Crate Training Your Dog
Tags: Obedience, Training, Crate, Dogs, Puppy, House Train
Crate Training Information & Introduction
Crate training is the process of teaching dogs to learn that their crate is their home, their safe place where they can be at peace and know they won't be bothered.
Picture of a dog crate:
Photo ©2005 Big Paws OnlyCrate training shouldn't be a hard task to do. Once they get used to their crate, many puppies and adult dogs will retire their every chance they get as they know from training that this is theirs - and no one else's. Usually they have their favorite toys inside there which adds to their worry-free, happy home. It also serves to protect them during times where supervision isn't available, housebreaking, and many other things we'll discuss below. Crate training does not mean using the crate as an area to punish. In fact, never use the crate for this purpose. This will train your dog to hate his crate and will only cause problems.
Arguments For & Against Crate Training
There are several arguments for and against using crates with dogs and my family for one used to think they were inhumane. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but lets debate this for a minute. The main argument against crate training is the cruelty. I used to feel this way at one time but when you understand the truth of crates, your feelings too might change. If trained correctly, dog will understand that this is a safe place for them to retreat to if they ever get scared, feel there is a challenge, etc. Most dogs also find comfort in a crate knowing they can retire there for rest and know they are protected from outside activity or disorder as inside their crate they have "familiar surroundings" that is comfortable and usually their favorite toys. If used incorrectly, crates can be inhumane. I personally think of it as only inhumane when in the wrong hands - as those people will tend to use them at anytime simply to get the dog out of the way. This is absolutely WRONG behavior.
When used correctly however, the crate can be used for many beneficial things. It can even be used for additional training such as house training or potty-training. See the below link for more information on using a crate for house training:
Because dogs don't like to urinate or defecate in places that they eat and sleep, (and one such reason you will use treats inside the crate as a reward) you can use the crate as a guarantee the puppy won't potty until he or she is taken outside. Of course there are no guarantees but you will be able to condition your pup to control his bladder and bowel movements better starting with a small period of time, gradually moving on to 2 hours, then 4 etc. One of the best reasons to use a crate is for your dogs on safety. There are many circumstances that warrant a safety issue, from perhaps passing rescue dogs that are extremely aggressive, to having an environment not suitable for dogs (of which we hope you're working on.) Another reason is travel - crates serve to keep the dog safe in the back of the car but also serve to keep your pup happy during stressful travel situations such as a plane flight. Their little home away from home, their "comfortable surroundings" will help lessen the anxiety and stress from being away from their companions as they will have familiar toys, smells etc. Overnight stays at the vet's office will also help your pup when staying in their crate.
Tips on How to Crate Train Your Dog
Crate training is actually very easy for most dogs. The best way to train them is to make it fun by playing games and using favorite treats - sometimes this means using the really good ones. Once you set up the crate open the door and place some of your dirty laundry on the floor. This might sound strange but an tee shirt just recently used will make the crate familiar and trustworthy as he trusts your smell to take care of him. Then begin throwing treats inside driving him to get in to get it. Don't close the door. Continue tossing his treats in toward the back of the crate and make it fun - hoop and holler and praise him continuously. Eventually try to keep him in there to wait for the next food toss. Ultimately he will get tired and just wait for the reward where it is going to land.
To continue the crate training, use a stuffed Kong toy with peanut butter or another favorite treat and place it in the cage. If the crate is large enough lay down inside with him and keep him calm by stroking him. If he leaves just repeat the process until he too lays down and enjoys the treat. At this time you can close the door. He won't understand completely but he's busy - what the heck. Once he finishes, let him out and reward him with great praise! He's going to be a crate trained puppy!
Now give it some time before he has to practice crate training again. Perhaps wait until bed time where he will have the option to get back in - with great encouragement on your part and again with more treats and praise. Once he can settle in the crate for a few minutes, leave the room for a minute. He will slowly begin to understand that your presence is not always going to be there but that you will always return. Gradually make your absence a bit longer each time.
Do this for a couple of days increasing your absence more and more and he should do fine. Some dogs will take longer, some less. Always make sure they are calm and are rewarded when entering and exiting the crate. Do not remove them if they are barking but rather when quiet as you want to teach them good habits. Soon, crate training will be accomplished and your dog will feel comfortable in his crate.
Remember, while crate training - Always reward!
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