Having a dog is like having a new member of the family, but just like with a toddler, your pet can get up to mischief without some good crate training basics to teach them to understanding your boundaries.
Or maybe your dog will not react well to guests (or maybe is too friendly with and demanding attention from guests), or vice versa – maybe your guests are fearful or uncomfortable around dogs, so you need somewhere to keep her and your guests safe from disturbing each other.
First things first, you need to learn some dog crate training basics to introduce your dog to her crate and get her to start entering it and feeling comfortable with the door closed.
A crate enables you to house train your dog, reducing stress and anxiety for your family, your guests and your pet. They also come in handy for keeping your pet safe and secure while transporting him or her from one place to another. Let’s look at some basics in dog crate training to get your pet to accept and start using their crate.
Choosing The Right Crate Build And Size
There are several different types of dog crate that you can choose from. Finding the best dog crate for you and your dog will depend on the purpose for which you want the crate, whether your dog is a puppy, a fully grown trained dog, or a fully grown untrained dog.
If you have a fully grown untrained dog, you may want to go straight for a heavy duty escape proof dog crate to be sure your pet will be kept secure. The Impact Case Collapsible Dog Crate is one of the best in class, although it does have a price tag to match. The ProSelect Empire Dog Crate is also a solid cage and a firm customer favorite at a more moderate price.
If your dog is a puppy or is already housebroken or at least unlikely to try to break out of his crate, then the Midwest iCrate Pet Crate or Midwest Life Stages Dog Crate is a great choice. If your pet is still a puppy it saves you money as it includes a divider to ensure that your pup always has access to only the right amount of space in the crate as he grows to his full adult size.
After determining which type of crate to get and before you go ahead and buy it, you need to ensure that the crate is large enough for your pet to fully stand up, turn around, and comfortably lay down in. If your dog is already an adult, then you simply need to measure her from the tip of her nose to her tail and from the top of her head to the floor, while she stands normally with her head raised.
If your dog is a pup then things are slightly different, as she is still growing. So you will want a cage that will not give her excess room, but which is adjustable to give her more room as she grows to avoid a lot of expense replacing crates.
Fortunately you can buy crates that are designed to accommodate a dog from puppy to adult with an adjustable with a divider to ensure that your pet gets just the right amount of space she needs as she matures from puppy to a fully grown dog.
One key thing to bear in mind with crate training is that you are training your dog to understand that it’s a good thing for her to use the crate, and that she should also regard it as her own personal den that she can retreat to, and not as a form of punishment.
So be patient from introduction of the crate through to training your dog. While this article just covers dog training basics, the most effective and quickest way to train your dog to use her crate is to employ a crate training schedule to establish patterns and routines that help her learn quickly.
How To Introduce Your Dog To A Crate
Keep Your Pet’s Crate Within Sight
Crate training basics with your dog begin with putting the crate in the part of the house where you or other family members spend a lot of time – usually the living room, as the last thing you want is to teach your pet that that the crate is a form of isolation, away from other people, giving her separation anxiety and other potential behavioral issues.
In the wild dogs live together in packs; in your home, your family is her pack. Dogs also appreciate having a confined space to retreat to when they are tired to make them feel safe and secure. If she does not learn that this place is her crate, then she will find a table or something else to use instead.
Is It Comfortable For Your Pet?
If the crate has a hard floor or grill floor, you may like to place a soft towel or dog bed in the crate to soften the floor, especially if you are fortunate to be receiving a puppy or an adult dog where potty training is already sufficiently advanced, if not fully completed, so that you can feel confident that your pet won’t relieve herself on the towel when you eventually close the door.
Leave the crate door open while introducing your pet to her crate, so your dog can freely examine the crate on her own, which she surely will do.
As a puppy is still learning to control her bladder and bowel, you may like to keep a few paper towels or housebreaking pads for use in the crate during periods of getting her used to being in the crate with the door closed, but this should only be for short periods and very temporarily, as you want to be using the towels outside the crate, so your pet learns that they are to eliminate outside of their crate. Ideally don’t use them in the crate at all if possible.
