There are many reasons to use a crate to help raise your best friend. Todays modern dogs are descended from wild canids, wolves, a creature that lives in a den for the first year of their life. The den experience provides our dogs wild relatives with safety from the elements and other predators. It gives the young puppies a place to stay while the older wolves go hunt and forage for food. Today, we use a crate to replicate the den experience for our domesticated canines.
Replicating this ancient instinct for our dog provides a safe place for them to stay when we are away from home. Properly using a crate for your dog can help prevent problem behaviors from occurring. If you ever have the need to fly your dog with you on a trip, then using a crate in their daily lives will keep them prepared, should they ever need to travel with you on a plane. The crate can also travel with your dog if they ever go to stay with a relative or a friend of the family.
The crate can also be a tool for helping to relieve separation anxiety in our canine companions. When a dog looks at their crate as a safe warm place to be this provides them with a sense of security and safety. This alleviates anxiety in general and can be a tool to help our anxious companions.
For the crate experience to be a good one it is important that it be introduced positively. The crate is never to be used as a punishment and doing so can ruin your dogs crate training experience. Follow my simple steps and your dog will be positively crate trained in no time. The following steps can be condensed into a weekend for younger dogs who have never had a bad experience with crate training, but may take longer to re-socialize an insecure dog to their crate.
1) Make sure that the crate you choose is size appropriate for your dog. Older dogs who are house trained can have a larger crate, but if you are using your crate for house training it is important to follow the “bed size… not bedroom size” rule. I personally recommend the airline style plastic crates, I like the sense of security my dog gets from the enclosure, but the wire crates work just as good. Either style will work.
2) Take your time getting your best friend used to the crate. Toss a treat inside the crate and encourage your dog to enter inside. I like to use the request “In Your House” as I do this. Immediately praise reward and encourage your dog to come back out. Repeat this 5-7 times in a row every 20-30 minutes until your dog is going in and out comfortably then move on to step 3.
3) Now begin to close the door of the crate behind your dog after they enter and say “In Your House”. Still toss a treat inside and now give an additional treat through the crate door. Immediately let them out and give plenty of praise for a job well done. Repeat this 5-7 times in a row every 20-30 minutes until your dog is going in and taking the treat at the door easily then move on to step 4 .
4) Once your dog is excited about entering the crate and accepts the door being shut behind them happily, it is time to start this next step. The idea is to begin extending your dogs time in the crate. Have your dog wait inside the crate and give a rewards through the door in “Rapid Fire”. To do this give a reward every 3-5 seconds at first. Build up to doing this for 1-2 minutes and begin step five.
5) Begin changing the time in between treats to a variable timed reward. Sometimes treats come in a quick succession, others there is a 10- 40 second gap between treats. Build your dogs time in the crate from several minutes up to 45 minutes or more using this technique.
6) Start walking out of the room and eventually the house by leaving and quickly returning and rewarding your dog several times in a row. Build your dogs time in between rewards and stay gone for longer chunks of time.
7) As your pup gets more comfortable with the crate experience begin pushing the time in the crate to several hours and overnight. At this point, phase out the treats but I recommend giving your dog a stuffed Kong toy or other special treat before you leave home. Limit your dogs time spent in their crate to a reasonable amount (generally a max of 3-5 hours). If left for longer periods a fenced outdoor dog run or dog walking service should be used.
Follow these steps and you will have a dog that loves and enjoys their crate, providing them a sense of security for life.
David Kabler has been training dogs since he was a boy and has been in training professionally since 1995. You can find out more about his unique training style by liking his Kabler School For Dogs facebook and instagram pages. David is available for lessons in Asheville, NC and surrounding areas. Call today to schedule you and your dogs consultation. David will evaluate your dogs personality and training needs and, it’s absolutely free. (828) 337-5792