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Feb 21

I Love My Crate – Five Steps To Crate Training!

Crate training with healthy pet treatsI have been asked many times if dogs should be crate trained.  My answer has always been yes, if it is done correctly.  I say this because crate training done in the right way can be a great experience for your dog. When done wrong, it can be a very scary experience. There are many reasons to crate train your dog.  When he goes to the groomer or gets dropped of at the vet, they are normally put in crates.  This can be terrifying to a dog that has not been crate trained.  Housebreaking is much easier when a crate is used and it helps keep your dog safe when you are away.

There are several things to consider prior to purchasing a crate.  The size of the crate is the most important.  The crate should be large enough so your dog can stand, sit and turn around in it comfortably.  If you are training a puppy, you might want to consider a crate that can grow as he grows.  Many crates come with dividers that can be moved as your pup grows.  The location of the crate is also important.  For smaller dogs, they are easy to move and can have several locations.  For larger dogs, it’s best to choose one location and keep it there.

Once you have your crate set up, it’s time to start training.  I have found the following steps to very helpful in making crate training a positive experience.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use a crate for punishment or time out.  This is probably the most important point when it comes to crate training.  The goal is to teach your dog that his crate is a safe place, not a place for punishment.

1) Good things happen in my crate

Open the door and let your dog see you toss in a healthy pet treat or his favorite dog toy. Encourage him to go in and get it, but leave the door open so he can come right back out.  Continue doing this for five or ten minutes at a time until he is entering his crate with confidence

2)   Watch for your dog to go in his crate on his own

At some point in training, your dog will wander into his crate on his own.  Watch for this action and when you notice, walk by and give him a treat.  If he comes out before you give him the treat, don’t give it to him.  You don’t want to inadvertently reward him for coming out of the crate.

3)    Closing the door

When he is confident about going into his crate, toss in a healthy pet treat or toy, let him go in his crate, close the door and open it immediately.  You will want to do this for five or ten minute sessions.  This step is to teach your dog that is okay for the door to be closed while he is inside.

4)    Increase the time

When he is comfortable with the door closed and immediately opened, slowly increase the time he spends in his crate.  Make sure you only increase it by several seconds at a time until he is comfortable for several minutes.  This teaches him that it’s okay to stay there for longer periods.

5)    Increase your distance from the crate

After completing the third step, it is time to start moving away from the crate while he is in it.  The important part of this stage is to not reward him for the wrong behavior.  It is always good idea to use a Kong dog toy stuffed with his favorite treats for this step.  Place the Kong in the crate. He should go right in.   Close the door and step back several feet or just around the corner.  It’s important to come back quickly and before he starts whining or barking.  It is a good idea to have him sit before you open the door.  Slowly increase the distance and the time you are away from the crate.

If you have been consistent and practiced the above steps, you will have a dog that will love his crate and will go in it on his own to lie down or to just chew on a toy.

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