Crate Training a Dog

November 9, 2009


Why puppies/dogs like crates:

Used well, crates become a place of sanctuary and refuge for puppies and older dogs, somewhere to hide when the hustle and bustle of home life gets too much and the puppy or dog needs to rest without fear of being trodden on or pestered by people! In the wild a dog would dig a hole in the ground, no larger than themselves to rest!

Choosing a crate:

A crate needs to be large enough for the adult dog to stand up, turn around and lie down full length, any bigger and the crate will not only become less practical for you, but will not give a cosy house for your dog.

The advantages of using a crate:

  • Aids and speeds house training
  • Prevents destruction of the home and therefore learning bad habits
  • Can be used for car travel
  • A travelling house that will give your pet safety and you peace of mind when you visit others homes
  • Teaches the dog to lie down and sleep when you are out

Being kind:

  • Water must be available (water bowls with brackets that fix to the side of the cage are available from pet shops)
  • Maximum time in the crate overnight and for up to 5 hours during the day will be tolerated comfortably by dogs of most ages
  • Choose the location of the crate carefully, dry and warm, but not in a conservatory in full sun
  • Follow the steps below to ensure your puppy will not be distressed when left alone or shut in the crate

Training Steps:

  1. Bring the cage into the home, you can start in the living room, where the cage is in the early days is not important, start somewhere convenient to training, once the training is complete your dog will be happy in his/her crate where ever it is!
  1. Put some comfy bedding in the bottom, preferably familiar bedding.
  1. Prop the door open and let the puppy/dog see you throw some food inside the crate and wait for your dog to walk in and eat the food. If the puppy/dog is reluctant find some tastier food, cheese, sausage or chicken will generally work. Be patient and wait for the puppy/dog to walk in of their own accord, this the most important moment.
  2. Allow the puppy/dog to come back out of the crate and then repeat as before by throwing food in the crate.
  3. Next time throw several pieces right to the back of the crate, the puppy/dog will be in there slightly longer to eat the food.
  4. Continue as above until the puppy/dog stays in the crate, they will when they are feeling at ease.
  5. Once the puppy/dog is at ease shut the door and stay right by the cage, it would be good to push some more food through the bars.
  6. When the dog is settled, open the door, do not make the puppy come out or make a fuss at this point, doing so would be praising the dog for coming out, all the rewards must be whilst the puppy/dog is in the crate.
  7. Wait a few moments throw some food in the crate, when the puppy/dog follows the food in, close the door and wait till settled again before opening the door and ignoring the puppy until you are ready to do the whole process again.
  8. If this is going well you may now increase the time the puppy/dog is in the crate, but you must stay by the crate!
  9. You may leave the training at this stage to continue later the same day or carry on.
  10. Every time use food to encourage the puppy/dog into the crate.
  11. Now when the puppy is in the crate and settled, go and sit on a chair in the same room for a time, at least 10 minutes, again release the dog from the crate continue to ignore and only give attention when in the crate.
  12. If this goes well increase the time and your movement in the room, stay in sight until you have practised every variation in the room.
  13. Once you are successful at the previous stage start leaving the room briefly and returning. If this goes well the training is complete for the dog but you may well need to feel more confidant, increase the dogs time in the crate whilst you are in the house and every variation that you need to feel completely confidant.
  14. Having the crate by the bed for the first 2/3 nights will ensure your puppy/dog is totally trained, after these 2/3 nights you can leave the crate wherever you find convenient.

Barking or whining:

If your puppy/dog barks or whines in these early stages use noise to interrupt the barking and distract them e.g. drop a book on the floor, stamp your foot or rustle a bag, experiment until you find the noise that works (do not look at the puppy/dog when you make the noise).

If your puppy/dog shows signs of distress at any stage go back to an earlier step.

Please contact me for more help if you need to or would like to be personally coached through the training.

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