Crate training is a very effective training tool for adult dogs and puppies. It may take a little time and effort to train your dog to use the crate, but it can prove useful in a variety of situations.
For instance, if you have a new dog or puppy, a crate is a fantastic way of teaching it the boundaries of the house and keeping it safe. When you’re travelling in a car, visiting the et or any other time you may need to confine your dog (e.g. after surgery or if it has been injured,) it’s much easier and safer if your dogs has been trained to enjoy being in a crate.
1. How big should my crate be?
A crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down.
1.1 “I don’t like the look of a crate! What will my dog think?“
A crate is intended to be a ‘safe haven’ or ‘security blanket’ for the dog. By nature, dogs like small, enclosed spaces, especially when they are feeling a bit unsure. By providing your dog with an area where it can ‘escape’ and know it won’t be bothered, it can readily seek out this area when it needs a bit of a break or time out.
The duration of crate training varies from dog to dog. It will depend on the dogs age, temperament and past experiences. Always vary the length of time that your dog will spend in its crate, especially during training. This will prevent your dog from ‘expecting’ to be let out at a particular time and reduce any issues such as whining or scratching at the crate door.
Introduce Your Dog to the Crate
Place the crate in a central part of the household (living room, TV room etc.) Make the crate inviting and comfortable for your dog. Usually, dogs will go over and investigate. When your dog goes near the crate, reward it by throwing a food treat into the crate or near its entrance. Repeat this every time the dog goes near the crate. If the dog settles down inside the crate, reward the behaviour either with your voice or with food rewards.
Feed Your Dog in the Crate
Begin giving your dog its regular meals in the crate. Place the bowl inside the crate and encourage the dog to enter. If your dog readily enters the crate at dinner time, start asking it to go in and then place the food inside the crate.
Increase the Length of Time Spent in the Crate
Once your dog is happy in the crate for about 10–15 minutes after finishing its meal, you can start to confine it to the crate for longer periods. Get the dog into the crate using a command such as “crate” or “bed.” As the dog enters the crate, give it a treat, praise it and close the door. Quietly sit nearby for a few minutes and reward the dog for remaining calm and happy. Start with short sessions and gradually increase the length of time that you leave the dog inside the crate. This may take several days or weeks.
Too Much Time in the Crate
Be careful that your puppy doesn’t spend too much time in its crate. While it is a fantastic tool for toilet training puppies and preventing destruction, a dog of any age should not spend all day in a crate while you are at work and again when you go to bed. This can affect your dog’s muscle development and condition.
If your dog begins whining in its crate, the best thing to do is ignore it. For a young puppy, whining may occur because it needs to relieve itself, so quietly take it out to the toilet on a lead, making sure not to play with it. Place it back into its crate once it has been to the toilet. Remember that any sort of interaction, positive or negative, will be a ‘reward’ for the dog, so ignoring the whining is best. However, make sure that you reward the dog appropriately when it has settled and is quiet. Using a towel or sheet to cover the crate if the whining persists can also help the dog.
We hope these tips are helpful in crate training your dog!
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