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Hey all,

So since we got our puppy I have come across an observation with all the puppy training research I have been doing, and felt I would bring it up and see what everyone else thinks.

I have noticed a contradiction within the more recent training community, the positive training one. You see people are starting to say that the whole wolf pack training method, is wrong, and with good reason. One being that the alpha was improperly observed in the past. And two, they believe that our current k9 friends are far removed from the wolf pack, so that certain more heavy handed training methods are wrong to use on dogs because the k9 is not as much of a relative to the wolf anymore, and that these methods are ineffective.

This is where the contradiction comes in. Within this same community, I hear these same people rave about crate training, and talk about how dogs are natural den animals so they prefer their crates. This however is a view that has been carried over from the wolf pack training mentality.
However if the k9 is so far removed from the wolfpack, why is this excuse still used for justifying crate usage?

I do not believe crates are wrong or right. Or that heavy handed training is better than positive training. I just find it odd that people use this excuse to justify crate training, be it wrong or right. Your thoughts?

Thanks,
-D
 

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I have also come across this but never gave it any thought. I just crated Sam since he was a puppy since I crated our previous dog too.
The vet seems to like it if they behave.
Our previous dog a German Shepard was a natural digger, what he was digging for? Could it be that he was trying to dig a den?
I saw a short documentary on wolves that got used to living close to humans and those wolfs never dug deep dens either.

I should mention from a previous post, I came to learn that it depends on the circumstance. Crating is not absolutely necessary for everyone.
 

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I think people need to be very careful making gross generalizations based off of wolf pack behavior. You are rights--a lot of the original wolf research was improperly done: they observed the wolves in unnatural habitats--zoos--and the "pack" was composed of wolves from all over the place. No wonder there was infighting and dominance rituals! :)

That being said--some wolf behavior might hold true for dogs and some might not. So I consider it less of a contradiction, and more of an indication that the dog training community is continuing to evolve, as is our understanding of dogs. Most of the issue comes from, I think, the more aggressive training methods derived from dominance theory, such as alpha rolls. Also, things like eating before your dog, never letting your dog out the door before you, not letting your dog on the bed, etc., are coming to be considered unnecessary, while some things can even be dangerous (the average layperson, for example, trying some of the more aggressive techniques of Cesar Millan on a reactive dog). As for the crate thing--to me it was less about a den and more about keeping the dog safe when I could not be there to keep on eye on him. I can't decide if he thinks it's a den, or if it's just someplace where he sleeps sometimes (along with the floor, the couch, the car, his mat, and the bed!).

Most of this behavioral research is not new, but it apparently takes, on average, 20 years for knowledge to reach the general public. I will also say, "To each his own," on the way a person chooses to train their dog, as long as it is not overly harsh or damaging to the animal. That being said, I lean on the side that does not utilize dominance theory in my training, and Jasper and I have done well. But I know folks that have done well that do use dominance theory! ;D Keep reading up on this stuff--it's fascinating, and always good to know what the different training paradigms are, especially when you're trying to find a trainer or obedience class.

Edit to mention: What I forgot to make clear is that I think that parts of dominance theory might be right, and parts might be wrong. I don't consider it an all-or-nothing kind of deal.
 

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9:00 pm is my normal bed time. Bailey my 3-year-old male Vizsla stares at me at 9:05pm.

He gives me that "DAD! It's bedtime." Look

I head back to the bedroom and he dives into his crate and waits for me to lock the door. It is his den. It is his space. He is safe to sleep and not be disturbed by cats or anything else.

added: Thinking about it tonight, he also does not have to "guard" the house, as he is only "responsible" for his small crate. Less pressure on him to protect the area while he sleeps.

Crates are wonderful for a dog who views it as a safe haven.

Bailey sleeps the night away and as I go to work at 4:30am, my wife tells me Bailey finally wants out at about 10am.

So I only know what I observe. He likes the crate. It is his space. Nothing negative ever happens in his crate.

Chloe, our 4-year-old female Vizsla likes hers but we have no lock on her door. She comes and goes as she pleases but still sleeps in it every night.

If that is "crate training," then Bailey and Chloe have self taught themselves.

DK, Read the book "Merle's Door" and get back to me on what you think.

Rod a.k.a. redbirddog
http://redbirddog.blogspot.com
 

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dk said:
Hey all,

So since we got our puppy I have come across an observation with all the puppy training research I have been doing, and felt I would bring it up and see what everyone else thinks.

I have noticed a contradiction within the more recent training community, the positive training one. You see people are starting to say that the whole wolf pack training method, is wrong, and with good reason. One being that the alpha was improperly observed in the past. And two, they believe that our current k9 friends are far removed from the wolf pack, so that certain more heavy handed training methods are wrong to use on dogs because the k9 is not as much of a relative to the wolf anymore, and that these methods are ineffective.

