The day you come home to find your house in shambles will be the day you wish you'd crate-trained your dog. Although locking your dog behind bars might seem cruel, to your pet companion the crate is a safe retreat that he can go to when he wants privacy—it keeps him from getting in trouble when you can't watch him, spares your furniture and can promote house training. With patience, persistence and plenty of dog treats, your furry friend will be lounging in his crate in no time.
Select the right crate size for your dog. He should be able to stand upright, lie down, stretch and turn around in the crate. If your dog is a puppy, save money by buying a crate that fits his adult size and comes with a partition to make it smaller. As your puppy grows you can move the partition back to make the crate bigger. Avoid using a crate that's too big if your dog isn't housebroken, otherwise he might use one end as a potty and the other end as a resting area.
Make the crate inviting to your dog. Put a blanket and dog toys in it, and place it in an area of the house that's often visited by family members so your pet companion doesn't feel isolated. (See References 2)
Introduce your dog to the crate. Toss some treats near the entrance of the crate to lure him closer to it. Then place some treats in the crate and wait for your dog to eat them. Never force him into the crate—let him explore at his own pace. Praise him when he goes in, and give him some more treats. Repeat this several times, making sure to always reward your dog with treats when he's in the crate so he associates it with pleasant things happening.
Feed your dog his dinner in the crate. Place his food near the crate and praise him after he eats it. Gradually move the bowl closer to the crate and, when your dog seems comfortable, put his food inside the crate near the entrance so he only has to stick his head in to eat it. Gradually move his food farther to the back of the crate, until your dog is standing inside it while eating. Lock the door to the crate and open it when your dog has finished eating. Gradually extend the confinement period with each feeding. Aim to reach a 10-minute confinement.
Show your dog some treats and say, "Crate" or "Kennel up" while pointing at the crate. When he goes inside, give him the treats and lock the door. Sit near the crate for five minutes, leave the room for 10 minutes and spend another five minutes near the crate. Open the crate and repeat this tactic several times, making sure to gradually extend the period that you leave your dog alone. When your dog can stay in the crate for half an hour, you can try confining him for longer periods, including during bedtime.
Items You Will Need
- Dog toys
- Dog treats
- Dog food
- Always have your dog go potty before you leave the house and confine him. Have him run and play so he tires himself out and might decide to take a nap while confined.
- Ignore your dog if he's whining or barking in the crate. If you pay attention to him, you're reinforcing the behavior and he'll continue making noise.
- Never use the crate for punishment, because your dog might start fearing it and might not want to go near it.
- Avoid confining your dog for too long, because he might think of it as punishment and get anxious or depressed.
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