6 Steps to Crate Training Your Dog
Dogs, like people, need their own safe space. A crate can be a quiet refuge for your dog, but you need to train your dog to introduce the concept of crating. Some owners like their dogs to sleep in the crate or to stay in the crate when they are not home. When you crate your dog is up to you, but you will need to put in the time to get them comfortable.
- Choose a crate. First things first, you will need to find the right crate for your pup. You will have different options to choose from, such as a wire crate or a plastic crate, but the first factor to consider is size. You will want your dog to be able to comfortably walk into the crate and have enough room to get up and turn while inside.
- Let your puppy get to know the crate. Once you have purchased a crate, you can spend some time letting your puppy investigate it. Bring the crate into the puppy’s environment and leave the door open. Let him or her sniff the crate and walk inside without shutting the door.
- Make the crate a welcoming environment. The crate is meant to be a positive experience for your dog. Practice loading your dog into the crate by placing tasty treats inside. Allow your dog to walk inside the crate to get the treats without shutting the door. You can also place your dog’s favorite toys and blankets inside the crate to make the space feel safe and welcoming.
- Start out with short periods of time. While the eventual goal may be to leave your dog for extended periods in the crate, you will need to start small. For example, you could feed your dog a meal in the crate and then let them out for play time. Initially, you should remain at home while your dog is in the crate to monitor whether or not he feels anxious. As your dog adjusts, slowly increase the amount of crated time. Eventually, you will be able to leave home for periods of time while your dog is comfortably crated.
- Avoid common crate training mistakes. If you are crate training a puppy, you are likely focusing on other aspects of training, like housebreaking. Keep in mind your puppy will only be able to stay in the crate for a couple of hours at a time before needing a bathroom break. The amount of time can increase as they get older. It is also important to avoid leaving an older dog crated for long periods of time without exercise. Your dog will likely become restless and anxious. Finally, do not use your dog’s crate as a punishment. It can be tempting to put your dog away for bad behavior, but this will cause them to form negative associations with the crate.
- Be patient with the process. Crate training, like any other aspect of training your dog, takes time. Expect the process to take time. Some dogs take to the crate quickly, while others struggle with anxiety and barking. Progress might seem slow, but it is important that you remain consistent. Remain focused on keeping the crate a positive experience with treats, toys, and other positive reinforcement.