First, let’s dispel with the common crate training myths right away; crates are not cruel, and are not a punishment. Instead, crates are modern dens for modern dogs. And, as most of us know, it is inherent to a dog’s nature to live in dens.
There are a lot of great reasons to encourage crate training. Most importantly, perhaps, is that a properly crate-trained dog is a happy and confident dog. The crate can be your pup’s happy place, ideal for bone chewing, comfort, and security. Not only is the crate a safe way to travel, but a safe place to be out of the way, too.
Why the Crate is Great!
Providing a crate that is safe and comfortable will benefit your dog throughout his or her entire life. If your pet is able to happily occupy himself in the crate, it is the safest place for him to be – whether it’s in the car, at the vet’s, or in a hotel room or strange house. Likewise, at home Fido’s crate is a haven away from guests, children, and other pets.
Crate training as a puppy can also help with potty training and destructive puppy behaviors, such as chewing, and help to establish a schedule and routine for your dog’s day. As long as the crate is never used for punishment it can be your dog’s happy place.
Crate Training Basics
- Crate Size – Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. If your dog is still growing, choose a crate size that will accommodate his adult size. Block off the excess space with an empty box or a crate divider so your dog can’t eliminate at one end and retreat to the other.
- In the Crate – Make sure there is nothing dangerous in the crate. A cozy blanket or cushion and indestructible chew toys are all that’s needed. Insure his safety by removing any collars or harnesses that could get caught on the crate and endanger your dog.
- C’mon In! – The crate should always be associated with pleasurable things. Start by placing treats in the crate with the door open. When he is comfortable with that, close the door for a few moments while he is eating. This step alone can take many days, be patient! Meals can be fed in the crate to help get used to it, shutting the door briefly while they are happily munching.
- Longer Stays – As your dog gets used to the crate, gradually increase the time he spends there with the door closed. As with every step, give constant praise and encouragement for entering and being well behaved.
- When to Crate – When to use the crate for confinement will be up to your schedule and your dogs acceptance. What a puppy can tolerate vs. an adult dog is completely different. Do your research and find a plan for your dog to have a successful crate experience.
Even if it takes a while, crate training is one of the best investments you can make in your dog’s lifelong wellbeing. With persistence, patience, compassion, and consistency, your pup will be ready to kennel up in no time. If you have any questions, or find that your dog just isn’t taking to the crate, please give us a call – we’re always happy to help!