When it comes to training dogs, crate training is one of the most important pillars. Crate training dogs makes them more obedient, easier to control and helps them grow into calm and well-adjusted individuals by providing them with a safe, quiet space.
Additionally, crates can assist with house training and can help curb destructive behavior such as chewing when dogs are left home alone. If you want to teach your dog to love crate time, follow these simple steps:
Get the Right Crate
In order for your dog to feel safe and comfortable in a crate, you need to ensure that the crate is the right size. Opt for one that allows your dog ample room to stand up and turn around but is not so large that he or she can walk around inside at will. Ensure that the construction of the crate is sturdy enough that your dog cannot get out and that there is no space large enough for a dog to put his head through.
Once you’ve chosen the ideal crate, make it comfortable by lining it with a cozy bed and including a few toys for your pooch. If you have purchased a wire crate, throw a blanket over it to make it comfortable. Place the crate in an area that gets lots of use, like the living room and leave the door open for a few days to allow your dog to get used to the sight, smell and feel of the crate.
Start Feeding the Dog in the Crate
Once the dog has had a chance to get used to the crate’s presence, begin putting your pup’s dog bowl into the crate at mealtime. This will help your dog associate the crate with positive experiences and help mitigate fear the dog may feel about the confined area. When it’s not mealtime, toss a few treats into the crate to give the dog a reason to go in and explore. As the dog gets more comfortable, begin closing the door during meal times and placing the food bowl in the back of the crate itself.
Begin Formal Crate Training
Once your dog is comfortably going into and out of the crate on his own, begin training the dog to enter the crate on command.
Begin by sitting beside the crate with the dog. Gesture inside of the crate and give the dog the crate command. Many pet parents choose simply to use the word “crate,” although some say “go to bed” or something similar. The command that you use does not matter as long as you use the same one every time.
Once you’ve given the command, hold a treat in your hand so that your dog can see it and then toss it toward the back of the crate. When the dog goes into the crate to eat the treat, praise your pooch and offer another treat before the dog comes out. Providing plenty of enthusiastic, positive reinforcement helps your pup learn that the crate is not a scary place. Allow the dog to exit the crate and repeat the process.
As the dog becomes more comfortable with the crate, begin closing the door after you’ve given the crate command and start practicing leaving the dog in the crate, for short periods at first, working into longer spells as the dog gets more relaxed.
Try this method to teach your dog crate training, and you can use it as an obedience and safety tool for years to come.