So I was a little later than I said I would be in getting Simi started with Crate Games, but hey, at least it happened!
Tonight I sat down and watched up to Stage 3 of the DVD, which is as far as Susan recommends you to go (at least) in your first session. That included just lots of opening the door, rewarding back and high in the crate, then closing the door. Then we did more pause between feeding and adding the distraction of a leash. Then coming out, going back in by choice, and eventual collar grab, rev up, pull back, let go, ram into the crate.
She did REALLY well. I am crazy impressed with her. She didn't hate her crate to start with, so that really helped, but I'm also very impressed with how quickly she caught onto that this game was about staying in the crate, not something I usually make her do (though I do require her to down or sit in her crate before I put her food down).
Our one and biggest issue was releasing her out of her crate for the "You're in, you're out" game. She doesn't really have a release word, per say. Even when I sit on the floor and call her by goofy names, she still maintains her sit or down or stays in her crate, waiting to be rewarded... and I haven't even proofed her stay yet. Heck, sometimes I'll throw food on the floor to TRY and get her to get up, and she won't. I swear, she's an already trained robot.
We weren't able to use Susan's suggestion of a low value reward for the release and collar grab part, because she just really doesn't like having a release word, I guess. Maybe she's lazy? But we did get some out of her and she did really well on running right back into her crate.
I'm going to do some restrained recalls, I think, to work on her release word. Honestly, I've never had this issue before. Most of my dogs are so eager to be released that it's easy to add that "okay!" and it mean good stuff, you can break stay now. But Simi takes staying where I put her very seriously (sometimes) and just seems immune to all my attempts to make a release word fun.
Anyway, over all, I am VERY proud of the Simi. She went above and beyond my expectations and it makes me really excited to work more on her crate games with her and to start our obedience class next Tuesday.