the Kennel Command

The kennel command, which some people refer to as 'place', is a behavior that we teach in which the dog moves away from you to a specified location, and is required to remain there until you a) release him, or b) give him another command.

With young dogs we use this to teach them the concept of remaining in one place, which we then layer on a more formal Stay command down the road. 

Teaching the Kennel Command

Introduction to Kennel, Here/Sit

  • Step 1: Walk your dog up to a target (dog bed, mat, or other clearly defined item that is comfortable to stand or sit on.) Use leash pressure to guide them onto the target. As soon as they get on, continue walking to guide them off. Stop when they are showing they will get on and off the item readily.  Practice on different targets, just make sure that the 'kennel' target is clearly defined. 
  • Step 2: Once the dog is onto the target without needing any leash pressure guidance, Repeat Step 1 except now you add the command "Kennel" as the dog is getting onto the object. Require all four feet to be on the item before letting the dog get off. As you guide the dog off the item with the leash, give the "OK" release command. Repeat until your dog is moving onto kennel with the command and little leash pressure, and moving off of kennel with the release command and little leash pressure. You can begin to increase duration by waiting to give the OK release command. Goal for this week is 10 seconds.
  • Step 3: Repeat Step 2 but now, as all four paws hit the kennel area, Say 'HERE' while stepping behind so that you are at 6 o'clock and your dog is at 12 o'clock. While your dog is still in motion turning toward you, say 'Sit'. The momentum will help prevent the dog from getting stuck. Refrain from releasing the dog right away. Wait for eye contact, and when you get that either use your Reward Marker (yes or click) or the OK release. We are going to increase duration by waiting longer to give them the OK command. Remember, the goal for the week is 10 seconds. Continue to practice this on different defined 'kennel' areas. 

VIDEO PLAYLIST: Ozzie Learning Kennel

VIDEO: Teaching Kennel

VIDEO: Kennel Here Sit

Increasing Duration and Distance

  • Begin working on the distance you send your dog to Kennel from as well as how far you step back once they are on Kennel. 
  • Increase the duration the dog is on Kennel as well, and reward the dog while he's in the behavior. (Ie after you step back, you can step in to feed the dog while he's still on the kennel board.)
  • Increase the distance you send the dog to kennel from starting at just 1 foot away. Increase by 1 foot each day which will bring you to 6' by the end of the week. Likewise, after you send your dog to Kennel, you will step back the same distance you sent him from, starting at 1 foot and reaching 6 feet by the end of the week. 
  • Your dog should not leave the Kennel until he is either released ('OK' or your reward marker: yes or clicker), or you give him another command. If at any time the dog steps off kennel, or attempts to, swoop in and put him back up there. DO NOT repeat the command. He owes you the balance of the exercise (if you were working on 20 second kennel and he broke at 15 seconds, continue for 5 more seconds.)
  • Work up to 60 seconds at 6' by adding a foot and 10 seconds per day.
  • Practice this approximately 5 times per day. 
  • Do not increase distance/duration until he is successful at least 80% of the time at your current distance/length of time. 
  • Make sure you have control of the leash.

Video: Working on Duration

Handler Movement as Distraction

  • Same work as the previous exercise except you can vary the distance and duration, as well as become a distraction yourself by moving around while still holding the leash. You can walk back and forth, around, side to side.
  • Make sure to still have control of the leash in order to correct your dog if they break the command.
  • You may still use food and reward while the dog is in behavior. 

Moving Around the Table / Adding Distractions

  • Begin moving around the the kennel board, one step at a time in any direction, while calling the dog to you; 'Here, Sit'
  • Remember, it's your dog's job to move to you, not you to them.