So, you’ve made the decision that you are going to help your dog learn to love his crate. Now what? How do you actually help him see that it’s a safe place, where good things happen?
As you read in the last article, crates have many benefits, but introducing it is perhaps the most important part of your training. I’ve listed some basic steps, but if these steps are proving to be too difficult, find a local positive/force free dog trainer.
These are the basic crate training steps but every dog is different!! One important tip, never use the crate for punishment! A time out inside for a busy, mouthing puppy is ok, but only once you have trained duration and your pup knows it means good stuff! It will serve as a break for both of you. You bring puppy to the crate and give him a yummy chew or Kong, both of you get some down time from each other!! But your pup is taken there calmly and in a friendly tone.
If your dog or pup has no experience with a crate:
- I recommend a wire crate, so that you can put a blanket over it to help them feel safe, or leave it open for air flow in the summer etc.
- If your dog has had a negative experience in the past, begin from the very beginning as you see below. If you know what kind of crate was used for the bad experience, try to use a different crate (ie: if it was a wire crate, use a plastic crate instead to teach a new association)
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- For about one to two days, leave the crate open and in a commonly travelled area of the home.
- When your puppy is watching and often even when he isn’t, throw treats inside the crate, from the front to the back. These need to be good treats, not kibble! Then, when he walks by, he will smell something yummy, and find the treats in the crate!!
- If puppy looks like he is enjoying going in and out, now wait until he goes in (no food thrown first) before throwing the treats , and tell him how amazing he is!! Continue for about two days, adding the cue “Crate” just before he enters on day two.
- Closing the Door is a very big step for many dogs! So, we are going to gradually add little steps to help your pup feel safe. To begin, you will be doing step three, but close the door for about a second, open it right away, treat him in the crate and let him come out! You can do this about ten times.
- Now, you will just build from here. I always suggest doing this in about five second increments (I know that’s painfully slow!!). So, this would mean you would close the crate for five seconds (treat as much as you can during that time, throwing treats in the crate) and then opening and letting him come out if he chooses. Continue until you can have your dog in the crate for about 30 seconds, feeding every few seconds, and confident that he is happy inside.
- Lastly, build duration by giving your pup something he can chew on. Stuffed Kongs (frozen are even better!), bully sticks, snuffle mats etc. When your pup is done chewing, let him out…slowly he will start to fall asleep and get increasingly more comfortable in his crate!
Never let him out if he is crying, as long as he is quiet, he can be let out.
In no time, you will have a dog that is happy and content in his crate!
About Lisa Davies:
Lisa Davies (KPA-CTP, CDBC, CTC) has been training for 17 years. She graduated from the Academy for Dog Trainers, the Harvard of Dog Training Programs, and is also a certified Behaviour Consultant, specializing in aggression, including dog to human. She has a huge passion for helping rescues become more adoptable through training and is an BC SPCA Animalkind Accredited Trainer.
She shares her home with her husband, two Terriers, a Pointer and a Chihuahua, two goats, a miniature horse and two bunnies.
Contact Lisa at:
Pawsitively Canine Dog Training Services