How Do I Crate Train My Puppy or Dog?

Cookie is a pivotal part of her family's lives. See how professional trainer, Joanne Barrett helps this dog family grow stronger.

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Where does your dog prefer to nap - under a table, desk or coat? Dogs feel secure in a small, enclosed space; it’s like a den to them. You can recreate that feel – and develop a healthy training environment – with a crate.

The Principle Behind Crate Training

Dogs like small, enclosed spaces because of the security it offers them. Crating is not “jailing” your dog, and the crate should never be used for punishment. Instead, it draws on your dog’s preference for small spaces and allows you an extra measure of control over your dog. If you practice preventative training, your dog will spend time in the crate when you aren’t around to set boundaries.

Crates are also helpful when working to housetrain your dog. Dogs try not to eliminate in the same place where they sleep. If you keep your dog in a crate when you’re not together during housetraining, your dog will try to hold it until you let him out and take him outside. Your job is to keep a reasonable schedule with plenty of chances for your dog to eliminate and play.

You can teach an older dog new tricks, but know that crate training him will take a bit more time and patience.

Choosing a Crate
• Choose the right size crate for your dog. Your dog should have enough room to stand up, turn around and lie down - anything bigger and he may eliminate in one end and sleep in the other.

• Make the crate comfortable with a blanket or pad.

Practicing Crate Training
• Introduce your dog to the crate in a low-pressure situation, not when you’re about to leave. Leave the door open and let your dog explore.

• Remove all collars before you crate your dog.

• If he is frightened by the noise of a metal crate on a hard floor, put a towel or mat underneath the crate to muffle noise.

• Toss a treat – ideally a kibble of food – into the crate, then use a simple word like ”kennel” to get your dog to enter.

• Feeding your dog in the crate (with the door open) will create a positive association.

• Praise your dog and close the door. Then, open it after a few moments.

• Slowly increase the time your dog spends in the crate with the door closed.

• Don’t open the door because your dog whines; doing so will only teach him to whine more.

• A general rule for determining how long your puppy can be confined is one hour per age (in months), plus one hour. For example, most three-month old puppies can stay in their crates for four hours.

• Do NOT crate your dog for more than eight hours. It is unfair to leave a dog without a chance to eliminate or exercise any longer than that.

• The more confinement your dog has to cope with, the more exercise he needs daily. Crating is a tool that should never be used to avoid training, exercise and spending time with your dog.

Maintain a regular schedule of trips outdoors so he can relieve himself - and so the reason for the trip outside is clear, always take your dog on a leash to the same place and praise him when he eliminates.

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