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Crate Training 102: How to Crate Train my Dog or Puppy

Here is a step by step process to follow to help your dog or puppy learn to love the crate*.

Step 1: There are two main types of crates to choose from.

Types of crates:

 

  • Wire (made from sturdy metal bars, sometimes come with multiple doors and dividers)

  • Airline (plastic and enclosed with one door)

 

I prefer wire crates but really either one is fine.

Step 2: Find the right size crate.

  • If you already have your dog or puppy you can measure your dog in order to find the right size crate.

  • Your dog should have enough room to stand up, turn around and lie down. 

  • If it is a puppy and potty training is still in process the puppy should have the same amount of room keeping in mind they should not have enough room to potty and step away from it.

 

Step 3: Make the crate a positive place.

  • The crate should NEVER be a place of punishment. It should be a safe place that your dog or puppy likes to go on his own.

  • Feed him in the crate. He will learn to expect that. 

 

  • Having "crate only" chews and toys will make the crate a special place where the dog can expect something great to happen.

  • I recommend Kong brand toys. They are made in the USA and are customized for all ages and sizes.

  • Never allow your dog or puppy to have these "crate only" toys and chews outside of the crate. 

  • You can stuff these toys with boiled chicken, carrots, treats, kibble or anything that your dog or puppy loves. 

  • Leave the crate door open so that your dog or puppy can explore without pressure.

Step 4: Make the crate comfortable for your dog or puppy.

You will need to furnish the crate depending on the breed. If your dog does not have a lot of natural cushioning or gets chilly easily (i.e. sighthounds, small breeds) he might appreciate padding or soft cushioning in his crate. If your dog is a large breed with natural cushioning and gets hot easily (i.e. Mastiff type breeds) they may not want anything to lay on.

 

TAKE NOTE: Be careful with puppies as they may like to chew/eat blankets and beds. Be sure to supervise your puppy with these materials prior to leaving them alone with the chosen bedding.

 

 

Step 5: Here are some ways to eliminate separation anxiety.

 

TAKE NOTE: Whatever you do, be consistent.

 

  • Cover the crate, especially at night. Sometimes if the dog or puppy can see you they will whine and cry. 

 

  • Put the crate in a quiet room where you can shut the door.

  • Give your dog or puppy something to do in the crate to keep them entertained (see step 3).

If your dog or puppy is not satisfied with those ideas you may need to condition him to like the crate. 

Start slow and use your dog's favorite treat (boiled chicken, hot dogs, cheese, etc).

Step 1:

 

a. Bring the dog to the crate (put him in it if he will not go in) and say "kennel" or some word you will use EVERY TIME to indicate what you are doing.

 

 b. Give the treat to him when he is in the crate (or set it on the crate floor (I do the latter because it makes the dog think the treats come from the crate). If he will not go in the crate, gently put him in it.

 

c. Leave him there for a few seconds with you still standing there. Do this several times before moving on.

Step 2:

 

a. Do "Step 1" but instead of staying in the room start to walk out and leave the door open. Only stay out for 10-20 seconds.

b. Do this several times and as the dog is quiet you can leave him longer and longer.

c. Increase the time until you can leave for 5-10 minutes without whining/barking. Do not rush this part. Long and steady is better than hasty practice.

d. Begin to leave the dog with the room door shut following the process in steps "a" through "c".

 

Rules: 

 

Be Patient

Do not rush the training. It may take a couple of days for this to work.

NEVER let the dog or puppy out when he is making noise. Only

let him out if he is quiet*.

 

Make a big deal (be excited and happy with him) about him GOING IN the crate. DO NOT make a big deal when you return.

 

When you come home (or during training) open the crate door, walk away and once you have moved to another room you may pet him and talk to him**.

NEVER punish your dog by putting him in the crate. 

NEVER get mad at your dog or puppy or you will only take steps backwards with your training.

If you feel you are getting frustrated, take a break.

*The idea is that the dog is quiet when you are away and if you let him out while he is whining he will never let you forget it.

** This indicates to your dog or puppy that you coming home to let him out really is not all that exciting. Plus, when you leave he gets fun things to chew and eat.

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