If you think confining your canine pal to a crate will instantly teach him the merits of crate training, think again. Crate training is a slow process that's most successful when your dog associates the crate with pleasant experiences, and it can take several days to several weeks until he makes that connection, says the Humane Society of the United States. Your pet companion's past experiences, age and temperament all influence the process, as does the way in which you introduce your dog to the crate.
Before starting the training process, ensure the crate is just large enough so your dog can turn around and stand up in it. Avoid getting a crate that's too large, because otherwise your dog might use one end as his potty area and the other end for resting. Ideally, use a crate that has an adjustable partition so you can make the crate larger as your dog grows. Place the crate in a frequently visited area of the house so your dog feels part of the family and not like he's being punished.
To you, your dog's crate might look like a jail, but to your pet companion, who's a den animal at heart, it's a safe, secure retreat where he can rest, play and lounge. Confining your dog while you're teaching him the house rules will keep both parties happy. Your dog's crate protects your furniture from damage when you're unable to supervise him, and it promotes the housebreaking process, because dogs dislike soiling their dens.
To introduce your dog to the crate, place treats or toys in and around it so your furry pal associates this new contraption with pleasant things. Allow him to explore the crate in his own time. Never force him into the crate. Start feeding him his food near the crate and eventually move his food bowl into the crate, leaving it close to the entrance so he can still stand outside the crate while he eats. Gradually move the bowl further into the crate until he's standing in the crate while eating his food.
The next step in the training process is to close the crate door while your dog is eating; after every meal, increase the duration that the door remains closed. Aim for a 10-minute confinement after he's finished his food. Then confine him throughout the day and move out of his sight for 5 minutes at a time. Gradually increase this duration as long as your dog seems okay with it. Once he's comfortable being confined for 30 minutes, crate him at night or when you leave the house, starting with short periods and gradually extending them.
During the crate-training process, observe your dog, because he'll let you know if he's anxious or scared in the crate. If he whines and you know he doesn't have to go potty, don't let him out of the crate, because otherwise he'll keep whining each time he wants out. Wait for him to calm down before releasing him. Also, use your dog's age to determine how long to confine him, because If he's younger than 6 months, he might not be able to hold his bladder or bowel for longer than three or four hours.
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