Board & Train: March 23

Board & Train: March 14

Incremental Crating

Goal: my goal with Cash when he is incrementally crated is to break any stress or anxiety he has, and his crate starts being a place of peace and relaxation. However, I do not see any need to seclude or separate him as he needs to work through his surroundings and I do not feel that having other dogs around him is over-facing him at all.

Day 1: he was brought in and crated. He started out quite for a couple of minutes and then went full out barking. I told him to knock it off one time, and ever after that he has been fine. There are other dogs walking about, playing, etc., and he has not been a challenge. Each day I will work on this behavior as most importantly we want him to stay quiet when he is crated with you. As long as someone is diligent and DOES NOT GIVE IN, there is no reason why very quickly the barking should stop. The more he is crated under different circumstances, the faster this should break. 

Day 2: I am not personally having any challenges with Cash in the crate - around other dogs in or out of crate or myself walking around. If he barks while it is with you, his thought process is that behavior gets him what he wants and I would tell him to "knock it off" and be diligent about crating incrementally - especially times that are challenging (counter surfing when serving food, obsessively playing with the other dog, etc). I am not having a struggle with him and he seems to do quite well in the crate here. 

Calling his Name/Focus & Engagement

Goal: when you call his name ONE TIME, he should respond. He should look at you and wait for his next cue. There is no reason why you should need to lure or bribe him before he looks. This is a value building challenge with the human vs. the fun reinforcement of another dog. We start WITHOUT a dog distraction to build value, and then start adding in distractions. These sessions will be videoed as I want to make sure we are on the same page. Again, you need to build value with yourself and this should be done at home. My guess is his obsession with Cooper will calm down as well, he is just being a puppy right now and I would use the crate management to your advantage if his constant interaction with the other dog is an annoyance (exactly what I do here). 

Your best bet to see results with this drill (and in a real life scenario in your home) is to pull Cash aside (without distractions, indoors Cooper) and have him on leash and stand there. Put treats within 3-5 feet of you and do not say anything. When he remains engaged (eye contact at you - not the food), run over to the dish and reward! This will start teaching him you have access. As he is consistently remaining engaged, start reducing the reinforcer. Feed 1, feed 2, and on the 3rd, just praise. Then restart the cycle. I would probably do this for about 3 minutes. This is how you build focus and engagement and value with your puppy or dog. 

When you introduce the other dog, start feeding generously at first with food on your body. Then, as he is understanding and remaining can reduce. Do not try to move too fast. Build a strong foundation. If he remains interacted with you, and not the other dog, REWARD! That is what you want him to do...leaving the dog alone. When the drill is over, put him in his crate. I would do this every single time so you build reinforcement history. 

Then, we need to work on offering an alternative for leaving the dog alone - another place of value or holding a stay (or sending to a bed or mat)....

In my opinion, beyond asking a dog to just "stay" is giving them a nice alternative of a specific place to stay (sending to a mat or bed). Crates are great in the beginning because they provide boundaries so the dog cannot self reinforce by getting up. Sending to a mat or a bed while it does not have walls, it is still a placemat. It is sort of like putting a small carpet down for a child to sit on during story time at school - it gets them to stay put in their specific area. It provides the same for a dog. It takes impulse control to stay put and sit still. It takes practice.

While I would still recommend crating Cash at this stage, it will be best to start working on sending him to a mat, couch, bed, etc. so he can build value for staying somewhere without being locked in his crate. 

He does not yet have a "down" which would be the end result - wanting him to lay down, so that is something separate to work on. Knowing this, I will also work him on this behavior as it is one of the foundational behaviors. 


Before you begin training, it is important to understand the foundation to your training should be engagement and relationship. Teaching behaviors and cues is a lot easier when a dog is willing and enthusiastic to participate with you. Your training should be force-free with a strong focus on foundational skills.

