A crate is an excellent training tool to have for your dog. The purpose of a crate is to provide security, safety, and protection, on a short-term basis. It is particularly helpful when training a puppy or new dog where his boundaries are. The crate becomes his or her personal den where the dog can find comfort and solitude when you aren’t home with them.
Dogs are natural den animals, which is why you can rest assured they will feel comfortable in a crate. It becomes a place for safety, relaxation, and sleep. The main use for a crate is for house training, as dogs don’t like for their dens to get dirty. Crates are also very helpful as a safe way to transport your dog in the car.
The best place to keep the crate is in the family room or kitchen. This is because it allows your dog to see the environment and family members, and hear and smell your home. It may take days or weeks to crate train your dog, depending on his age, temperament and past experiences.
The crate should be large enough for your dog to stretch out, stand without hitting his head and be able to turn around. The crate should never be so large that your dog could relieve himself in one corner and go sleep in the other. If you have a puppy and the crate is much larger than him, you may want to block off a section of the crate with cardboard.
Your dog is sure to love his new den if you line it with a nice warm blanket, a bowl of water and a toy that he likes. In the beginning, you should slowly introduce the crate to your dog. You could begin with crating him for 10 minutes, gradually increasing this over time. This will allow your dog to get used to the idea. The first time you crate him, it should never be longer than 30 minutes.
If you have a puppy, don’t keep him in the crate for more than 3 or 4 hours. It is a good idea to give your pup a nice exercise session before crating him. If the puppy is whining about being in the crate, offer him a treat to calm him down. Whatever you do, don’t let him out of the crate at that moment. Even a grown dog may fuss, bark and moan about being in the crate at first. If this happens, don’t give your dog any attention.
If you were to give him attention when he makes a fuss, he will remember this. Instead, ignore your dog until he calms down. After he is acting normal again, then you can let him out. The only exception to this is to let him out if you think it is time for him to relieve himself. Even if this is the case, wait until he stops barking first.
Be sure to not leave your dog in his crate for too long, day after day. This would cause him to develop destructive behaviors and anxiety problems. If you notice that your dog is acting hyperactively compared to before, you may be keeping him in the crate for too long.
Most importantly, never use his crate as a form of punishment. This will make him associate the crate with negative experiences and he will become afraid of it. His crate is meant to be a safe and comfortable space, not as a place for punishment. You should crate your dog only long enough for you to trust him not to destroy the house. After this, the crate should be a place he chooses to go voluntarily.