Train Your Dog To Love The Crate

crate train your dog

There are many arguments against crate training. For some people it seems to conjure up feelings of imprisonment and cruelty.  They just see it as a dog cage… To the contrary, crate training can not only be useful tool for all sorts of behavioral training, but it can also give your dog some personal space in your home. In this article, we’re going to help you train your dog to love the crate!

First and foremost, the crate is somewhere Fido can go and not be bothered. He can stay out the reach of the kids, visitors, and run there to enjoy that delicious piece of rawhide. When your dog feels safe in his crate, it can be used as a warm and effective way of house-training. You can use your crate to create a routine for your dog, and restrict access until he understands the house rules.

In addition, a crate can be useful when traveling. A dog that’s crated in the car has better chance of surviving a car accident and no chance of causing one. In addition, you can crate your dog in hotels or when visiting friends and family whose homes are not particularly dog friendly. Also, at some point Fido may get sick or injured, and the crate can be the perfect place to limit his movement to allow for proper healing.


Step 1
Choose the right crate. Make sure the crate is only big enough for your dog to stand up, lay down, and turn around. Folks often make the mistake of getting a large dog crate that’s way too big for their new puppy. If the crate is too big then the dog ends up using one side as their bedroom the the other as their bathroom. In addition to size there are many different crate options. For training I recommend either a wire crate or a plastic travel crate. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.


Step 2
Give the crate some value. At this step you need to have some tasty treats for you pup. (I always recommend natural balance dog food rolls.) I want you to get your puppy relaxed and taking treats right outside of the crate. Once the dog has taken a few treats out of your hand and off of the ground in front of the crate, throw a couple of treats in the crate. I want you give the command “crate” and mark the behavior with a “good” or “yes” when your puppy goes in the crate. NOTE: At this point the door to the crate should stay open allowing the dog to go in and out as it pleases. Stay at this step for a bit, and keep tossing treats inside.


Step 3
Access is a privilege. By now your pup should be excited about going in and out of the crate. Next, time Fido is out of the crate, I want you to put a bunch of treats inside and close the door. When the door is latched closed, stand back and watch your pup try to figure out how to get in. When the dog is trying it’s best to get in, open the door, let the dog in and close the door behind him. Don’t lock it; just hold the door closed. When Fido turns to come out, hand him a treat through the gate and then open it. Repeat this step a few times, and your dog will begin to love his crate.


Step 4
Add duration. Repeat Step 3 and gradually start leaving the door closed longer; always giving treats before opening the door. If this is going well, then it’s time to close and latch the gate. Once you latch the gate, throw a couple of treats in from the front and the sides, then step away from the crate. Gradually add more time when you step away before returning to give treats through the door. Once you’re able to step away from the crate for 30 seconds or more, you’re ready for Step 5.


Step 5

Jackpot. At this point, Fido is taking to the crate nicely, and it’s time to leave him in there for a little while. You need to up the ante here… get a marrow bone, a frozen kong with frozen peanut butter in it, or a bully stick. You need a treat with high value that will last a while. Note that some dogs will be more concerned about getting out than the treat you leave in there. The key here is to leave the dog in the crate regardless at this point. NEVER let the dog out of the crate when they bark or whine. If you do, you’re reinforcing their tendency to bark or whine when you put them in there. Wait a minute or so for them to stop and settle before you let them out again.


In conclusion, If your dog is still giving you a hard time about going in and staying in the crate, I would recommend feeding all meals in the crate and putting the dog’s water bowl in the crate. If your dog won’t go i there to eat, then he’s not really that hungry. Also, give Susan Garrett’s Crate Games a try. It can make the whole experience a game for your dog. Happy Training!

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