09 Nov Crate Training Tips
CRATE TRAINING TIPS
Crate training your dog may take some time and effort, but can be useful in a variety of situations. If you have a new dog or puppy, you can use the crate to limit his access to the house until he learns all the house rules – like what he can and can’t chew on and where he can and can’t eliminate.
A crate is also a safe way of transporting your dog in the car, as well as a way of taking him places where he may not be welcome to run freely. If you properly train your dog to use the crate, he’ll think of it as his safe place and will be happy to spend time there when needed.
Selecting a crate
Crates will be plastic, or collapsible, metal pens. They come in various different sizes. Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up, take two steps forward, backward and turn around in.
The crate training process
Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament and past experiences. It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training. The crate should always be associated with something positive, and training should take place in a series of small steps – don’t go too fast. Five to ten minutes a number of times a day.
Step 1: Introducing your dog to the crate
Put the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket, bed, oer crate mat in the crate. Bring your dog over to the crate and talk to him in a higher pitch or happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is securely fastened open, so it won’t hit your dog and frighten him.
To encourage your dog to enter the crate, drop some small food treats near it, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If he refuses to go all the way in at first, that’s okay – don’t force him to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favourite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days.
Step 2: Feeding treats in the crate
After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding him his regular treats in the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate, you can close the door. At first, open the door as soon as he finishes his treat. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he’s staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after. If he begins to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving him in the crate for a shorter time period. If he does whine or cry in the crate, it’s imperative that you not let him out until he stops. Otherwise, he’ll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so he’ll keep doing it.
Step 3: Conditioning your dog to the crate for longer time periods
After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him there for short time periods while you’re home. Call him over to the crate and give him a treat. Give him a command to enter such as, “kennel up.” Encourage him by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise him, give him the treat and close the door.
Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, then let him out of the crate. Repeat this process several times a day. With each repetition, gradually increase the length of time you leave him in the crate and the length of time you’re out of his sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you out of sight the majority of the time, you can begin leaving him crated when you’re gone for short time periods and/or letting him sleep there at night. This may take several days or several weeks.
Part A: Crating your dog when left alone
After your dog is spending about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put him in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave him with a few safe toys in the crate (see how to use dogs toys).
You’ll want to vary at what point in your “getting ready to leave” routine you put your dog in the crate. Although he shouldn’t be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate him anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don’t make your departures emotional and prolonged, but matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give him a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly.
When you return home, don’t reward your dog for excited behaviour by responding to him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low key. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you’re home so he doesn’t associate crating with being left alone. Your dog should not be left alone in the crate for more than four to five hours at a time during the day.
Part B: Crating your dog at night
Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night, and you’ll want to be able to hear your puppy when he whines to be let outside. Older dogs, too, should initially be kept nearby so that crating doesn’t become associated with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer.
See all our crates and crate mats here.