Understand the value of crate training. You might think it cruel to pen a dog up in a crate for hours at a time. But dogs are instinctively den animals, so confined spaces are not as oppressive to them as they are to us. In fact, crate trained dogs will seek out their crates as a source of comfort.
- Crate training is a useful way to manage your dog’s behavior when he’s unsupervised for extended periods of time.
- For example, many owners crate their dogs when they go to sleep or leave the house.
Begin crate training young. Although older dogs can be taught to enjoy their crates as well, it’s easier to train a young dog.
- If your puppy is a large breed, don’t train him in a large crate that you think he’ll grow into.
- Dogs won’t relieve themselves where they sleep or relax, so you need the crate to be appropriately sized.
- If you use a crate that’s too large, he might urinate in the far corner of it because he has so much space.
Make the crate an inviting space. Don’t isolate him in the crate immediately by locking the door the first time you get him to enter it. You want him to create a positive association with the crate, so that he enjoys his time in there.
- When you begin the crate training process, place the crate somewhere the household gathers. The idea is to make the crate part of the social scene rather than a place of isolation.
- Place a soft blanket and some of your dog’s favorite toys inside the crate.
Encourage him to enter the crate. Once you’ve made the crate an inviting space, use treats to lure him inside. At first, place some outside the door so he can explore the exterior of the crate. Then, place treats just inside the door, so he will poke his head in to retrieve them. As he grows more comfortable, place the treats further and further inside the crate.
- Do this until your dog enters the crate without hesitation.
- Always speak in your “happy voice” when acclimating your dog to the crate.
Feed the dog in his crate. Once he’s comfortable entering the crate for treats, reinforce the positive association with mealtime.
- Place his dog bowl wherever he’s comfortable eating. If he’s still a little anxious, you might have to place it right by the door.
- As he grows more comfortable over time, place the dog bowl further back into the cage.
Begin closing the door behind him. With treats and feeding, you’ll find that your dog is growing more acclimated to being in the crate. He still needs to learn how to cope with the door being closed.
- Begin closing the door at mealtime, when the dog too distracted by his food to notice what’s going on at first.
- Close the door for very short periods, lengthening the time as the dog grows more comfortable.
Don’t reward the dog for whining. When a puppy whines, it may be adorable and heartbreaking, but when a grown dog whines, it can drive you nuts. If your puppy whines inconsolably, you may have left him inside the crate for too long. However, you cannot release him from the crate until the whining stops. Remember — every reward you give reinforces the dog’s last behavior, which was whining in this case.
- Instead, release the dog once he’s stopped whining.
- The next time you close the door on the crate, leave him in for a shorter period of time.
Comfort your dog during long crate sessions. If your puppy cries when he’s alone in the crate, bring the crate into your bedroom at night. Have a tick tock clock or white noise machine to help the puppy get to sleep. Make sure that they have already eliminated outside and don’t need to urinate or defecate.
- Young puppies should be crated in your room at night so that you can hear them tell you they need to go out in the middle of the night. Otherwise, they will be forced to mess in the crate.