Crate Training Your Dog

Crate training your dog or puppy sometimes takes time and effort, but is very
useful and in many cases, necessary. If you have a young dog, or a dog you
have recently adopted, crate training him is very important. You are setting your
dog up for success: he won’t have as many opportunities to get into trouble
because he doesn’t yet know the rules of the household. You are protecting him
from dangerous situations such as broken glass or chewed electrical cords. And,
he is learning the rules of the household concerning appropriate places to sleep,
play and eliminate. It’s also a safe way of transporting your dog in the car, as
well as teach
ing him to be comfortably confined when at the vets, groomers or in
other places where he can't run around freely. If you properly train your dog to
use a crate, he’ll think of it as his safe place and will be happy to spend time
there when needed.

Important note: Crate training doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog must be in
a small, airline approved kennel. Crate training can also mean being confined
in a wire kennel, an outdoor run with appropriate shelter, or even your laundry
room if that’s what works best for you and your dog.
Crate training is a process that moves at a different pace depending on the dog’s
personality, age, temperament and previous experience. The most important
things to remember when training a dog to accept a crate are
1) always
associate the crate with something pleasant (do not use it for punishment) and
2) keep the training moving forward in small, attainable chunks.

Introducing Your Dog to the Crate

Put the crate in the area where it would be likely to stay for a period of time.
Spend some time there with your dog cuddling, playing near it or in it together
and just hanging out peacefully. Make sure the door is fastened open so that
he won’t inadvertently be hit by it or that it won’t close on him prematurely.
Put some blankets or other soft snugglies in there. Toss in some treats or his
favorite toys a
nd make a fuss over him as he goes in and out taking the treats
or playing with his toys. With some dogs you may need to start with treats
outside the kennel and then gradually put them further and further inside until
the dog feels safe about going in.
Put a well-stuffed Kong into the kennel and close the door, preventing your
dog from having access to it. Let him slobber and drool over it and want to go
in the crate. When he’s very anxious to get to it, open the door and let him
run in and grab it. He will start to associate the kennel with wonderful things
that he wants.

Help Your Dog Really Love the Crate

After you have spent the time to introduce your dog to his crate, begin to feed
him his regular meals in his crate. This will create a very pleasant association
in his mind as well as teaching him to think about the crate in a calm, relaxed
If your dog is going into his crate in a happy manner for treats, toys or a Kong,
put his food dish all the way in the back of the crate. If you dog is a little
reluctant to go into the kennel, put the bowl in only as far as he is willing to go
and then gradually move it further back after a few trials.
Once he is standing in his crate comfortably while eating, you can close the
door. In the beginning, open the door just as soon as he finishes eating.
With each feeding, gradually extend the length of time he stands in the kennel
with the door closed before opening it and releasing him. If he whines or
claws at the door to be let out, you may have rushed the acclimation process
a little. Shorten the length of time and gradually re-build to the “sticky” point.
Do not let him out when he whines or barks until he is quiet or he’ll learn to
bark more as a way of getting out.

Getting Your Dog Accustomed to Spending More Time in the Crate

After the dog has learned to eat comfortably and calmly in the crate and
spend a few minutes there after eating, you can begin to confine him there for
short periods of time.
For the first time confinements, be certain that you are at home. Call him to
the kennel and reward him for coming happily. Cue him to enter the kennel
by saying “kennel”, “office” or “your bed”. Toss a treat in there. As he goes
in, close the door and latch it shut. Sit quietly near the crate or in a nearby
room for five to ten minutes. Let him out of the crate after the predetermined
period of time only if he is quiet. Repeat this process several times daily and
increase the length of time each time.
Make sure that he doesn’t associate the crate and spending a period of time
in there with being “abandoned”. He can be crated while you’re home eating
dinner or housework, so he doesn’t think the crate is a signal for you going
away from home for long periods of time. He can also be crated at night
while you’re sleeping.

After your dog is comfortable with being crated for 30 minutes you can leave
him kenneled while you leave home. Set him up to succeed. Put him in the
kennel at least 10 minutes before you leave so he doesn’t go from a period of
high activity to low activity. Don’t talk to him for a few minutes before you
leave home. Give him a good, interactive puzzle toy to keep him focused and
busy and keep his mind off of being alone. When you come back home, don’t
let him out right away and don’t apologize to him for having left. Leave him in
there for a couple of minutes then quietly let him out. Keep your arrival low


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