What is crate training?
Crate training is teaching your dog that the crate is his new indoor “dog house” or bed. Crate training is not meant to be used as a means of punishment, but rather it is meant to prevent any problematic behaviors from being established. To achieve positive results from your training efforts, the association with the crate should always be a positive one. By crate training your dog, both of you will be happy to see each other!
Why crate train your dog?
- It is a secure place to leave your dog when you are not able to watch him. This will prevent him from getting into trouble.
- Provide a safe way to transport your dog in the car, and to take him places where he is not allowed to run freely.
- It prevents the problem of isolating the dog in the yard or garage. Having his indoor “dog house” will allow the dog to be part of the family.
- Contrary to what you might envision, the dog will actually like going into his crate and it will be a safe “den” for him to go on his own. Make the crate training process a fun game; doing so will help the dog learn faster and better, and house-proofing your dog will be easier on both of you in the long run.
Step 1: Selecting an Appropriate Crate for Your Dog
- Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. If it is too large, he could pee on one side and sleep on the other, which will defeat the purpose.
- The crate may be plastic, or a collapsible metal pen; both are available at most pet stores in various sizes.
Step 2: Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
- Because you want your dog to feel like he is part of the family, place the crate in a frequently used room of the house.
- To encourage your dog to enter the crate, place small food treats near the crate, then just inside the door, and finally all the way inside the crate.
- Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food.
- You don’t want to rush this process; otherwise, the dog may become anxious. You always want to create a pleasant association with the crate.
Step 3: Teaching Your Dog to Go Into the Crate for Longer Periods
- Call your dog over to the crate and give him a treat. Then throw a treat into the crate and give him a command to enter such as, “Rocky, crate up.”
- After your dog enters the crate, praise the dog and close the door. Sit near the crate for 5 or 10 minutes, and continue praising the dog only if he is quiet. If he becomes noisy, walk away. When he calms down, praise him and give him a treat.
- Gradually increase the length of time he is left in the crate. Make sure to include times when you are out of sight. Crate him for increasingly longer periods when you are at home and when away, so he does not associate the crate with always being left alone.
NEVER USE THE CRATE AS A FORM OF PUNISHMENT – MAKE IT THE DOG’S COMFORT ZONE.