  • Keep your expectations fair and realistic.
  • Unpredictability is probably the worst trait a dog owner can possess.
  • If you expect something, then expect it every time you ask for it.
  • Think about treats in terms of ‘units of a reward’ for effort.
  • Remember repetition, NOT duration. Five 1-minutes sessions can be better than one 5-minute session.
  • Mark for action, feed for position.
  • Name a perfect behavior, not an imperfect behavior. Get the quality you want before you tell the dog what it is called.
  • Work on generalization to work on getting the behavior to happen in a variety of environments and situations.
  • The challenge level should always be that in which your dog can succeed.

Ask your dog what they are capable of doing. Over-facing our dogs by putting demands on them that they cannot possibly meet will not only mean we make no progress towards our training goals, but it will erode a dog’s confidence and enjoyment of working with us.

Perfection is not a permanent condition. The more criteria, the more maintenance.

It is important to think about the behavior you are training and the tools you may need. Are you "marking" for the behavior and feeding for position? Are you working a release and can utilize tugging when your dog gets up?

What motivates your dog?

  1. Food (what is the least your puppy or dog will work for?)
  2. Toys!
  3. Verbal Praise
  4. Petting

In what order are your rewards most valuable?

  • What does the dog like least?
  • What does the dog like most?
  • What types of behaviors require certain rewards? Ex. placement of rewards and marking for position, calm behaviors vs. high drive
  • What environment are you training in which may require a more valuable reward or motivator?


Recommended Skills for Training to Start With:

  • Housebreaking (generally for new puppies)
  • Crate training/waiting at a crate door, house door, gate door
  • Addressing separation anxiety, attachment and independence/confidence
  • Exposure to noises and the real world/surface exposure
  • Touch sensitivity & collar grabs
  • Marker word/clicker training
  • Learning name, focus, engagement
  • Addressing barking
  • Recall or "come" 
  • Impulse control/leave it
  • Resource guarding/trading objects/"give"
  • Sits & downs
  • Release cues
  • Hand touches & touching objects
  • Heeling & walking
  • Stay
  • Shaping (sending to bed/mat)
  • Socialization
  • Addressing jumping
  • Addressing play biting/mouthing
  • Proofing

Owner's Requested Skills:

*Please note some of the skills requested may require additional skills or behaviors BEFORE achieving a specific skill or behavior requested

  •  Excessive play with other household dog
  • Rough play with daughter
  • Mouthing


Keep in mind when you are teaching a behavior, skill, or cue  you must build upon that skill adding elements in such as:

  1. Distance - how far away can you be and ask for that behavior?
  2. Distractions - can your dog perform the same skill outside in a public park as in your indoor kitchen?
  3. Duration - how long will your dog hold a sit, a down, or a stay?

BEFORE ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS ARE ADDED, YOU FIRST WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GREAT FOUNDATION OF THAT BEHAVIOR! If your dog cannot sit in the kitchen with no distractions, do not expect to take your dog outside and get a reliable sit.

How to mark behaviors you want:

In the initial stages you may need to have a collar/harness with a 4-6ft leash attached to your puppy or dog so they do not wander. You can hold the leash or just step on it.

Once you have a strong foundation with the behaviors in a low-key environment you can start building upon the behavior by asking for a longer duration of focus, moving food off your body, reducing the reinforcer, requiring eye contact (not staring at the reward), putting distance between you and the dog, and eventually moving into environments with increased distractions (controlled and not controlled).

In order to communicate with your dog when they are doing something you like or are asking for you will want to have a "marker word" or clicker. If you do not have a clicker you can use the word "yes."

Initially you are just "charging the click" to allow your puppy or dog to start associating your marker with the reward which is to follow. As your dog progresses you can always mark the behavior, but you can reduce your reinforcers (you do not have to give a treat every time).



