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Crate Training 101

Posted: Thursday, Oct 24th, 2013

By Jon Andus

ANDUS K9 Training

Teaching your dog to relax in his crate and enjoy the time spent there is a good way to ensure his safety, as well as a way to keep your home free from damage caused by chewing or other destructive behaviors.

There are several ways to teach your dog to accept his crate. Here I will explain the simplest forms.

What type of

crate works best?

First you must decide what type of crate is going to not only suit you best but what is going to suit your dog. A metal collapsible crate sometimes called a “show” crate, with a plastic tray for the floor is a good choice, as long as the crate is large enough for the dog to stand, turn, and stretch.

Some dogs feel more secure if a blanket is draped over the crate. But watch them because some dogs will try to pull the blanket into the crate and shred it. A plastic “traveling” crate or a homemade crate can also be used.

I would recommend that you not use playpens, baby gates or barricades as many dogs can escape these and destroy them out of boredom.

Where should you

put the crate?

Dogs are social animals, so the ideal location for the crate is a room where the family spends time such as a kitchen, living room, in a bedroom or where the dog sleeps at night.

Make it a positive experience

Most dogs will quickly choose a specific area in the home, such as a dog bed, the couch or the corner of a room where they go to relax. If you have recently gotten your dog from the breeder, rescue, kennel, pet store or neighbor, crate training should be fairly easy since he is likely already accustomed to being in a crate.

The key to making the crate your dog’s favorite relaxing place to be is to associate the crate with positive experiences. Place the dog in his crate when giving him food, treats or toys and during his rest and sleep periods.

You must plan and be aware of his needs such as play, food, and elimination, make sure your dog is only placed in his crate after these needs have been met. If your dog gets excited in his crate and won’t settle down, try turning a radio or TV on.

This works well when the dog is alone. The crate should never be used for punishment or become the “sin bin.” Once you make the crate a negative thing you will have nothing but trouble trying to get him in it.

How do you start?

Proper introduction is a must. Introduce your dog to the crate as soon as possible. First, open the crate door (keep it open) and place something inside that has your scent on it. Place a variety of treats and toys in the crate so that he is encouraged to go in voluntarily.

Food can be placed in the crate if you wish to feed your dog in the crate. Praise your dog with excitement every time he goes into the crate for the first day or two. Place your dog in his crate every time you see him settle down or whenever you can’t keep a watchful eye on him and shut the door.

Be sure to keep a few toys in his crate so if your dog doesn’t take a nap while in his crate, he can play with his toys to keep him busy.

You can leave the room but it is wise to remain close by so you can hear your dog. Sooner or later, your dog will try to escape his crate and let you know his displeasure at being in it. This behavior is to be expected when crate training.

If his cries are short, simply ignore him. Never let your dog out of the crate unless he is calm and quiet. This teaches him that calm quiet behavior will be rewarded.

You can let your dog out after a few minutes of him being quiet. A brief loud noise may be useful to deter his crying if he doesn’t stop on his own. A shaker can (a sealed can filled with rocks or marbles) can be tossed toward the crate when the dog first starts to bark.

Other methods include water sprayers, hair dryers or alarms. Keep in mind that you must remain out of sight. By plugging in an alarm or hair dryer beside the crate and turning it on by plugging it in (in the other room) each time the dog barks, the dog can be taught that barking is unpleasant whether you are present or not.

When the barking stops, simply unplug the device. Slowly increase the amount of time you leave him in the crate. It is good to remember to always give your dog exercise and a chance to go potty before putting him in the crate.

At night, the dog should be fed, exercised, given a chance to go potty and placed in his crate and left alone for the night.

It is important to know that you should not go to your dog if he cries. It is common for dogs to potty in their crate at first. If this happens place some sort of divider in the crate to make his crate smaller.

But it is also your responsibility to never leave your dog in his crate longer than he can hold his bladder or bowels. The standard rule of thumb is that a dog can hold its bladder one hour for every month since they’re born, up to six months of age. For example, if your dog is four months old, he should be able to hold his bladder for four hours during the day.

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