This is where the contradiction comes in. Within this same community, I hear these same people rave about crate training, and talk about how dogs are natural den animals so they prefer their crates. This however is a view that has been carried over from the wolf pack training mentality.
However if the k9 is so far removed from the wolfpack, why is this excuse still used for justifying crate usage?

I do not believe crates are wrong or right. Or that heavy handed training is better than positive training. I just find it odd that people use this excuse to justify crate training, be it wrong or right. Your thoughts?

Thanks,
-D
I like the way you think.
You'll find that every last aspect of raising a dog will have a dozen different opinions.
The only correct answer is the one that works for you and your dog.
 

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I started out believing the wolf pack ideas we probably right. Then the first time the group I was training with went for an off leash walk I was looking forward to the opportunity to watch some pack behaviour..... I was disappointed when I didn't see anything that resembled an alpha dog or sorting out of dominance. Then some of our friends were complaining that when they moved into a house together, their two dogs "wouldn't sort out who was boss" and kept changing. So then when I read some work on how dogs are not really wolves anymore, it made sense to me. So I guess I am going with the theory that fits with my observations, however I do know that two people can see the same thing happen and have two different explanations for it!

As far as the den thing, even our cat likes her bed and if we put her carrier on the floor she will choose to spend time in there. I don't think it's just wolves that have dens!
 

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dk said:
You see people are starting to say that the whole wolf pack training method, is wrong, and with good reason. One being that the alpha was improperly observed in the past. And two, they believe that our current k9 friends are far removed from the wolf pack, so that certain more heavy handed training methods are wrong to use on dogs because the k9 is not as much of a relative to the wolf anymore, and that these methods are ineffective.
My thoughts - the comment above is bequeathed by weak hearted individuals who have never really trained a dog for anything other then being a house pet. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the responses all. Its good to hear everyone's thoughts on it. The conclusion I hear from everyone here is basically the same is mine. Train how you want to train. Not all methods are right or wrong for everyone. I think that training dogs is a very fascinating subject as they are very amazing creatures that we have bonded so closely with.

@ RedbirdDog, That book looks interesting. I Will take a gander at it.

@ mercutio & redbirddog: far as your crating experience goes. Do you think your pets love of their kennels was a natural love? or one that was taught to them by you?

Now for the people here on this forum, Ecollars do not seem to be hated. However my observation of all this was stemmed by the hate I have seen for things like Ecollars.
With the training of my other dog we found She was very hard headed and has a massive prey drive even though she is a small 22lb dog… We like to hike, and keep our dogs off leash, in order to do this with our other dog we had to use an Ecollar.
With this collar I noticed a lot of judgmental eyes, and then even shows like “its me or the dog” have shown these collars as the proverbial devil... This clearly put me a bit on the defensive…But it also made me realize that ecollars in my eyes, are no more harsh then a crate. That is were I found the contradiction within the positive training community (or at least I view it as one)
As from my observation and comparison to the ecollar…A crate most dogs are very hesitant of and do not like at all at first. Then they learn to like/tolerate them. This I found was the same with the ecollars, at first, the experience is by far not their favorite, but then they learn that it allows them the freedom to run around off leash, which I would think they enjoy more. This is similar to crates, in that the negative allows them to have a positive, a safe place to sleep and call their own.

Anyways, im really not trying to turn this into a negative thing about crates or anything like that. I do believe that people have to choose whats right for them and how to train their dog, and that there is no one right way. I just wanted to start a discussion on this train of thought.

Thanks for your thoughts!
-D
 

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Hi Dk,
With my 7 month old puppy, he definitely grew to like the crate over time. We had to do a very compressed crate training schedule since I didnt have time off work (I do not recommend) so I think I imposed him staying in the crate for too long at first. With time, he's grown to love it. Similar to what redbirddog posted, our dog starts shutting off at about 10pm and goes back and forth from the crate to the living room in a, "you guys coming?" fashion. Or if he's had a really good day, he simply puts himself to bed. we always laugh when that happens. For such an outgoing velcro dog to get up and put himself in his crate is so funny. if we start laughing hard, he comes back out to make sure he isn't missing out on the fun. They're so hilarious.

A few other things I've enjoyed about the crate: piece of mind that nothing has been destroyed; having it serve as a reset button-- when Miles starts acting out, I pick him up and place him in the crate and when I take him out a few minutes later, it's like his demons are out. Interestingly, the times we haven't crated him and we've left and come back, he seems to be anxious to have free reign. When he's crated and we come back, it always looks like he's lying there peacefully or snoozing. He also likes going in there when I vacuum.
 

