The Do's and Don'ts of Dog Cage Training

When cage training your pup, it's helpful to know the strategies that will get the best results and those that won't.

Cage training takes time and patience because most pets won't pick it up immediately. However, you can utilize certain tools to help make the experience less stressful and more enjoyable for your pup, and by paying attention to the details and working with your dog it will come to enjoy the cage and think of it as his special place.

Every Dog is Different but the Techniques Remain the Same

The amount of time it will take for a dog to become cage trained varies depending on your dog's personality and age. However, there are two very important points to remember when undertaking the cage training process: The cage must be associated with something enjoyable and your dog must not be rushed through the process.

You've got your favorite spot on the sofa, a dog crate can be your pet's favorite spot
First Impressions Count
It's perfectly natural for your dog to be hesitant to get inside the cage at first, and you will have to build his confidence around it.

Do -
place the cage in an area where the family spends a lot of time. This will create a social association in the dog's mind and the cage will become 'his spot'.
Do -
put a blanket or bed in the cage to make this positive association even stronger and to create a pleasant environment within the cage.
Don't -
put newspaper or a housetraining pad in the cage. This will indicate that it's okay use the cage as a restroom.
Do -
take him outside before and after spending time in the cage to reinforce the housetraining message and help him develop good habits.
Don't -
immediately enclose your dog in the cage; give him time to trust it and explore it at will.
Do -
leave the cage door open all the time at first to prevent your dog from feeling anxiety at being enclosed.

Ring the Dinner Bell!

Doggy treats - always a good way to get a pup to cooperate!
Now that your dog is comfortable getting into the cage it is important to keep creating positive associations. Mealtimes are one of a dog's most enjoyable experiences and if he relates his cage to meals you'll have established a very powerful association.

Do -
begin to feed your pup his meals in his cage. You may have to begin by placing his meals near the cage's door and move each subsequent meal closer and further inside.
Don't -
give your dog treats immediately after he leaves the cage. He will associate getting out of the cage with receiving a treat and therefore reverse the cage training process.

Be Strong and Ignore the Whimpering
During the early stages of cage training dogs will often start to whine. Be strong and don't give in!
Do -
ignore your dog's whimpering to be let out and wait to open the cage door for about 10 minutes after he stops whimpering.

Don't -
try to quiet your dog by giving him a treat. This will only reinforce the notion that whimpering will earn a reward.

Do -
reward your dog for good behavior in the cage. If he goes in when you tell him to, remains quiet and doesn't whine then by all means give him a treat for such good behavior.

Don't -
punish your dog when he's in the cage because this will only build negative associations with being inside the cage.

Soon your dog will think of his cage as his 'special place'
Lengthen Stays in the Cage Little by Little
Some owners keep their pets caged up too long, which can lead to depression, claustrophobia and other psychological disorders. According to Mike Paddock of Medical News Today [1], "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."

Do -
start your pup with short amounts of times in the cage. This will prevent any negative associations about the cage forming and help him grow accustomed to his new surroundings.
Don't -
keep your dog in the cage for too long at first. Start slowly and extend the length of time your dog stays in his crate. Eventually he will view the crate as a safe haven.
Do -
remain with your dog while he is in the cage at first, then leave him alone for a while so he can adjust to being by himself.
Don't -
make a big deal out of the cage; make the experience as casual as possible. Put your dog in his cage 15-20 minutes before leaving the house to minimize the association between the cage and you leaving.

Once fully cage trained you will be able to leave your pup alone, safe in the knowledge that he is safe and more than happy in his personal space.

If you have any further questions about dog cages or dog training, feel free to call or e-mail us at PetStreetMall anytime. We love all animals and take pride in providing you with any information you may need.

By: Tim Snyder & John Bone
[1] What Is Claustrophobia? What Causes Claustrophobia? - Mike paddock, Medical News Today, MediLexicon International.
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