Crate training is an excellent way to teach your dog good behavior, as well as give your dog his own special space. Benefits of crate training include:
- Prevents damage to your furniture and other household valuables while you are away or sleeping
- Helps you teach your dog proper chewing and elimination (bathroom) behavior
- Provides security for your dog and safety for young children in your home
- Easy traveling
- Improves your relationship with your dog
- Gives your dog a den which is the natural habitat for dogs
Before you begin crate training, make sure that the crate is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in. When using the crate for house training it is important to make sure the crate is only large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in, because any larger and they can potty in one area and sleep in the other. Pet stores carry many different sizes of crates so you can find the one that best fits your dog.
Because dogs are social animals and need interaction to be happy, place the crate in a room where it is bright and there is lots of activity, i.e. your family room. If you put the crate in an area that is dark and lonely the dog will feel it is being punished and will learn to hate the crate. Finally, the crate should be used as your pet’s retreat, or “sanctuary” — it should not be used for punishment (the crate should contain his favorite safe and suitable toys). Use the crate to avoid problems such as chewing and jumping before they occur, and use a separate space if you wish to put your dog in “time out.”
Crate Training Puppies
Begin crate training with your puppy early in the day so he has the whole day to adapt to the crate. Place his favorite treats, toys or food in the crate to motivate him to enter the crate on his own. The first time you confine your puppy to the crate he should be ready to take a nap, so schedule this for after a play or exercise session and after he has gone to the bathroom. Leave the room but stay close enough to be able to hear him. It is normal for your puppy to cry or whine at first, but never reward him by letting him out when he cries. It may be difficult, but you must ignore his cries until they stop before you release him from the crate.
Playing “crate” games can help dogs learn to love the crate. One such game is to teach your dog to lie down and stay when you open the door to the crate. Once the dog has done this they are given a “release cue” and are given a treat for their good behavior. Other games include “go to your crate” game. This game is done by hiding treats in the crate or throwing treats in the crate when the dog goes in so that they associate going into the crate with rewards. It is important that the dog not see you put the treats in the crate
Crate Training Adult Dogs
Crate training an adult dog is similar to crate training a puppy except for the introduction of your dog to his crate. Set up your dog’s crate in his feeding area and leave the door open for a few days. Place food, treats and toys in the crate so the dog is motivated to enter on his own. Close the crate door only after your dog fully enters the crate on his own.
As with puppies, your dog may cry or whine at first (remember not to reward them by going to them when they cry). Gradually increase the amount of time that your dog must remain quiet in the crate before you release and reward him. With patience and lots of treats you dog will learn to love his den and will go to it whenever he wants some personal time.