Crate training might be a new concept for many pet parents, but it’s a great tool for conditioning puppies and dogs. Your dog could take some time to become comfortable with a crate, but this helps you teach your dog about the concepts of boundaries, confinement, safety, responsibility, and independence.
You’ll be able to easily enclose your dog when you’re travelling in your car, leaving it at a boarding kennel, or visiting a vet or groomer. Apart from being a training tool, a crate also provides a dog with a safe place where it can stay calm and relaxed.
Basic Requirements For Crate Training
A few decisions have to be made before crate training. These are as follows:
Choosing the Crate
Your dog should have enough space in the crate to stand up, sit down, turn round, and lie down. You can purchase crates from pet supply stores or online. Variants include airline kennels, wooden crates, metal wire cages, and foldable fabric crates.
If you have a puppy, you could get a crate with adjustable partitions. This’ll let you remove the partitions as it grows. Make sure that the crate is not too big which can lead to your puppy urinating inside.
You can checkout our guide to the best soft dog crates for more ideas.
Selecting the Spot
It would be best if you placed the crate in a quiet spot away from direct sunlight. Make sure that there are no electrical wires, radiators, heaters, cooling vents, or poisonous plants in the vicinity.
There are many important factors that determine the location the crate should be placed. Some of these factors include the presence of other pets, traffic sounds from outside, vibrations from appliances, and soundness of your sleep. You can keep the crate in your bedroom, living room, or kitchen.
Placing items inside
You can make the crate comfortable for your dog by choosing a soft bedding material that’d keep it warm. If your dog has the habit of chewing, you could place veterinary bedding until it grows out of the habit.
Get some tough chew toys to keep your dog occupied in the crate. This way you’d be able to prevent your dog from chewing bedding or any other item outside the crate.
Dog Crate Training Steps
The time required for crate training varies from one dog to another. This is due to factors such as age, personality, and life experiences of the dog. Follow the steps listed below to crate train your dog or puppy.
Step 1: Let it go out
When you’re planning to put your dog in the crate, make sure that it gets sufficient time to play and poop outdoors. Take your dog to its crate after its activities are over. This way they’ll start seeing the crate as a resting place.
Step 2: Create a positive outlook towards the crate
As mentioned in the above steps, make the crate hospitable for your dog with interesting toys and comfortable bedding. Let your dog explore the crate on its own.
If your dog appears to be hesitant, you could place some treats to lure them inside. Use a specific word/sound whenever it enters the crate. You could then give it a toy, treat, or a food puzzle so that it learns the correct behaviour.
Initially, place the feeding bowl near the entrance with the door open. Later on, you can move the bowl further inside and close the door during feeding time.
Step 3: Increase the duration of the training sessions
Once your dog starts having its meals inside the crate, you can then begin to close the door for a few minutes. Let it get familiar with crate commands and encourage it with treats for listening. Stay near the crate for 5-10 minutes and then leave the place for a minute. Once you go back, let your dog outside.
You can conduct multiple crate training sessions in a day. Slowly increase the time it stays inside and the time you’re away from it. Allow your dog to sleep inside, once it can stay calm unattended for 30 minutes or more.
Step 4: Apply crating to real-life scenarios
Leave your dog in the crate for longer durations with a few safe toys. You can put it in the crate when you’re going out in your car, having guests at home, sleeping, or visiting the vet. Make sure that your pet does not associate crating with social isolation.
Gradually, stop giving it treats when you return and only let it out once it’s calm. At night, you can place the crate in your bedroom, then slowly move the crate away to the desired spot. Make sure that you are gentle so that it does not associate crating with social isolation.
Precautions For Crate Training
Some important points that’ll help you with dog crate training.
- Ensure that your dog gets its fun time and toilet time outdoors before every crate training session.
- Advance slowly with the crate training so that it becomes easy for your pet dog to learn.
- Keep your arrival and departure low-key to keep its anxiety, anticipation, and excitement under control.
- You could play relaxing music or use calming pheromones to help your dog with the crate training.
- Give treats, food puzzles, and toys to praise the dog for good behaviour.
- When your dog doesn’t behave, make sure that it’s punishment has nothing to do with the crate.
- Keep your dog engaged with a food puzzle or a toy to several minutes before you head out.
- Hire a pet-sitter or leave your dog at a day-care if you have to be out for the whole day.
- When you get back home, allow it to leave the crate only when it is calm.
- Make sure that your dog’s crate is not close to any dangerous materials like electrical wires or poisonous plants.
- Use a different phrase/sound to confirm that it needs to be let out to attend the call of nature.
- If your puppy is under 6 months, then limit each training session to 3-4 hours at most.
- Place the crate away from vibrating machines like washing machines and dishwashers.