that dog is on route I release the one that is on the table. I don’t know why this makes me laugh but it does. It is like they are tag team wrestlers and one dog flies out of their corner to work and the other one flies back to watch. I wonder what the two dogs are thinking? Both are quite happy to do as I ask. I think Feature may drive a bit harder to the table to sit her turn out as I think she gets a kick out of watching Encore, where Encore isn’t quite as enthused to take up her post on the table.
My point of showing this clip is, one, it just is too funny and two, I wanted you all to know that, if you have multiple dogs, it is possible to work one in the presence of the other without the one that is watching barking it’s head off, or constantly interrupting your session with the other dog. I was hoping you could hear the audio, but crap, if it wasn’t turned off right up until the very end, when I suddenly realized it and switched it on. What I wanted to you to hear (but you can see it) is that my dogs do not bark as they wait their turn to run. Encore has been known to scream (it really is just that) while she is working but knows not to make a peep while waiting on the table. Feature, while on the table, shakes her toy as if the poor thing had something to do with her banishment to the bench, but even throughout all of that, she too knows not to bark while she waits.
This really ties in nicely with what I wrote about yesterday. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. I do not allow my young puppies to rehearse barking while another dog works. So I don’t allow them to watch until they can control themselves. If you have worked through all of the stages of Crate Games (as outlined pretty plainly in the DVD and the online edition) this sort of thing is actually pretty easy. Feature started watching from the time she was just 4 months old. Dogs are far less likely to bark in their crates while other dogs are working, if the crate door is open. The closed door is a restriction, just as if the dog was tied to a fence. No matter what, there is no way the dog is going to get a chance to get in on the fun, until you come back to get him. He has no CHOICE. You are showing the dog something he really VALUES and then preventing him having access to it. It is a great way to build drive and one that schutzhund trainers utilize with great success to increase enthusiasm for bite work. They have someone hold the dog back all the while revving him up as the ‘victim’ runs away. This allows the dog to go nuts before they spring him loose. Wow, all of the opposition pulling really gets a dog charged up!
When you build up the dog’s understanding of Crate Games to the point he will stay in the crate with the door open, you have taken away the imposed restriction. It is now the dog’s CHOICE to stay in the crate (with an open door), rather than the dog being FORCED to stay in (with it closed). Dog’s, like all of us, do much better when they feel like they are have a vote in what goes on in their life. Through Crate Games you create self control so the dog thinks he is doing exactly what HE wants to do while he is doing exactly what YOU want him to do. It is a win-win all around!
Today I am grateful for my geek friend Vince. I can’t tell you where I would be without his help with all of this — of course I get ‘help’, you didn’t think I was really this geekafied did you?
2019 Update: There’s a new blog post with lots of tips on training your dog to “Wait, Watch, Work“.