Crate Training Your Dog
Training your dog to see a crate as that safe place can certainly be good for him
Why Crate Training Is Good For Your Dog
Dogs are den animals and have a natural instinct to have a den type setting where they feel safe and secure. Training your dog to see a crate as that safe place can certainly be good for him. Besides being a preferred place to be, a crate can also be a very useful training tool. For example, it can be very helpful in house training between the times you take your dog outside since we know a dog will generally not go to the washroom where they eat or sleep. The crate can keep your dog and your household safe when you are away. It can also provide a great alternative for you and your dog for those times when they may feel stressed such as when guests are over or when there is heightened activity in your home.
Choosing The Right Crate
When choosing a crate you don’t want a crate that is so big that it allows the opportunity for the dog to go to the washroom on one end and sleep on the other end. Your dog only needs a space big enough so that they can easily enter the crate, stand up, turn around and lay back down again. You really only need a crate that is 4 to 6 inches wider and deeper than the dog’s size. If you are crate training a puppy which will be growing to a much bigger size, you will want to get an adjustable divider that can allow you to increase the space size in your crate as your puppy grows.
Setting Up The Crate
When you begin crate training you will want to put the crate where the family is at most of the time such as the living room so the dog does not feel isolated. You can bring it to your bedroom when you go to sleep at night. In the beginning, leave the crate door open so your dog can freely go in and out and become accepting of its crate. Reward your dog when he goes in the crate on his own.
Place a towel or blanket over the crate to give the crate the den affect. Put a blanket or bed in the crate along with some of your dog’s favorite safe toys. Toss favorite treats in the crate when your dog is not looking so that he can see the crate as a place with pleasant surprises. Sit at the crate door with your dog and toss treats or kibble in and around the crate. Begin saying “Go to your crate” or “Kennel” as your dog enters followed by a treat reward so that it is learning the cue to go to the crate. Play with your dog around the crate tossing toys in that it can bring back to you. Play tug of war with your dog in the crate and you are outside. You don’t want your only interaction with you, your dog and the crate to be when you are putting your dog in there. Do not force your dog into the crate before it is ready to go in so that you do not risk your dog having a negative impression of the crate. Crate train at your dog’s pace.
The Crate Training Process
Once your dog is happily accepting of the crate you can begin the process of helping your dog to enjoy being there. One of the ways that you can begin this process is by feeding your dog in its crate. You can also give your dog a Kong chew toy full of tasty frozen food. When your dog is eating in the crate, close the door and reopen it as soon as they are done. Add more time before opening the door as they can handle it. You can then at this point begin putting them in there at other times using treats to help them enter and then close the door. Sit by them for a short time and then leave to another room. Increase the length of time away as they can handle it. If your dog begins to whine do not let them out right away as they will think this is the way to have you let them out. Wait to see if they can stop whining after a few minutes. If the whining goes on for long periods of time before stopping that means you have to go back in the process and help your dog to gain a greater acceptance of the crate with shorter periods of time. You should put your dog in its crate while you are home from time to time so that they do not always associate being in the crate with being alone. Once your dog can go 30 minutes without expressing any fear or anxiety when it is out of your sight then you can begin leaving the house for short periods of time and adding time as your dog can handle it. You will want to try to avoid having your dog in its crate for longer than 8 hours. If you are going to be gone for long periods of time try to see if a family member, a friend or even a dog walker can come by to give your dog a break to stretch its legs, get some attention and go to the bathroom. Do not make leaving or arriving back home a big event by saying good bye to your dog. This will help your dog with separation anxiety when you leave.
Having a dog that has its own place that it enjoys going to can reduce stress, build confidence and keep your dog safe so that you can be together for many years to come.
Takacs Dog Training LLC is a force free, positive reinforcement dog training experience. Serving Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Evening and weekend training sessions available.