The Do’s & Don’ts of Crate Training
In order to use a crate properly, there are do’s and don’ts, which I have listed below.
• The crate should be a comfortable and safe place. Place a comfortable, machine washable bed inside to male it comfortable for your dog.
• Placing safe toys inside can also make it a more enjoyable place. (Puppies should have a variety of safe toys as they are teething and in the socialization period of their life where learning is essential. A variety of different textured toys is important. To learn more about puppy nipping click here.
• You can leave the door to the crate open while encouraging your dog to go inside and investigate. (Toss some treats inside or even a really good chew like a bully stick or stuffed Kong toy.)
• Feed your dogs meals inside the crate.
• Place the water bowl inside the crate. There is no reason your dog cannot have water while being inside its crate.
• When training your dog to use a crate, make sure to set aside time so that you are not rushing through the process.
• Prior to opening the door, you can teach your dog that the only way the door will open is if he sits calmly and/or makes eye contact with you. (Once your dog starts getting the hang of crate training this is a great impulse control exercise.)
• First and foremost, DO NOT just shove your dog in the crate, lock the door and expect him to be fine or even sleep through the night. If your puppy or dog has not been trained to use a crate, then do not just expect that he will be fine.
• Don’t use the crate as a place of punishment. You really want the crate to be a place of positive associations where your dog is comfortable being confined.
• If your dog whines or barks, do not just open the door to let him out. You do not want to teach your dog that when he barks, you come running over and “shazam!” the door magically opened. Your dog will quickly learn barking opens the door. Unless your dog is having some kind of anxiety, I would only open the crate door when he is calm and quiet.
• Do not have your dog crated for long periods of time. How would you like it if you were locked up all day long? If needed, get a family member or dog walker to help you. You want your dog out of the crate as much as possible while staying occupied and busy so that he doesn’t start becoming destructive and does not start making the house his indoor bathroom.
• A young puppy has a small bladder. This means he can only control himself for a limited amount of time. If he is in his crate for too long he will have no choice but to go to the bathroom in his crate. This will make housetraining so much harder for you and your dog. To learn more on housetraining click here.