Use Toys & Treats To Form A Positive Association With The Crate
You may also put a toy inside the crate that the dog only gets to play with when she goes inside the crate, or otherwise put in one of the toys that you know she likes to play with. If she comes out with it, you can let her play with it for a while, and then remove it when she get bored with playing with it and put it back inside the crate.
If your dog is a pup, or if she keeps bringing the toy outside of the crate, you could also tie the toy to the back of the inside of the crate, just make sure there isn’t enough slack for the pup to get herself trapped and hurt herself.
Also a good crate training basics step is to tempt your pet into entering the crate by leaving some doggie treats near the crate and eventually move to putting the treats inside the crate. Never force your dog to enter the crate, even if she won’t go inside at first.
And when she goes in don’t close the door yet, she needs to get comfortable with the crate and have pleasant feelings about it. So keep her first experiences of the crate associated with treats, and if she goes into the crate be sure to praise her so she knows she’s done a good thing.
Should You Feed Your Dog Meals Inside The Crate?
Feeding your dog inside the crate is optional. Some people will move straight to closing the crate door once their dog gets used to receiving treats and praise, and readily enters her crate, and then is given another treat or two through the mesh or bars while inside the crate.
If you try this and your pet seems distressed or reluctant to get the treat as she starts to see it as a trick instead of something that pleases you, then you may move onto getting her to feed inside the crate, so she associates the crate with receiving a good meal.
Whichever method you use, a good crate training basics tip is to start introducing the word or phrase that you want her to learn as your command to go to her crate. This could simply be “crate.”
To teach her to feed in the crate, like with treats, start off by feeding her a few times near the crate, moving the bowl closer to the entrance of the crate each time. Then for the next few feeds you will place the bowl first inside the front of the crate, then the center, and then the back.
If she refuses at any point go back a step and repeat a few times. Be patient with this process until she will accept her food bowl being placed at the back of the crate.
Once you have successfully got your pet to eat from her bowl at the back of the crate, you can close the door. When you do this for the first few times, you should open the door immediately when your pet finishes her meal, so she doesn’t get alarmed.
Then move to leaving to door closed but remaining by the crate for 30 seconds, then a minute. Once she happily accepts this you can then move to increasing her time in the crate.
Getting Your Pet Used To Remaining Inside The Crate
After the next few times feeding or treat giving in the crate, the next step in crate training basics is to leave the door closed for 3 minutes after she has finished feeding. Remain in sight. If she barks and whines, ignore her until she stops, so she knows that you will not come on command.
When she learns to behave for 3 minutes, then increase the time by another 3 minutes. You should remain in sight at all times and ignore any barking and whining so she associates calm behavior with being let out and not her barking and whining.
When she no longer barks and whines while she is in the crate, then you can spend some time going out of sight, just be sure not to return until she goes quiet, and if she starts when you return, wait for her to go quiet before letting her out.
The exception is if you notice your dog getting very anxious and maybe looking like she could harm herself. In this case you have moved too fast for her and need to let her out and take a step back to the previous time. Do not praise or reward her when you release her.
Once she has become comfortable being in the crate with the door closed for a few minutes during the day, you can then move to crate training at night. This will be most effective if you either have a second crate or relocate the sole crate from the living room to the bedroom, so your pet feels more comfortable and secure knowing her “pack leader” is nearby to watch over her.
When your pet learns to remain calm for half an hour in the crate when she can’t see you, you can now train her to stay in her crate when you leave the house. Just remember to be patient, as this may take some time. Some dogs learn quickly, others after a few days, a few may even need a week or two before they will happily stay in the crate without getting upset when you are out of sight.
Also keep in mind this very important crate training basics point; the crate should always be associated with pleasant things like food, toys, and praise, and never punishment. You want your dog to learn that sometimes you will ask her to go there, and that she is doing a good thing by doing so.
She should also want to go there herself when she wants to rest, or gets bored and wants a bit of privacy. In the evenings you may want to use a dog crate cover to make the inside of the crate feel more like night time and help her settle down. We hope that you enjoyed reading this crate training basics article, thank you.