Crate Training a Dog - Things to Avoid

In the same way chocolate cake can be the downfall of a well-disciplined diet, there are a number of things that can bring down a dog's crate training.

Sometimes we all need a little guidance when it comes to correcting our bad habits. Think about your diet. When you were younger, you could come home every day and have a rich, moist piece of double chocolate fudge cake. As you get older though, alterations to your diet have to be made. Well, how are you supposed to know which foods are bad for you and which foods give you the nutrients you need? Research! The same goes for crate training your dog. Nobody naturally knows the perfect training method for having a happy, healthy crate trained dog. However with the help of this article, we will give you all the information on the things that could negatively impact your dog's progress.

Don't Reward and Punish Your Dog for the Wrong Things
During the delicate process of crate training, it is important to avoid rewarding your dog for certain behaviors and punishing him at certain times.

Don't reward a crying pup. This will only re-enforce his bad behavior.
  • Often times, dogs will start to whine in order to get released from their crate, but don't reward the whining. Instead if you want to release your dog, wait for the whining to stop and then 10 minutes later release him. This will prevent a dog from learning that whining will gain a reward. Sometimes, your dog will whine because he needs to eliminate. In these cases, you will still want to wait to release him from the crate until the whining slows down. After that, take him outside immediately, so he can do his business. The key to the entire process is not rewarding your dog for whining!
  • Another thing to remember is not to reward your dog immediately after he is released from his crate. This action will only re-enforce that getting out of the crate will lead to a treat and make the crate training process much more difficult.
  • As you are trying to crate train your dog, it is also important that you do not punish your dog while he is in the crate. This will only build negative associations with being in the crate. Instead, feed him treats, reward him, and talk to him while he is in the crate!

Don't Keep Your Dog in for Too Long
Some owners that use crates will keep their pups caged up for too long. This can be detrimental for crate training.
  • Do not keep puppies in their crates for too long! Early on in the crate training process, accidentally keeping a dog in his crate for too long is more likely to happen because most people don't realize that young puppies should actually spend very short amounts of time in their crate. One reason for this is that they are not properly crate trained. Without proper crate training, puppies may start to panic and build a negative association with the crate. In addition, puppies do not gain full bladder control until they are 6 months old, so they need to be taken outside of the crate to relieve themselves as often as possible. If these puppies are forced to stay in the crate, they may relieve themselves inside and think of their crate as dirty.
  • Keeping a dog in his crate for too long can lead to depression, claustrophobia, and a number of other psychological disorders, especially when it happens at an early age. According to Mike Paddock of Medical News Today,
    Exercising is important to a dog's health and well-being.
    "Claustrophobia is generally the result of an experience in the person's past (usually in their childhood) that has led them to associate small spaces with the feeling of panic or being in imminent danger." The same goes for your dog! So, don't keep your dog in his crate for extended periods of time if he has not been properly trained. Eventually, after a certain amount of training, dogs will learn their crate is a good place for rest and view it as a safe haven.
  • Even after your dog has been crate trained properly and enjoys spending time in his crate, you don't want to keep him in there too long without the proper amount of exercise. The more time he spends in his crate means the more time he should spend outside exercising. This will help him to avoid depression and lethargy.
Don't Put the Wrong Things into the Crate
While crate training your puppy, it is imperative to make the environment of the crate as comfortable as possible.
  • It is important not to line your dog's crate with newspaper or housetraining pads. This will only re-enforce that it is okay for a dog to relieve himself in his crate. Nobody wants to sleep in the same space that defecation happens, especially your dog. Instead, bring him outside before and after spending time in his crate, so he will develop better habits. Don't Make the Crate a Big Deal Crate training your dog can be challenging, but it is important that you make the experience as casual as possible. If the dog picks up on your calming cues, then he too will view the crate as a comfortable, casual place.
  • In the beginning stages of crate training, do not put your dog in the crate and immediately leave the room. After getting him inside of his crate, it is better to sit next to him and talk to him and casually leave the room for a couple of minutes. Eventually, you will build up the amount of time that he feels comfortable being by himself until he is completely crate trained.
  • Don't turn getting in and out of the crate into a huge event. Instead, make it as casual as possible.
  • When you are getting ready to leave or coming back from a trip, don't make it into a big deal. The best way to do this is by putting your dog in his crate 15-20 minutes before leaving. This will minimize associations between you leaving and being in the crate. Also, it is smart to put your dog in his crate during times that you will be home to further minimize these associations.
  • Don't follow the same routine day in and day out. Mix up the amount of time he spends in his crate prior to your departure. Anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes would be best.

If you plan on using a crate, it is important that your dog has the proper training. By understanding some of the things not to do, the entire process will be more effective and your dog will stay happy. If you have any further questions about dog crates or crate training, feel free to e-mail or call us at Pet Street Mall anytime. We love all animals and take pride in providing you with any information you may need.

By: Tim Snyder
Paddock, Mike. "What Is Claustrophobia? What Causes Claustrophobia?" Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 21 Apr. 2011. Web. 17 June 2013.
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