Training a dog how to use a crate is like teaching a child how to ride a bike.
Dog Crate Training
Teaching a dog that his crate can be a safe and relaxing place goes a long way towards you and your dog having a happy and healthy relationship. When undergoing the training process, it is important to know the best strategies available.
Imagine teaching a child to ride a bicycle. We all know that it takes a lot of time and patience. Most children can't pick it up initially. For some, it takes time practicing with training wheels and others need to be guided under the close tutelage of a teacher. As a teacher, you can utilize tools that can help make the experience safer and less stressful: helmet, elbow pads, etc. Then, there are tricks like teaching a child to ride in the grass to protect him from the hard cement. All of these approaches help to make the experience of learning to ride a bike as effective and pleasant as possible. In the same way that you have to pay attention to details when teaching a child, you must pay attention to the details and try different strategies out when training your dog to enjoy his crate.
Every Dog is Different, but the Techniques Remain the Same
The amount of time that it takes for a dog to become crate trained varies depending on your dog's personality, age, and experiences. However, there are a couple of important aspects to remember when undertaking this process: the crate should be associated with something enjoyable and your dog should not be rushed through the process.
At first, your dog may be hesitant to get inside your crate, but that's okay. It's natural. During the beginning stages of using a crate, place your crate in an area where the family spends a lot of time. In the dog's mind, this will create a social association. It will become his spot, just like you and your family members may have a favorite spot on the couch. Of course, putting a blanket or bed in the crate will make this positive association even stronger.
Also early on in the process, you may want to keep the door to the crate open at all times or even take it off, so the dog feels comfortable exploring the new area. This will help prevent him from feeling the pressure of being immediately enclosed. If your dog is still hesitant, try dropping treats near the cage's entrance and eventually deeper inside of the crate. Sooner or later, your dog will venture inside for those treats, even if it's not right away. The same technique can be used with his favorite toy!
Remember, that this process may take a matter of minutes or a few days, but don't lose patience. When you are training him, keep your voice in a soft and friendly tone because you don't want the experience to be traumatic. First impressions can often be the lasting impressions.
With the proper training, your dog will learn to love sleeping in his dog crate.
Ring the Dinner Bell!
After first introductions have been established, it is important to keep creating the positive associations. The best way to do this is by feeding your pup his meals in his crate. Initially, you will want to place his meals near the crate and move each subsequent meal closer and further inside. Soon enough he'll be eating all off his meals in his crate and will have the best of associations.
Lengthen His Stays Little by Little
In the beginning stages of training your puppy, you will want to start off with short amount of times in the crate. This will help to divert any negative associations and help the dog grow accustomed to his new surroundings. Don't forget, being placed in a small space for too long can be traumatic without proper preparation. When your dog does go in the crate, praise him and give him treats. Try spending a few minutes sitting next to him with the door closed and leaving the room for a couple of minutes, so he gets adjusted to being by himself. If he starts to whimper, don't let him out immediately or he will learn that whimpering will get him out. Instead, wait a couple of minutes and let him out when he has calmed down. Also, do not reward him immediately when he does leave the crate. This will only re-enforce that being outside is a good thing and treat-worthy. Once your dog can stay in the crate for 30 minutes without you watching over him or him crying, you know that he can be left alone in his crate for short periods of time and eventually over night while he sleeps.
Crate training your puppy the proper way will go a long way towards your dog's mental health. Once he is trained, there are a few things that you will want to avoid, so your dog does not develop bad habits or become frightened of his crate. Check out these issues in our Crate Training a Dog- Things to Avoid article.
If you have any further questions about dog crates or dog 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