Skill: Marker Word = YES! (or a clicker)
Exercise: Name Game

Criteria: Call your dog’s name, when they look mark YES and reward
Progression: Offered focus (call if needed) but reward for paying attention. If your dog looks away to sniff, you can call their name and reward for looking at you. Young puppies may only glance up for a hot second...don't forget to reward that! 
*Remember you do not ALWAYS need to use food - think about other types of rewards



How does your dog know when it is "ok" to move out of a cue or behavior?


  1. Dog is in crate (chooses to, or lured in at first)
  2. Door closes on dog
  3. The reward or motivator is coming out of the crate
  4. If the dog tries to bolt or barge out, the dog loses access to that reward and the door simply closes quickly
  5. Very quickly a dog will start catching on to the behaviors that are linked together; dog holds position (even for a second) and is released out!
  6. Repeat

There are many scenarios where a release cue is important. For example: a start-line stay on the agility field. 

Wanting to work one dog, while the other stays until it is released. 

While the Dalmatian is released and worked, the other dog is to stay put until she gets released and it is her turn. 


It's amazing how much can be learned by both human and dog hardly saying anything at all. I can go through an entire training session with my dogs, or my horse, or donkeys without saying many words but rather just praising and reinforcing what I like. 

I want my animals to think for themselves and do things with enthusiasm because they want to, not because they are forced to.

One reason I am a huge advocate of crate training (beyond potty training, confidence building, or ruling out anxiety) is because it is the foundation of my release cue

Time out of the crate or time spent interacting with us is rewarding. Anything that a dog wants can be used as a motivator. A dog will do what works for them to achieve that motivator and it is up to us to set boundaries and be consistent with our messages. Many times we are reinforcing things we do not like and we do not even know it!

"Ok" simply means you are free to move.

Very quick durations to start. No distractions that may cause the dog to get up early. You are with the dog so there is not much distance in between you. 


Impulse Control

If our dog shows a sense of self control, generally we will then allow them a reward or access to their motivator. .

  • a dog sits and waits at the door, the door opens (gains access to the outdoors!)
  • a dog keeps all four paws on the floor, we reach down to pet it (gains access to praise!)
  • a dog holds position when the food bowl is placed on the floor, we release and it eats (gains access to food!)

There was a time when my clumsy self knocked an entire bottle of ibuprofen off my counter and every single pill fell onto the floor. Imagine how dangerous that scenario could be for the dog that has no impulse control and as soon as something falls...well, eats it. 

Had it not been for this specific drill, perhaps that day would have went differently. My dogs understand they need to exhibit self control. When they want to access something they need to engage with me and make eye contact for a release that it is "ok" to move. 

Carrying a plate of food? Kids carrying a stuffed animal or dragging a blanket? A puppy or dog needs to understand that in order to get what they want they should show some patience. Now, of course, we do want to eliminate temptation when a dog is learning as we want them to succeed as many times as possible. 

However, as we teach these behaviors consistently we no longer have to view the behavior as a "problem" or challenge. 

Sits & Downs

If you want your dog to sit politely while company enters the door or a stranger greets you in the streets...first you need a strong sit! 

Build strong foundational behaviors. Does your dog understand sit only when you lure a cookie in front of its face? Or can you spin around in circles with your back facing and cue your dog to "sit?" 

A lot of times the behavior is: owner standing straight in front of me lifting up their hand and that posture and signal means to sit. Perhaps your dog does not understand the word itself.

If you want to send your dog to its bed and down, first you need a reliable down. 

Do your motions trigger your dog to get up and move? Can you walk a fill circle around your dog while they remain in a down? Will your dog hold a down while you throw a steak on the floor?

A large part of the foundational skills of behaviors such as sit and down are proofing those behaviors. 

Proofing: the final step in training your dog any new behavior. It involves practicing behaviors in a variety of situations with different levels of distractions

In home lesson

While training foundational behaviors will certainly help your dog with overall manners (what you have been paying for sending your dog to daycare), engagement and household structure/rules, the specific challenges you are dealing with within your home will not be extinguished from teaching your dog "it's your choice" (the treats on the pile one the floor), how to sit, how to down, etc. Behaviors that take place need to be directly addressed and it HELPS when your dog has foundational behaviors to help teach the skills the end result relies on. 

