When, how and why are the most common questions people ask about crate training. Dogs are naturally den animals and are instinctual attracted to the idea of having a safe place to sleep, hide from a storm, or just find that peaceful solitude. It is important that crate training be done correctly though to prevent it from becoming a place of punishment or anxiety. We’ll go through some of the important points of crate training.
First you want to make sure to pick out a crate that is large enough for your dog. They should be able to stand up, sit and stretch out. It should not be big enough for them to soil one end and sleep in another. Puppies should either be started in a smaller crate and moved to a bigger one as they grow or you can always block off one end to eliminate access.
It is important when starting the crating to make sure to place it somewhere in an area where he is always with you or the family. A kitchen or family room can be a great spot and will help your dog get accustomed to it without feeling lonely. Ideally bring the crate into your bedroom with you at night as well.
When first starting out it is important to leave the door open until your dog gets comfortable. Also make sure to create a comfy environment by placing a towel or blanket down on the bottom. Including some of his favorite toys or treats will help your dog get used to being in the crate and learn to enjoy it. And don’t forget water. A small hamster type dispenser will work great if needing to crate for an extended period of time.
Introducing your dog to the crate should be a pleasant and rewarding experience. Never try to push or force your dog in the crate. And absolutely never use it for punishment. Try feeding him his meals near or in the crate to create a positive association. You can start with his bowl just outside the crate and slowly move it further back until he is comfortable. The time of crating should be gradually increased. If your dog starts to whine while in the crate it may be because you increased the time too quickly. Just go back to shorter time periods and work your way back up. Do not let him out while he is still whining though. This will reinforce the whining behavior and teach him to whine to get what he wants.
A crate is a great way to get your new dog house trained as well. There are a few guidelines to follow though. Young puppies have very little bladder control and usually will need to eliminate every hour. Once they get up to 4 months and up they can usually go all night and can be crated for up to 5 hours. It is best to take your dog to eliminate shortly before putting him in the crate. It is very rare they will soil where they sleep. If they enjoy being outside make some play time after they eliminate so that they don’t start to feel that as soon as they go they will be punished by having to go back inside. This will create the incentive to want to use the potty outside. And don’t punish your dog if he goes in the crate. Accidents will happen but you want to keep the crate as a positive place for your pup. Be sure to clean out the pan with a good non-ammonia based cleaner and move on.
Teaching your dog to love his crate can be a blessing for you both. When they become overstimulated they will know they have a safe quiet place to go. Having a familiar place while at a hotel, in the car or just visiting family can be a very relaxing thing for everyone as well. Just remember with care and positive reinforcement you can help improve both your lives and create a lasting friendship.