Crate Training 101

I am a firm believer that if crate training is done right it is a great training option for our dogs. If everyone crate trained their dogs there would be far less dogs given up due to destructive behavior or having too many accidents around the house.

Many people believe that crates are cruel, however, when implemented correctly our dogs will love their crates! Our dogs love the feeling of having a place to themselves. As a matter of fact in nature dogs are cave dwelling animals. Crates give dogs the sense of security. However, to make this a safe place for our dog, the crate must never be used for punishment.

Crate training will help immensely in the potty training process. (Be sure to check out my potty training blog) As well as help prepare them for anytime they may need to be boarded at a vet or doggy daycare. Crate training will also ensure that your dog cannot get into anything that could potentially harm them.

Crate safety: You will want to make sure that when your dog is crated that you take his collar off. you will also want to make sure that you do not leave any toys or bones in his crate if he will be left unsupervised.

If you are potty training your dog you will not want to leave food or water in the crate when you leave for work or know you will be gone for a longer period of time.

Location, location, location! The location of the crate is important to consider! Typically when crate training is first being introduced you should have the crate wherever you are during the day like the living room for example, let the dog go in and out at his leisure. At night it would be best to have the crate in your room so the dog is near you and not barking/whining non stop because he is crated in a different room. You will want to have a crate that is easy to move around or purchase two crates.

Here is a training regiment I have found to work great:

First, you will have to purchase a crate. You will want a crate that your dog can grow into but also has a divider to make it smaller for potty training. If you will be moving the crate around you will also want to take into account the transportability.

Now, it is important to remember that the crate should never be used as a punishment. For our dogs to grow to love their crates this must be seen as a positive place for them to be! To accomplish this we must incorporate the crate into their every day lives. A good way to do this is to start feeding them their meals in the crate. Leave the crate door open and put their food bowl in the back of the crate to where they must fully go into the crate to eat. The idea to this is dogs will not typically use the restroom where they eat and they will start to associate the crate with something positive, I mean, after all who doesn’t love to eat!

After you have done the feeding in the crate for a few days, start closing the door behind him and opening the door once he has finished eating. You will want to stay in sight of him the first few times of doing this. After this point you will begin to crate him with the crate door closed at night as well.

The next step is to start giving him higher value rewards to go into the crate. I say to do this when you’re sitting watching TV or something. Have some treats handy next to you and throw them in the crate, this will entice him to go in, when he walks in you can mark the behavior with a command like “kennel” or “crate”. You can also use a Kong with frozen peanut butter or yogurt to get him to stay in the crate longer. (Make sure your dog is supervised when given a Kong or any other toy) When he is in there you can say “Good boy, good kennel!” and let him walk back out. Simple enough, right?

Now that we are getting him comfortable with being in the crate with the door open as well as when the door is shut, you will start to leave the room while he is eating and the crate door is shut. First, start off with about 30 seconds and gradually increase the amount of time you leave the room. Once, you have done this successfully and he is not whining or going crazy in the crate for about 5 minutes, he is ready for the next step.

The last step of the crate training regiment is leaving the house for a short amount of time while he is crated. Go get the mail or talk to a neighbor. When you come back in and he is calm you will give tons of praise and treats when you let him out of the crate.

Depending on the dog crate training can typically be accomplished in a few days to a week. Some dogs may take a little bit longer, but that’s okay! Slow and steady wins the race.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have and if you like the article let me know!

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