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Crate Training for Dogs

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Are you worried about leaving your dog, especially a puppy, home alone? Are you afraid that your favorite pair of shoes will become a dog toy during the night? If so, maybe you should consider crate training your best friend.

What is crate training? Crate training is simply teaching your dog that the crate is his new indoor “dog house” or bed. It may take some time, but it can be used in a variety of situations: to secure your dog while you are away, to transport him safely in the car, and to take him places where he is not allowed to run freely. Crate training is not meant to be used as a means of punishment, but rather it is meant to prevent any problematic behaviors from being established. To achieve positive results from your training efforts, the association with the crate should always be a positive one. Contrary to what you might envision, the dog will actually like going into his crate and it will be a safe “den” for him to go on his own. Make the crate training process a fun game; doing so will help the dog learn faster and better, and house-proofing your dog will be easier on both of you in the long run.

Step 1: Select an Appropriate Crate for Your Dog

  • Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in.
  • The crate may be plastic, or a collapsible metal pen; both are available at most pet stores in various sizes.

Step 2: Introduce Your Dog to the Crate

  • Because you want your dog to feel like he is part of the family, place the crate in a frequently used room of the house.
  • To encourage your dog to enter the crate, place small food treats near the crate, then just inside the door, and finally all the way inside the crate.
  • Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food.
  • Don’t rush this process; otherwise, the dog may become anxious. You always want to create a pleasant association with the crate.

Step 3: Teach Your Dog to Go Into the Crate for Longer Periods

  • Call your dog over to the crate and give him a treat. Then throw a treat into the crate and give him a command to enter such as, “Rocky, crate up.”
  • After your dog enters the crate, praise the dog and close the door. Sit near the crate for 5 or 10 minutes, and continue praising the dog only if he is quiet. If he becomes noisy, walk away. When he calms down, praise him and give him a treat.
  • Gradually increase the length of time he is left in the crate. Make sure to include times when you are out of sight. Crate him for increasingly longer periods when you are at home or away, so he does not associate the crate with always being left alone. And remember, never use the crate as a form of punishment, make it your dog’s comfort zone.
August 14, 2014

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