All of the foundational drills your dog has learned lead into a progression which makes them applicable to events that may happen in your home. For example:

The dog showing impulse control backed up from the pile of treats on the floor is the VERY FOUNDATIONAL BEHAVIOR which begins impulse control. Eventually, if you knock a bag of M&Ms off your counter your dog should learn NOT to go after them, but to rather wait and make eye contact waiting for your cue. Treats on the floor is only the tip of the iceberg. The foundational drills all progress into something much beyond what they initially seem. 

  • Cash's current behavior interacting with Cooper, in my opinion is 100% normal (it is playful). It is the annoyance it is causing you which leads to wanting change
  • Sending your dog away to daycare or board and train may help exhaust your dog mentally and physically, but it is not going to make an adjustment on the behavior in your home. The only thing it is doing is preventing it from happening in your household because the dog is not physically home. Rather, the dog is at daycare, interacting very similarly with other dogs, reinforcing the interaction and the VALUE for other dogs. It is the work you put in at home (focus and engagement) which will start getting the dog to respond better to you vs. another dog.
  • You have exhausted using Cash's name over and over in the presence of distraction (the other dog). It does not mean anything. If it did, he would look at you (with or without a treat) as he would understand what it means. You first need him to understand his name with zero distractions, and then start reducing reinforcers (less treats) with no distractions. Then, you can slowly add in distractions and reinforcers (not a dog, that is too much), and call his name and reward for looking at you. Bribing and luring him off by trying to redirect him with a treat has only taught him that he can teach you to "show him the money" before doing anything. 
  • Once you redirect him, his foundational behaviors are not strong enough (asking him to down and stay) for him to remain redirected and not immediately going back towards the other dog
  • MY ADVICE IS TO INTERVENE WHEN YOU SEE HIM EVEN LOOKING (STALKING) AND/OR INQUIRING ABOUT STARTING TO INTERACT WITH THE OTHER DOG. If you try to intervene to prevent it from happening and he continues to do it, he needs to be put away. This will prevent it from happening. 
  • If you immediately let the other dog in the house and he goes after him, it has become a pattern and you need to break it. Leash Cash so he does not have the ability to go after Cooper. You can reinforce while he is on leash for his attention. This will build value for you over the other dog. 
  • The other suggestion is negative reinforcement (taking something away from the dog that it wants). When he is interacting, if you call his name and he does not respond you need to go over and grab him nicely by the collar and redirect to the crate
  • Start incrementally crating him every single day, while you are home to break the obnoxious barking so he develops confidence and independence away from you. If his whines, pull the sheet down. LET HIM WORK THROUGH IT. If you do this every single day, it will stop and he will learn how to relax. He needs to figure it out though. This is puppy 101 that he should drive into the crate, lay down, remain there and when he is ready to come out waiting for a release (there is a video above)
  • Because he is going to associate you moving towards him with being put in the crate, it is imperative collar grabs are worked on. Grab underneath or to the side of his head when grabbing his collar (never over the top), and come in with a treat at the same time. 
  • When Cash goes after your daughter is it important she does not feed into the behavior (making nose, moving, even if negative is feeding the behavior). If she calmly redirects him to his crate (or ignores entirely, acts like a statue) the behavior should eventually stop because there is no value.
  • In the short time I was with Cash yesterday it is very obvious he really does not care if attention is good or bad (yelling, clapping, etc)...for this particular dog it does not change him. Some dogs it does - with really does not matter. He just knows he can get away with not listening, which is why I am suggesting negative reinforcement. If the kids are not listening and they are playing a handheld game and you take it away, they quickly start to learn the consequences of their choices because you removed something of value.