Dog Crate Training
training can be useful for a number of things. It you have a new dog or puppy, a crate can limit your dog’s access to your house until he learns your rules. This will impede him from chewing household items and cut down on house-wide accidents. It also serves as a way to safely transport your dog by car or to take him to places where running around unattended may not be an option. If you properly train your dog, the dog crate will be thought of as a safe and welcome place. Water should always be available when your dog is in the crate; spill-proof bowls are a good idea.
Types of Crates:
Dog crates can be plastic (also known as travel dog crates), or collapsible, wire dog crates. Soft-sided dog crates are designed to be used when the owner is present and should not be used for long periods of isolation. Crates come in many different sizes and should be large enough to allow the dog room to stand and turn around.
Starting the Training Process:
The length of the training process depends on individual factors (i.e. dog breed, age, temperament and past experiences). Always remember that the crate is supposed to be a place your dog will want to go, so don’t use it as a form of punishment. Start off slow and work gradually.
- Put the crate in an area of the house where the family spends a lot of time. Put a towel or blanket in the crate and, in a calm and reassuring voice, coax your dog into the crate. Make sure the door is securely fastened open. This way it can be somewhere the dog doesn’t feel trapped, and you won’t have to worry about it hitting and possibly scaring the dog.
- Place dog treats near the crate to encourage your dog to spend time around it. Then start placing treats near the front of the crate, eventually move the treats further into the crate. If your dog doesn’t go all the way inside, don’t force him. Stop laying treats around the outside of the crate to persuade your dog to go inside if it wants a treat. If the treats aren’t working, try using a favorite dog toy.
- Once the introductory phase is over, start placing the dog’s regular meals near the crate; this will reinforce the idea of a welcome place. Start placing the dog food further inside the crate, just as you did with the treats.
- When your dog is comfortably entering the crate and eating meals, you can start closing the door. At first, only keep it closed while he’s eating. Leave the door closed a little longer with each successful feeding. If he starts to whine, you may have increased the time too quickly. If this occurs, shorten the time. If he continues to whine, DO NOT let him out until he has finished. Otherwise, he’ll think that whining is a way out.
- After your dog has been eating meals while confined without any fear or anxiety, you can move on. Start putting him in the crate for short periods of time while you’re home. Use a treat and a command to let him know to enter the crate. Once he has, praise him and give him the treat. Sit quietly near the crate for 5 to 10 minutes (don’t give the dog attention), then move to another room for a short time. When you come back to the crate, sit quietly for another 5 to 10 minutes before opening the door.
- Repeat this a few times a day, each time increasing the periods of time you’re gone. Once your dog will sit quietly with you out of sight for 30 minutes, you can begin leaving him in the crate for short periods while you’re gone or letting him sleep there at night.
- Once your dog is spending 30-minute intervals without getting anxious, you can start leaving for extended short periods of time. Follow the basic idea featured in Step 3, Part I; use treats and stay near the cage for five minutes or so, then leave. Refrain from making a big deal when you leave and try not to be gone for extended periods of time. Also, don’t make a big deal about returning and keep him crated for a few minutes after you return so he doesn’t associate the crate with being alone.
- Use the same command and treat routine at night. It may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway for starting nighttime crating, especially if you have a puppy because they sometimes need to be let out at night. You also do not want to imply social isolation. Once your dog has a few successful nights, gradually move the crate to your preferred location.
Too Much Time in the Crate:
Don’t depend on the crate or expect it to be a solution to unwanted behavior. If used improperly, your dog may feel trapped, neglected or frustrated. Don’t keep your dog crated for too long. For example, don’t leave him crated all day while you’re at work and then again when you’re sleeping. Puppies under 6 months shouldn’t be crated for more than three hours because they have limited bladder control.
At first, it may be hard to tell if your dog is whining to be let out or to be let outside – there’s a big difference. Try to ignore the whining; yelling or other aggravated response will make the situation worse. If the whining continues after a few minutes of you ignoring him, use your “go outside?” phrase; if he responds excitedly, take him out. Make sure the trip is only a bathroom break; do not allow the dog to play. After you determine whether or not he has to go, put him back in the crate and ignore the whining; giving in will teach your dog that whining will get him out, and the whining may get louder. If this is a repeated problem, you may need to start the whole process over again.