Releasing From the Crate/Car

Dog laying down in a crate inside a car

When you arrive, you open the door and you keep her in the crate for a moment. With any sign of relaxation, you touch the crate lock and rest your hand there. If she gets jazzed up, you remove your hand. As soon as there’s any sign of less excitement, you touch the lock and rest your hand there. You repeat this as needed until you can touch the lock without her getting jazzed. Then…

…you unlock but keep the door closed. Any sign of jazzing up, you lock and remove your hand and repeat until you can unlock without the excitement. 

See how that game goes? 

There’s no verbal cue here – we’re just showing her that her calm behaviour gets her closer to her goal of escape. 😉  No punishment or “ah ah” or “NO” or anything like that – she’ll need quiet to focus on your behaviour and her results. 

The next criteria are things like:

  • open the door 1″
  • open the door 2″
  • open the door halfway
  • open the door fully

…all without jazzing up and bolting out. You have to be ready to catch her before she gets out (without slamming the door on her paws or face, of course) if she fails… She goes back in and you start again. 

It gets better/easier over time and should absolutely be practiced in a safe environment first, on leash. 

Lastly, you open the door fully when she’s calm, you wait a second or two, then you give a cue (“okay”) and you’re ready with your food to do an immediate food scatter when she hops out. Scatter 10~ pieces at your feet and this pattern will stick – she will jump out and check the ground at your feet. 

Eventually, instead of a food scatter, you ask for a sit when she jumps out and reward that really well. This is the new pattern and the terminal goal.