10 Steps To Positive Crate Training
In a previous article we have discussed in depth about the pros to having your dog crate trained. So now that you are convinced that it is a good idea, went and bought one and now you are looking at it and wonder what on earth to do next? Fear not! Follow our 10 easy steps below and you and your dog will master crate training in no time. Always remember easy does it, take it one day at a time.
Rules to follow:
1. Make sure the crate is big enough. You do not want a crate where your dog is squashed up and uncomfortable. Your dog must be able to stand upright, turn around comfortably and be able to lay down and stretch his or her legs. If you are unsure, ask your petshop assistant for advice.
2. When introducing the crate at first, leave the door open so that your dog can freely go in and out at will to get use to the the space.
3. Put comfortable bedding in that your dog will love to lay on.
4. For the first few days, feed your dog inside of their crate. Leave the door open when you do that, do not attempt to close the door. What you are trying to achieve is to let your dog know the crate is a safe place they need not fear. If they are not used to confined spaces, closing the door of the crate will most certainly create a negative connection for them.
5. If your dog is a little bit hesitant to go in and explore inside the crate, you can put some yummy treats in for them which will more than likely tickle their fancy. After all, if there are treats inside it can’t be so bad, right?
6. Never ever use the crate as a punishment. This will give your dog a negative connection to the crate. What we want to create is a space where they feel safe and secure, not punished.
7. By the end of week one, when your dog is occupied inside of the crate you can close the door for a few small minutes. Take note that this should be whilst the dog is occupied, be it having his or her meal or chewing on a yummy treat. Once you open the door and let your dog out, give them high praise and lots of cuddles so that they know it is a good thing.
8. From the second week on you should have established a positive connection between your dog and his or her crate. You can now start to leave the door closed for longer periods. This should not exceed more than three hour periods however, as your dog will need to go out for toilet. Unless a situation arises as discussed in our article about why crate training is important, we do not recommend keeping a dog locked up in their crate during the day without good reason.
9. When you decide that your dog is ready to spend their first night sleeping in the crate, make sure that you tire them out enough that they will be sleepy and ready to rest. Do not lock an overly excited and full of energy dog up in his crate. They should be able to fall asleep exhausted and satisfied.
10. When your dog choses to visit his crate by himself, this will be a sign that crate training is complete. Your dog will use this space as a retreat and you should encourage the rest of the family to respect that as his personal space.
- If your dog cries or complains, do not pay any attention and open them up. This way they will learn that kicking up a fuss gets them freedom, which means their behavior is rewarded and they will keep doing it. If they have had food and water and been to the toilet you can ignore them for a bit and only intervene if they risk injuring themselves by biting or scratching at the cage.
- You can leave a toy in the crate to start off. You will find later on when crate training is complete that they are not bothered with toys and you may remove it then to use outside during play time.
- Your dog will not require a constant supply of food and water to be left into the crate. With meals you should anyway not have food down all the time and as your dog will only be in the crate for short periods and sleeping overnight, water should not be required.
- Exceptions can be made in extremely hot weather. You can take your dog out more often or leave a little bowl of water supply.
- Regardless of age, it is perfectly fine to expect your dog to sleep through the night in their crate. During the day, confined hours should not exceed 3 hours for pups and 4 hours for adults. You should always allow for two good long walks as well as free play time in the garden or around the house to make up for any confined time during the day