Crate Train Your Dog
Published August 5, 2021
It’s a great idea to crate train your pet. Crate training new puppies helps with housetraining. You will have help from Mother Nature in this task, because dogs do not like to soil their dens. Proper use of the crate can also prevent your pet from picking up unsafe behaviors, like chewing things they shouldn’t, while you’re not able to supervise them.
In addition, adult pets will benefit from crate training if you’re trying to correct destructive behaviors, encourage calm behavior when guests visit, and making your pet feel comfortable and secure — especially when crated for travel or hurricane evacuations. The secret is to make your pet’s crate time a positive experience. Here’s how.
Introduce the Crate
- Experts recommend exercising your pet before crating to reduce energy and anxiety, so plan to walk or play with your pet before using a crate or starting a training session.
- Keep the crate in an area of the house where there are people, such as your living room.
- Open the crate door and start by putting small treats around the entrance to get the pet comfortable near the crate.
- Put a treat inside the crate. Some pets may go right in, but others may take a little longer to gain the confidence to do so. Sometimes, it may take several days. Whenever it happens, remain patient and reward your pet with praise and treats when they do go in. Don’t force your pet to go in the crate. Remember – you want your pet to see the crate as a safe, comfortable place.
- After your pet has entered the crate, continue to provide treats before they leave so they associate staying in the crate with a reward. Keep the door open so your pet can go in and out of the crate freely at first before you try closing the door.
- Put away your pet’s favorite toys in the crate. Once your pet realizes that all good things can be found in the crate, you’re gold!
- Leave a t-shirt you have used (yes, before washing it) in the crate. Your pet will be comforted by your scent. This also helps pets who are already crate trained during a trip. Be sure to monitor your pet though, to make sure they don’t chew the shirt.
Getting Comfortable in the Crate
- Another way to make your pet feel more at home in the crate is associating it with mealtime. Start by feeding your pet near the crate, and then try feeding inside the crate.
- If your pet is comfortable eating with the door open inside the crate, try closing the door during meals and then leave it closed for a couple of minutes afterwards.
- To get your pet used to staying in the crate outside of mealtime, lead your pet in with a treat, close the door, and leave the room for a few minutes. Start by leaving for small increments, and then increase by larger periods of time. Experts recommend leaving a safe chew toy to keep your pet from getting bored.
Please note that pets should not be crated any longer than 4 hours at a time.
Important Info on Crate Training
- Buy the right crate size for your pet. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around.
- For safety, always remove your pet’s collar/harness before crating.
- Pet trainers often recommend rubber chew toys for crated pets. Some are hollow, so you can put treats or peanut butter inside to keep your pet entertained. Avoid plush toys and bedding, as your pet could ingest the stuffing if unattended.
- If your pet prefers sleeping on a blanket, provide one, but be aware that pets who have not been housetrained may pee on them.
- Keep a mounted water bowl attached to the side of the crate. It will minimize any spills.
- Never put your pet in their crate as a punishment or “time out”.
- If you are not able to head home every 4 hours to let your pet out for exercise and a bathroom break, find a dogwalker or pet-sitter to help out.
If your pet is taking a while to crate train and you cannot leave them unattended, it may be a good idea to find a doggy daycare or kennel until your pet can gain more independence at home.
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