How to Crate Train your dog or puppy
Crate training philosophy
Crate training uses a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog’s den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog’s den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge during a thunderstorm. He won’t see it as a place of confinement.
- The primary use for a crate is house training. Dogs don’t like to soil their dens.
- Crates are a safe way to transport your dog in the car.
- Provides your dog with a home away from home while on trips.
- Provide limited access to the rest of the house while he learns the rules around the house.
Some rules to remember
Never use the crate as a punishment. Your dog will come to fear it and refuse to enter it. Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long. A dog that’s crated day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. The rules and training must be consistence with everyone in the household. Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long. The same goes for adult dogs that are being house trained. Physically, they can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to.
Selecting a crate
Plastic dog crates (often called “flight kennels”) These portable crates are perfect for the pair that’s on the go–many are federally-approved for airline travel. Smaller plastic dog crates have handles for easy carrying and mobility. Larger crates are too heavy to pick up with the dog in them, so many feature wheels, but keep in mind that if you choose one that does not, you’ll need another method of transporting the large-size crates.
Fabric on a collapsible, rigid frame These lightweight are excellent for Pet Parents of adult dogs who need containment solutions when they’re out on the road. They’re not so ideal however for puppies or heavy chewers who could potentially tear through them.
Collapsible, metal pens are durable crates are made entirely of heavy gauge wire and many can be easily folded down for transport and storage. When purchasing a wire crate be sure that the wire gauge is spaced close enough to keep your dog’s head and paws from squeezing through. A plastic or metal pan on the bottom of the crate makes for easy clean-up.
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 crate space so your dog can’t eliminate at one end and retreat to the other. Most all of the crates have a divider that will allow you adjust the space inside the crate while your puppies grows this way you can buy a crate that will fit your dog once it is grown.
Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate
Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at his leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away.
- Bring him over to the crate, and talk to him in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won’t hit your dog and frighten him.
- Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If he refuses to go all the way in at first, that’s okay; don’t force him to enter.
- Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days.
Step 2: Feed your dog his meals in the crate
After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding him his regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate.
- If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate.
- If he remains reluctant to enter the crate, put the dish only as far inside as he will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed him, place the dish a little further back in the crate.
- Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat his meal, you can close the door while he’s eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as he finishes his meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he’s staying in the crate for ten minutes or so after eating.
- If he begins to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving him in the crate for a shorter time period. If he does whine or cry in the crate, don’t let him out until he stops. Otherwise, he’ll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so he’ll keep doing it.
Step 3: Lengthen the crating periods
After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him there for short time periods while you’re home.
- Call him over to the crate and give him a treat.
- Give him a command to enter, such as kennel, crate, or bed. Encourage him by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand.
- After your dog enters the crate, praise him, give him the treat, and close the door.
- Sit quietly near the crate for five to ten minutes, and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, and then let him out of the crate.
- Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave him in the crate and the length of time you’re out of his sight.
- Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving him crated when you’re gone for short time periods and/or letting him sleep there at night. This may take several days or several weeks.
Step 4: Crate your dog when you leave
After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him crated for short periods when you leave the house.
- Put him in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave him with a few safe toys in the crate.
- Vary at what point in your “getting ready to leave” routine you put your dog in the crate. Although he shouldn’t be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate him anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving.
- Don’t make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give him a treat for entering the crate, and then leave quietly.
- When you return home, don’t reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low key to avoid increasing his anxiety over when you will return.
- Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you’re home so he doesn’t associate crating with being left alone.
Step 5: Crate your dog at night
Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night, and you’ll want to be able to hear your puppy when he whines to be let outside.
Older dogs, should initially be kept nearby so they don’t associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer.
Decreasing Confinement, Increasing Freedom
You can begin to give your dog more freedom in your house while you’re gone once she’s thoroughly house trained, has eliminated consistently outside with no accidents for at least one month, and chews or destroys only her own toys-not your house or household items. The right time to give your dog more freedom will depend on her individual personality. Some dogs can be destructive when alone until they are about two years old, while others can be trusted at one year or less.