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Post by fellow Vizsla Blogger about crate training pups.

http://varazsvizslas.blogspot.com/2011/08/crate-expectations.html

Crate expectations
I've been "playing" Susan Garrett's Crate Games with the puppies so that they learn to love their crates. In addition, they are now getting fed their meals in their crates so that the crate has become a very positive place to be. Oh, I forgot to mention that they have been sleeping along in their crates for almost 1 week now. Mind you, the crates are stacked side by side but still, they don't have the warmth of another body under or over them for placation,

Anyway, this 'game" (i.e., training) is clearly making a difference because when the food bowls appear at meal time, they now eagerly clamber into a crate with no command. Miss Red, Green (Bentley) and Mr Turquoise were the quickest to learn; Miss Yellow struggled a lot but is almost on par with the others. And that's the whole point of shaping behaviour - you want the dog to make the 'choice' rather than forcing them to do something because you have reinforced the dog greatly for the behaviour. So while the cue of the food bowls wasn't too surprising, what did surprise me was when I reached to get each a little baby cookie to give them, they immediately ran inside their crate to get their reward!! The mere sound of extracting a cookie from the glass container was enough to cue them into a behaviour. Well done puppies!!!
Good luck to all you puppy folks out there. Fun times.

Rod a.k.a. redbirddog
 

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I really wish someone like redbird dog could come and convince Riley that the crate is his den. Has trained wonderfully in all areas except the crate. Have tried every method. He thinks someone is killing him if he has to go in his crate.
 

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Emily,

It could be that we have two dogs and they sleep in crates next to each other.

The other thing they both have are their own sleeping bags. These bags are in the living room, motor home, Jeep and their crates. They love being in their sleeping bags when the weather gets cooler.

http://redbirddog.blogspot.com/2009/11/sleeping-bags-for-vizslas.html

It the dog is alone and in a crate, that is like being in solitary confinement, but if he is in a comfortable jail cell next to fellow inmates, it is much better.

A TV on the Disney channel helps.

Think like Riley.

Thinking like a dog takes a lot of work and is not easy to do. I am just starting the transition.

Having a dog brain is not a bad thing. I actually prefer it.

Just some random thoughts about crates.

Enjoy the weekend

Rod
http://redbirddog.blogspot.com
 

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I love the way those sleeping bags look, Rod. Do the dogs manage to get themselves covered up without assistance, or do you need to flip the top part over them?

Willie likes to sleep underneath his afghan or blanket, especially during the winter or during a thunderstorm, but he needs my assistance to get himself covered up with those. Once covered, he keeps himself very still so as not to disrupt his coziness. I am thinking about sending for one of those sleeping bags for him. I'm sure he would love it!

Mary Ann a.k.a. mswhipple
 

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Copper didn't like being confined in his crate for the first 7 months. He had no choice and complained; mostly because he wasn't with us while crated. Now, Copper comes home and wants to rest or be left alone - Copper goes into his crate and falls to sleep. ;D He sometimes will sleep on his soft comfy bed next to the crate but, when he is tiered and wants to be left alone - he goes into the crate and lays down on the towel (which is on the plastic floor pan, which is on the tile floor). So, it's not about comfort it's about the crate! ;D
 

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Hi dk,

To answer your question about whether the animals 'learnt' to love their den or whether it was natural.... I think it was just natural instinct. Merc actually isn't crate trained, but he does have his own bed in and outside the house that he will choose to go to. When we brought him home he was on a blanket in the car and I wondered how I would teach him where his bed was. Well we put that blanket on his bed, he climbed right on and that was it. the cat has not been trained at all.... Long story but anyway she just like getting into hidey holes and her carrier must be the best one I guess because it smells like her. She only ever goes to the vet or to the boarding place in it so I'm sure she doesn't love it because it's a fun place to be!
 

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These subjects are always going to be a discussion point. But there are so many variables.

Why do I personally use a crate;
My dogs are trained to be hunting dogs. They have to travel in their crates for their own safety, and mine. I've never had to put one of my dogs on a plane, but if so, it would have to be crated. They have too accept the crate. It's non-negotiable.
My observation with 5 Vizslas over a 25 year period, 3 males and 2 females. All of them treated the crate as their space. When we're home they come and go as they please in their crates. When we're not home they are in their crates. It's their space.
The exception to the rule was Rush. He lived for 14 years and in the last few it was obvious that arthritis has gotten to him. Making him go up and down stairs seemed unnecessary, possibly bordering on cruel, so we moved his pad into an alcove next to our bedroom, and I carried him up and down the stairs most of the time.

An e-collar, used properly by the owner and introduced correctly is nothing more than an extension of the leash. Used improperly, it can ruin a dog for life in it's first use.
 
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