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Crate Training Tips

Crate Training Tips : Creating a Cozy and Inviting Den

There are many reasons that getting your dog used to a crate is convenient for you.

  • Visiting friends
  • Traveling in the car.
  • Management while children are moving about.
  • Helps to separate in multi dog homes.
  • Provides a safe and secure place for your dog while you are not at home.

    The reactions I get when I suggest a crate be used and available for dogs of all ages vary. There is often a mixed or guilty feeling about crating your dog. Here are just a few reasons your dog may appreciate his den and comfy spot.

  • It allows a safe and predictable place for a dog to chill out during hectic family times. (He may even Thank you!)
  • It helps dogs to control urges to redecorate your house or yard.
  • It can be especially comfortable during storms. (blankets over the top can add comfort)
  • It can be a great place to take really yummy treats to enjoy privately!
  • It can help your dog to be familiar with being crated or in a cage if ever he is kenneled or stays over at the vet.

    There are two main types of crates. The plastic/travel crate can create a more secure feeling for some dogs as they are surrounded on all sides. The wire crate is more open and some dogs prefer the openness to the surrounded feeling. If one type does not work consider trying the other type.

  • What you put in the crate is up to you. Some dogs will destroy anything in there and all attempts to put comfy bedding will be wasted. Know your dog and observe them before leaving them unattended with anything they can ingest. Personally for dogs that leave the stuff alone I like to use a bathmat on the bottom and a non spill water bowl for them. This has worked well for me. Find out what your dog likes and what gets him into destruction mode and go from there! The bottom line is this is a special spot for spot and what is comfy for us may not work for him.

    How to introduce this new comfy spot to your dog.

  • Set crate up and allow your dog to investigate this new foreign structure in his home.
  • Later the same day cut up or shred some hot dog into small bits. Heat it up slightly to get it really smelling GOOOOOOOOD! Sprinkle this on the inside of the crate and then close the door. The dog being left out.
  • Once he is sniffing the crate and interested. Say things like “what’s in your crate? Do you want to see what is in your crate?” Let him wonder long enough for him to be excited by the crate door. Ahhhh he wants in!
  • Say “in your crate!” In a happy voice and allow him to get in and reward himself by cleaning up the hot dog.
  • End exercise with door open and allowing him to go in and out freely as he chooses. When you catch him in the crate be sure to use the word to identify his crate in a happy way. “Good crate!”

    Do this exercise several times right in the beginning. Ideally you want to catch him going to the crate inquiring if there are goodies in there. Acknowledge and praise his interest and put goodies in there while praising him with his crate name etc.

  • Once he is comfortable and expecting treats in there then begin closing the door for short periods of time rewarding him for quiet behavior every now and then. The time you leave the crate closed with him inside will vary. Start with short periods that fit your dogs’ needs.

    If he barks, whines, whimpers DO NOT let him out until he is quiet. If this behavior gets a response from you then it worked and he will do this again expecting the same response from you.

    *** Turn your back to the crate. You can even squat down putting your back against the door of the crate. Once he is quiet tell him “good quiet.” Offer him a treat then. Then let him out. Once he calmly responds to this consistently then require that he looks at you to get out of the crate or to be treated.

    Doggie in / Doggie out game

    I love to see dogs excited and have fun learning. This game is so simple and silly but fun. Toss a treat in the crate so that your dog sees you doing it. Say something like “want to go in????” in a really fun voice. Once he looks at you (not the treat) immediately open the door and say Good dog, crate etc.

    Once in the crate you can close the door and put a treat on the outside of the crate and play the same way. “Want to come out???”” Once he looks at you (not the treat) let him out and praise him!


    Activities for in the crate

    It is important that your dog enjoys his time in the crate. Having toys can be great as long as they are safe. Supervise your dog if he enjoys rawhides or other chewies. If you use a Kong be sure that you observe him with it prior to leaving it in the crate unattended.

    There are many wonderful toys that are meant to be stuffed with good stuff for your dog to enjoy while in his comfy spot. You may also find that freezing the stuffing while in the toy will extend your dogs attention to the task of getting all of the goodie out!

    Window watchers.

    If your dog is a “busy body” and enjoys neighbor watching consider carefully where you place his crate. What can he see? And if he sees out of the window will he bark every time someone drives by, walks by, runs by? If so then a spot away from the view may be the best for all. You also want to be sure that the crate is not in a place that is too hot or too cold for comfort.

    Can I use the crate for TIME-OUT?

    Time Outs should be done very calm and unemotionally. So, if you choose to use the crate as a Time Out I would suggest that you make it boring and with minimal response from you. All other times are going to be happy and accompanied with a treat as often as possible. This will be the difference in the uses.

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