Crate Training

Crate Training
While crate training takes both patience and time, it can provide many benefits for both puppies and adult dogs. Crate training can confine an unsupervised dog to a den-like area, thus preventing them from going to the bathroom, chewing, or other undesirable behaviors in the home. Furthermore, training a dog to be comfortable in a crate can make traveling with your dog much easier and less traumatic. When a puppy or dog is properly crate-trained, they come to see the crate as a safe and comfortable environment, much like a den.

Selecting a Crate
When selecting a crate, you will have to choose between the many sizes and materials available. Crates may be made of metal, plastic or softer materials. Generally speaking, collapsible soft or fabric crates are intended for short-term use, often when the owner is present. Plastic or metal crates are most recommended for durability. A crate should be large enough for a dog to stand up and turn around in, but not too much bigger.

The Crate Training Process

Depending on a dog’s age, past experiences, and personality, it can take days or weeks (and sometimes longer) to train a dog to be comfortable with the crate. It is important that your dog associate the crate with something positive and pleasant. To do this you will want to take crate training slowly. Never leave a dog inside a crate for a long period, especially in the beginning, as this can lead the dog to associate the crate with abandonment or isolation. Positive reinforcement is the name of the game when it comes to crate training.

Many experts recommend putting the crate inside the home in an area where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. To make the crate an inviting and comfortable environment, you can put a towel or soft blanket inside, though you will want to avoid any materials that a dog can easily shred and ingest. Introducing your dog to the crate in a positive way can involve using a calm and pleasant tone of voice and making sure the door to the kennel is secure so that it won’t hit the dog and frighten them. Initially you can encourage your dog to enter the crate by using treats or toys, giving the treats initially just outside the crate and then inside the crate once the dog has entered. If the dog doesn’t go all the way in the crate at first it is important not to force them to go inside. It may take a few tries for the dog to feel comfortable. Once inside, you will want to leave the dog in the kennel for just a few minutes at a time so that they can make positive associations with being in the crate.

Once the dog is comfortable in the crate, you may choose to feed them their meals inside. This is another way to help your dog associate the crate with something positive. At first, you may want to leave the door of the crate open, but after they get comfortable you can close the door and allow the dog to stay in the crate for short intervals after eating.

Training Tip:
If the dog does begin to cry or whimper in the crate, it is important not to let them out of the crate until the behavior ceases. Otherwise you are teaching her that this behavior can be used to get out of the crate and she will continue doing it.

Eventually, with a gradual acclimation period to crate time, a dog can be left for longer periods inside the crate when you are out of the home or during the night. It is important not to go too fast through the acclimation period, as this can lead the dog to negatively associate with the crate. When crate training is rushed or used incorrectly, a dog can begin to feel trapped or frustrated. More serious problems such as separation anxiety can also develop if a crate is used improperly.

To learn more about the best way to crate train your dog or for help solving problems related to crate training, please contact our qualified canine trainers at Absolute K-9.

“Investing in professional canine training is the single most responsible thing you can do for your dog and your family.” -Mike Stone, Absolute K9

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