HOW TO CRATE TRAIN A DOG
Recently, I posted a blog about why you need to
crate train your dog.
Now, I would like to give you some tips on how to train your dog to stay calmly in a crate, and to love being there.
TIP 1: FEED YOUR DOG IN ITS CRATE
Part of what you want to accomplish, as you crate train your dog, is getting your dog to think of the crate as a positive place. Emma was scared of her crate when I first got her. Your dog may be too. By feeding your canine in its crate, you will be taking the first step towards training your dog that the crate is a good place to be. If your canine is at all reluctant to go into its crate, start by putting its food in the crate in such a way that your dog can reach in for the food, but does not have to put its whole body inside. Then, as your dog gets more comfortable, start moving the food further and further back in the crate, so that your dog eventually has to go all of the way in to get the food. Once it is used to being in the crate, start closing the door while your dog eats. As your dog is going into the crate, say your command (I use the word “kennel”) for going in. In this way your canine will pair the action of going into the crate with the command.
TIP 2: GIVE YOUR DOG TREATS IN THE CRATE
If your canine likes treats, you can play games with it, as you crate train, utilizing the treats in and around the crate. Start by throwing treats near the crate. When your dog is comfortable going towards the crate for treats, start throwing treats into the crate. Say “kennel” as your dog goes in. From there you can progress to holding a treat through the bars of the crate (as you say your crate training command), so that your dog will have to go in to get it. Once your dog is comfortable going into the crate, you can hide treats in the crate, and send your dog in to find them. As your canine starts liking this, start closing the door while it is searching for the treats. This hiding of treats can be something that you can continue to do whenever you have your dog go into its crate.
TIP 3: GO GRADUALLY
Remember that part of your goal, as you crate train your dog, is to train your dog to love being in the crate. Therefore, you need to make sure that your dog is comfortable with each step of the process. Do your best to not rush the process, so that your dog never resists going in. When you first start closing your dog in the crate, do so for only a second or two. Gradually increase the amount of time your dog is locked in the crate, until it is comfortable being in there as long as you want it in there. Treats can be utilized to increase the amount of time your dog will accept being in the crate. As you start leaving your dog in the crate, periodically walk over to the crate, praise your dog, and slip a treat in through the bars.
TIP 4: KEEP YOUR DOG’S TOYS IN ITS CRATE
It is important that your dog have something to chew on in the crate. So, always make sure that you leave some appropriate chew items in your dog’s crate when you are going to leave it in there. I like to give Emma a bone if I am going to have her in her crate while I leave the house for a few hours. You can use having toys in the crate as part of your strategy to crate train your dog. Just keep all of your dog’s toys in the crate, so that it has to go into the crate to get them. You can also throw toys in the crate when playing fetch with your dog. This will add an element of the crate being fun in your dog’s mind.
TIP 4: DON’T USE THE CRATE AS A PLACE OF PUNISHMENT
Remember that you want the crate to be a positive place in your dog’s mind. If you make your dog go in when you are angry at it, your canine may develop a negative association with the crate. This is counter-productive to crate training. Avoid using the crate as a place of punishment at first. Once your dog likes its crate, and will go in on command, you can send it in to the crate for a time out, as long as you do so without yelling, or being forceful. When Emma does something that displeases me, I will sometimes send her into her crate immediately. I generally don’t close the door, but I still expect her to stay in it until I give her permission to come out. I wait until she lies down, and accepts that she needs to be in there, before letting her out. It is a punishment of sorts, but since there is no force involved, there is no negative association with the action.
TIP 5: NEVER LET YOUR DOG OUT OF ITS CRATE IF IT IS WHINING OR BARKING
Your dog needs to learn to be comfortable in its crate for as long as you want it to be there. It needs to understand that you are in charge of the length of time that it is confined. Therefore, it is imperative that you not give in to any of your canine’s attempts to demand being let out. Doing so puts your dog in charge, and will greatly impact your attempts to crate train your dog. If your dog is whining or barking in the crate, then you are not going gradually enough. You will need to decrease the amount of time that you leave your dog in the crate, and increase the frequency of treats given while it is in there. Try using a spray bottle, if your dog whines or barks. Spray your dog in the face as soon as it starts making noise. Start with just plain water. If your dog likes the water, then add some vinegar to it. Spray your dog each time it makes noise, until there is a period of time where it doesn’t whine or bark. Then, let it out before it starts making noise, again.
You now have five tips to help you crate train your dog. Go ahead and try them out. Even if you are having no problems with your dog, it can still come in handy for traveling and trips to the vet.
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