Kenneling on cue is a useful skill for every dog to know. You can use kenneling to manage behavior or provide security in new environments. You may also need to kennel your dog at the vet, in a training class or when traveling. To teach an adult dog to kennel on cue, start with these easy tips.
Before training, be certain you have the right equipment. You will need a properly-sized crate. Your dog should be able to stand up and easily turn around. Also have a bag of treats available. If you are trying to control your dog's weight, ration out a portion of his daily kibble. Some dogs have previous kennel training history, but refuse to kennel on cue. Should this be the case with your dog, try a different style crate and start from the beginning with these methods.
Shaping Interest in the Kennel
Begin by placing the crate in an area that is out of the way, but still in view of daily traffic, like the corner of the living area. Open the door fully to begin each training session. When your dog approaches the crate to sniff, say "yes" and toss a treat inside. Allow your dog to retrieve the treat and immediately leave the kennel. Repeat 10 to 15 times and end the training session. Do this three to five times each day until your dog is remaining in the kennel on his own. When he does, toss in a handful of treats and move on to the next step.
Shaping the Closed Door
Now that your dog is going into and remaining in the kennel by choice, it is time to start closing the door. Begin each session by opening the kennel door. When your dog enters the kennel, say "yes," toss in a treat and tap the kennel door shut. Do not latch it yet. Immediately open the kennel door and let your dog leave. Repeat 10 to 15 times each session, three to five sessions per day until your dog remains in the kennel after you open the door. At this point, move on to the final step.
Shaping the "Kennel" Cue
At this point, your dog should happily run into the kennel each time you open the door to begin a session. If not, go back a step until he does. For these final sessions, open the door, say "kennel" and toss in a handful of treats when your dog enters the kennel. While your dog is still picking up the treats, close and latch the kennel door. As soon as he is done eating, open the door and let him out. Repeat 10 to 15 times per session, slowly increasing the length of time before opening the kennel door. If your dog begins refusing to enter the kennel, reduce the length of time you keep the door closed until he is comfortable.
Additional Tips and Resources
Once your dog is entering the kennel on cue, you can extend the time he remains content by providing him with something to do inside. A Kong toy stuffed with canned food is a great way to work your dog's mind while he is kenneled. If you find you are still having difficulty teaching your dog to kennel on cue, seek the help of a certified professional dog trainer.
Shelly Volsche has worked as a professional dog behavior consultant, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and a diploma in canine nutrition. She has written for "The Chronicle of the Dog" and Lucky Dog Magazine and is currently pursuing her PhD in anthropology with a focus on pet parents.