I had a little bit of trouble

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H.M. Murdock

I had a little bit of trouble with my 4-month-old pit mix, but I corrected it within a week. This is really the first dog I’ve “trained,” but is the second pit mix I’ve had.

As far as being impossible to kennel train… this is just not true. I haven’t had trouble with the kennel at all since I figured out what little Uly’s problem was with the whole thing. If someone says it’s impossible to train a dog to _____, then they’re either expecting too much, or they’re doing it wrong.

In my case, Uly viewed it as me “leaving” him (seperation anxiety), for a few reasons. First, I wasn’t rewarding him properly. I only rewarded him if he was in there for a little bit and started getting upset. Sort of like when a little child has a skinned knee and you can only make it better after the fact. This isn’t true with a dog; you have to create a positive situation from the start so that they not only know you expect it, they also begin to associate your expectations with happiness on their own part. When I started rewarding him (whether with his favorite toy, a treat, a chew, etc.) either as soon as he was in the kennel or while he was just going in, it became much easier from beginning to end. Second, I wasn’t keeping him entertained! This is a huge factor for such a high-energy dog. Puzzle toys are something I’m looking into, but as it stands, he stays pretty satisfied for short periods of time with a few toys. I’m waiting to have the spare money to provide him with some properly time-consuming things, and as his training progresses he is also spending more and more time outside the kennel which in turn minimizes some of the trouble. Third, I wasn’t creating a relaxing atmosphere. Even if he can have fun and is rewarded when he goes in while I can’t give him my full attention (a given when you have a 3-year-old boy who has all the same qualities of a pit when it comes to stubbornness and energy), he still needs to view it as a place he can go to any time. Every now and then dinner or breakfast time take place in the kennel with the door open, or I’ll just drop a treat or toy in when I walk by while he isn’t looking, etc.

With that said, I will now say this based on observation with other dogs: with lower-energy breeds, it’s easier to kennel train them in some part perhaps because they have different traits. Perhaps they don’t crave as much attention as pits, or they don’t have the ability to run you into the ground on a leashed run and still have enough to bounce off the walls for a few hours. It’s like giving a kid a really caffeinated drink and then being confused when they drive you insane in the car afterwards. Pits have energy and they love expending that energy on and with their families. With my own pit, I’ve seen markedly better reactions to the kennel and kennel training when I get him a little worn out. Which works just fine for me; by the time I have a 4-month-old pit mix puppy and a 3-year-old boy tired out enough to chill, I’m ready for a nap. 😉


Note: Being a newcomer to structured training, this post is happily subject to criticism. I’m learning too!