14 Sep It all comes back to the crate
Delilah is having arousal issues when my husband comes home from being out. As soon as she hears the key turning to unlock the door, she starts making this high pitch anxious bark and runs to find Judah, the other female dog in our home, and then proceeds to stare her down or bully her. Herding dogs can have some complex behavioural problems and Delilah is no exception. I’m definitely at fault for being slack with her training. With Tyson’s reactivity, I’ve always put Delilah’s training on the backburner. But this behaviour needs to be curbed; it’s annoying and we have tenants. So what can be done?
My goal is that whenever my husband comes home, Delilah runs to the crate and waits there for her treat.
The first thing I want to try is to classically condition Delilah that the opening of the door is a good thing. Simply put, classical conditioning helps your dog form positive associations with all sorts of stimuli. Because I want Delilah to form a positive association with the door being opened, I’m going to click and treat the second my husband puts the key in the door. Setups are important here because I need to have her on leash, with treat ready. I want to catch her before she has a chance to bark and charge at the door or go look for Judah. I make sure Bryan texts me before he comes in so I am ready.
Step 1: Have Delilah on a leash, (maybe a haltie/gentle leader). I need to have my treats ready and my clicker.
Step 2: Have someone outside my house ready to put the key in the door.
Step 3: The second the key goes into the door, click and treat.
Step 4: Practice this for several sessions until I can drop the leash and when Delilah hears the key opening the door, she immediately runs to me to get her treat.
Now I want to encourage Delilah to go into her crate when she hears the key.
Step 1. Following Susan Garrett’s crate games program, Delilah needs to learn to love her crate. This wonderful video have several steps to teach dogs to go to their crate and stay there until released. After completing this video Delilah should run to her crate when I give her the ‘Kennel up’ cue
Step 2. With Delilah on leash and the crate very close by, I have someone unlock the door. Then I cue her to ‘Kennel up’. When she goes in, she gets rewarded
Step 3. Continue to practice the setups and move the crate farther away from the door.
Goal: Delilah skips the cue and runs to the crate when she hears the key unlock. Jackpot!