Tips on Stopping Dogs' Fear of Crates

Take your dog outside before bedtime and exercise him so he is ready for crating.
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Crate training can keep your dog from eating furniture and other things he shouldn't and prevent him from soiling the floor while you are away. Dogs are descendants of wolves and are pack animals. Traditionally, dogs prefer a den, or an area that is all theirs for napping and a secure, safe setting. Some dogs are fearful of being locked in a crate. Correctly training your dog to use a crate and understanding his fears can disperse frightfulness and help make his a happy dog.

Crate Placement

Place your dog's crate in a high-traffic area of your home to start training him. He is part of your pack and needs the reassurance that he is allowed in the living room with your family. If he can interact with your family and see you when he is crated, he will be less likely to think of the crate as a scary environment and more likely to see it as a piece of furniture in the living room that belongs to him.

Introduction to Crates

Offer your dog a tasty treat and praise him for taking it from you. Make a line with a few treats that lead to the crate. Remove the crate top so it doesn't look as confining to your four-legged friend. Place a treat in the rear of the crate. Praise your dog and give him lots of love for entering the crate to gobble up the treat. Do this a few times so he will go in and out of his crate without fear. Place his food bowl outside the crate door for meals for a day, then move the food bowl into the rear of his crate. Replace the crate lid and offer his meals in the crate. When he is comfortable with the top on while eating, close the door while he eats his meal, and then immediately let him out. He will start viewing the crate as a good place.

Time in Crates

Place your dog's favorite blankett in his crate and encourage him to go in and lie down on it for a nap. This works best if he is already sleepy. Close the crate door and let him nap inside. Slowly increase the time you crate your dog with the door closed while you are home. This gives him the idea that he is not alone, but in his own area. Start leaving him in the crate while you run errands for a short time. Do not leave a young dog in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. He can't hold his bladder for very long periods and if he makes a mess in his crate, it will make him anxious.

Nighttime Crating

Place a blanket over your dog crate to cover the sides, top and rear. This gives the crate a warm and snuggly sensation like a den. Place your dog in the crate and make certain there are no drafts that enter the crate door to make him cold. Assure your pet that he is okay, and place a ticking clock near his crate. Consider leaving a night light or small lamp on for the first few nights so he is not in total darkness. Some light assures him that you are home, even though he can't see you.

Crating Observations

Observe your dog from around a corner or another room while he is in his crate. If certain sounds in his area make him whine or bark, move him to another area that is quieter. Some dogs get anxious when the doorbell rings and act adversely to escape their crate. Make certain that other pets do not torment your dog while he is crated and that children do not bother him. He may feel insecure while crated and others are not. Soothe his fears if he whines, and reinforce good behavior and being quiet with treats and praise.