Keep putting money in the bank!

There are four stages of learning:

  1. Skill acquisition 
  2. Fluency 
  3. Generalisation 
  4. Maintenance 

You’ve worked through the first two steps in this program, but there’s more to it!  

Generalisation will start to happen as you practice this skill with more/different distractions and in various environments (the car, chez friends or family, workplace, veterinary clinic). You may need to start at an earlier point, even the beginning, but the process has the potential of moving faster when generalising because your dog has already done it once.  

Some dogs do not generalise as easily or quickly, so don’t get discouraged if that is your dog – just work through the process at their pace! 

Maintenance is the final step – this one is surprisingly easy, but few people dedicate themselves to it. All this step involves is maintaining the behaviour – randomly reinforcing your dog for being in the crate, and always associating the space with great things, like food, toys, and relaxation.  

Money in the bank. When we associate great things with the crate, we put money in our dog’s bank. Let’s say… $1.00 each time they are reinforced in that space. When we use it for punishment or the dog has a negative experience in the crate, it can be a withdrawal of $5.00, $10.00, or even $50.00 depending on how traumatic the dog perceives the event to be. Aim to keep that balance high and avoid ever approaching overdraft!