A crate, when used correctly, can be a highly effective tool for training and managing your dog. Once a dog feels safe inside a crate, it can used as a short term training tool, and in some cases prevent destructive behavior.
This article will teach you how to prepare your dog for the crate and how a crate can be used for housetraining.
Getting Ready For Crate Training
The size of a crate can have a major impact on the overall success of your training efforts. A crate should be large enough for the dog – when fully grown – to stand or stretch in. When your puppy is very small, it’s often a good idea to start with a smaller crate so that the dog feels more secure. A crate that’s too large may encourage the dog to eliminate in one corner away from his bedding.
It’s important to remember that crate training is a short term tool. Some dog owners inadvertently misuse the crate, and resort to confining a dog to avoid dealing with bad or unwanted behavior. The crate should only be used as a training tool while you provide additional training, and should never be seen as punishment by the dog.
Dogs are highly individual animals with different characters and personalities. Many dogs enjoy being in a crate, as the confined space makes them feel safe and secure. Some dogs never settle in crates though, and others can panic when the door is shut.
Make sure you monitor your dog and check for any signs of distress. If a crate makes your dog anxious, you should stop using it immediately.
How To Crate Train Your Dog
Ideally, you should try to introduce your dog to a new crate over the course of a week or more. This allows the dog time to adjust and prevents anxiety. Most dogs, however, don’t need to be eased into a crate this slowly, so if you don’t have a week to spare a shorter introduction period should be sufficient.
The easiest way to crate train a dog is to make the crate a comfortable, fun and relaxing place for your pet to be. Start by leaving the door open and placing some treats or a toy inside. Let the dog find the treats himself, so he gets used to entering the crate on his own. Over time, the dog will associate the crate with fun things and will want to go inside.
Once the dog starts to become comfortable in the crate, start putting the dog’s dinner bowl inside with the door open. Some dogs are bold and will go straight into the crate, but for others you may need to put the bowl at the door of the crate and gradually move it back over time.
By this stage, the dog should be comfortable in the crate for short periods. It’s now time to teach your dog a command for the crate, such as “in your bed”. Speak your chosen phrase, then immediately throw a treat into the crate. When the dog goes to pick it up, give him lots of praise and affection.
The next step is to get the dog to enter the crate before you throw the treat, which may take more time but often comes naturally with practice.
Once you’ve given your dog plenty of time to get used to the crate, you should start closing the crate door. When the dog enters the crate on your command, praise him and provide a treat before closing the door. After a short time allow the dog back out, checking that he seems calm and relaxed.
Gradually increase the time that the dog spends inside the crate with the door latched. If the dog doesn’t appear to become anxious, start leaving the room for short periods.
House Training A Dog Using A Crate
House training is always the first hurdle that any new dog owner must face. When you first bring your puppy home, it’s important to monitor him so that he can quickly be taken outside when eliminating.
It’s impossible to keep an eye on the dog all day though – especially at night time – and this is where a crate becomes useful. Dogs naturally dislike soiling the area that they sleep in, so a puppy is likely to avoid going to the toilet while in the crate. If you contain your dog within the crate whenever you can’t monitor him, you can control where the dog eliminates.
Another benefit of putting your dog in a crate overnight or for a short time during the day is that you can predict when the puppy needs to go to the toilet. A dog that’s been shut in a crate all night is likely to be desperate by the morning. This means you can take the dog outside without guessing when he needs to go, reducing the chances of accidents in the house.
How Long To Use Crate Training
Confining a dog in a crate overnight is usually safe, as the dog’s metabolism slows down while sleeping. This allows him to go through the night without needing to eliminate. During the day, even a dog with full bladder control shouldn’t be left in a crate for more than five hours.
A young puppy that’s less than 10 weeks old shouldn’t be left in a crate for more than hour, as he won’t have full control of his bowels. As the dog gets older, you can gradually increase the time he spends in a crate.
Eventually, the goal is to trust the dog enough to let him be in parts of the house when you’re not around. This doesn’t mean you should get rid of the crate though – it can still be used for the dog’s bedding with the door open.
Read more: How To Pet An Unknown Dog