If used properly, a crate can be a place for your puppy to feel safe and relaxed. A crate can also be used to provide a comfortable sleeping and traveling space for your dog. In order for a crate to work in the right way, you will need to properly crate train your new puppy as soon as possible.
What You’ll Need:
- A crate that is large enough for your dog to stand up in and turn around comfortably, allowing room for a blanket and at least one toy.
- Blanket and/or Bedding
Place the crate in the room where it will permanently remain. Place a blanket and some chew toys in the crate, and leave the door open. Show your dog a great, and toss it into the crate, giving the command, “Go to bed,” in a bright, cheerful, yet firm tone. You can use any command you like, but it’s important to stick with the command you choose. When the dog goes inside, leave the door open and give enthusiastic praise while offering a second treat. Say, “Ok” to let the dog know he can come out again. Don’t reward him for leaving the crate. You want the association of the treat to occur when he enters. Repeat this step 10-12 times, then stop for the day.
Once your dog gets the hang of entering and exiting the crate on command, you can move on to the next step. This time, try giving the, “Go to bed,” command in a happy tone without tossing a treat inside. Instead, point to the crate when you give the command. When he responds by entering the crate, shower your dog with praise and reward him with a treat. Say, “ok” to let him know he can step back outside. Repeat several times.
Once your dog understands the, “Go to bed” command, you can move on to closing the crate door. When the dog enters the crate, give him a treat immediately, then close the door. Feed him a few treats through the door to help him remain calm. Count to five, then open the door and give the “Ok” command to let him know he can exit. If you notice your dog panicking when the door closes, you can try the intermediate step of closing the door only halfway and then allowing him to exit. Repeat this exercise several times a day, increasing the amount of time you keep the door closed with each set of repetitions.
Once your dog is used to the crate door closing, keep the crate closed while you sit nearby. Start with 5 minute sets, then gradually increase the time in the crate until you reach 30 minutes. Be sure you dog can see you at all times. He may whine a little, but you should remain steadfast. Place lots of chew toys in the crate to help distract him. If your dog begins to panic, however, go back to step three for a while to help him relax and get used to the crate at a slower pace.
When your dog relaxes in the crate while you are in the same room, leave him alone in the crate while you exit to another area of the home. Again, be sure the crate is full of interesting chew toys to help keep his mind off of being alone. Increase the amount of time the dog is alone in the crate until he is comfortable there.
It is important to note that crate training should not be used as a permanent housing arrangement for your pet, but rather a short-term management tool. You don’t want to keep your dog in a crate eight hours a day, every work day. If overused, the dog will begin to feel confined and may act out due to lack of exercise and companionship. Some dogs take to crate training right away, while others will never be comfortable or relaxed in a crate. This can be especially true of rescue dogs. If your dog is reduced to panic inside the crate, you might have to abandon crate training all together.