Crate Training Your Dog
When you first bring home a sweet little furry bundle of joy, putting him or her in a crate can seem cruel. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend time in a cage, so why would your dog? But, if done correctly, crate training is actually one of the best things you can do for your new puppy. In fact, dogs of every age can benefit from having a crate. Dogs are pack animals and are instinctively drawn to living in a cozy den. In the wild, a den is where your dog would have slept, raised puppies, and hid safely away from danger. When used appropriately, a crate can provide this same feeling of a safe home base for your furry friend. The key to creating a safe crate space for your animal companion is to know how to use it.
The first step is selecting a crate. Be sure to get one that is the right size. Dogs tend not to eliminate in their dens, so having too large of a crate may give them the sense that they can eliminate at one end and sleep at the other. Get a crate just large enough for your dog to turnaround while standing. This will help your dog to feel cozy and prevent him or her from eliminating in the crate. If you’re selecting a crate for a puppy, theHumane Society recommends getting a crate to fit your dog’s adult size and using an insert to make it smaller. When the puppy grows, you can move and eventually remove the insert. Alternatively, you can try renting a crate from a local shelter and then just move up in size as needed.
Crate training will be largely dependent upon your dog’s temperament, history, and age. Younger dogs who haven’t learned to fear the crate will train faster and easier than others. Whatever your dog’s experience and feelings about the crate, it is essential to train your dog to only associate the crate with positives and to go slowly with the process(paws.org). It is very important to never use the crate as a place of punishment, as your dog will make negative associations with the crate and not want to go in it.
Once you have selected the crate, follow these steps to train your dog to love it:
· Create positive associations with the crate by dropping treats near the crate, then inside the crate. Encourage, but don’t force, your animal to enter the crate to get the treats. Once your animal is comfortable getting treats from the crate, you can move on to feeding him or her there. Again, begin slowly by placing the food dish near the crate, then progressively inside the crate depending upon your animal’s comfort level. Once your animal is comfortable eating inside the crate, you can close the crate door while he or she is eating. Open it as soon as he or she is finished at first, then progress to longer intervals with the door closed. If your dog whines to get out, it is imperative to not give in. This will teach your dog to associate whining with getting what he or she wants.
· Once your dog is comfortable staying inside the crate, you can move to leaving him or her in there while you go out. Put your dog in the crate five or ten minutes before you will leave, then go without making a fuss.
· Keep your dog in the crate to sleep at night. When your dog is a puppy, keep the crate near your sleeping area so that you can hear when he or she needs to go out to eliminate. Eventually, your dog will sleep through the night, and then you can choose whether or not to keep the crate near your sleeping area.
In general, you will want to keep the crate in a living area that is frequently used by the family. Do not put your dog in a crate alone in another part of the house. This will cause him or her to become anxious about being in the crate. Additionally, don’t leave your animal in the crate for long periods of time. Puppies need to eliminate at least every three to four hours, so they shouldn’t stay in the crate any longer than that. And all dogs need companionship and stimulation. If you must be away for a longtime during the day, consider using a doggy daycare or having a dog walker or friend come over to let your dog out of the crate for a while every day. If your dog needs to spend long days and nights in the crate with just a short time of freedom in between, he or she won’t want to go in the crate at all.
Crate training can be quite beneficial to your dog. It can help your animal companion to feel safe and secure through the night and when you are not able to be home with him or her. Be sure to follow our tips so that your pup will love the crate like a den.