A dog crate can become a place of comfort and security for your dog or puppy. This will come in handy when traveling in a car, staying in a pet-friendly hotel, during large family gatherings or parties in your home, or when delivery or repair people come into your home. A crate or other confinement can also help with potty training.
What You’ll Need:
- An appropriately sized dog crate or small gated area
- An old T-shirt or towel that smells like you inside their space
- A rubber dog toy (i.e. Kong) that you can fill with peanut butter or a crunchy dog biscuit
- Treats: kibble, biscuits, small pieces of boiled chicken, carrots, apple, etc.
Step 1: Before you start, close the crate door. Guide your dog into the room. If they move towards the crate, use a marker word like “Yes!” and offer them a treat. As they get closer to the dog crate or sniff the crate, offer them two treats. Over time, the dog will make a positive connection between the reward and the crate, and this will be an integral part of the dog crate training process.
Step 2: Once your dog is comfortable around the crate, open the crate door. If they sniff inside the crate, reward them with your maker word and drop a treat in their crate. As they sniff around, mark each of their efforts with your marker word and drop a treat into their crate. The more often your dog enters the crate, increase the number of treats you offer them. You want to create a positive association with their crate.
Step 3: When your dog is fully inside the crate offer them lots of praise – “Good boy!” If they stay inside the crate or enter it again, offer another treat and praise. If your dog seems nervous in the crate, don’t force them to stay inside. Give them some space and try again later.
Step 4: As soon as your dog is comfortable being inside of the crate, place their rubbery toy inside with them. Calmly close the crate door. You want to make the crate a calm place where they want to be.
Step 5: After a minute or two, open the crate door and calmly walk away. Until your dog learns the “stay” command, let them leave the crate whenever they’re ready. Give your dog lots of affection and kibble or other treats for a job well done! The next time you practice this skill with your dog, you can increase the amount of time they spend in the cage.
- Your dog or puppy may whine or bark once the crate door is closed and they’re finished with their special treat. Let them calm themselves by offering a positive marker word like “Good” or “Yes”. From the moment they are quiet, wait 30 seconds. If they can stay quiet for that time, drop another treat into their crate. If your dog or puppy continues to whine, you can open the crate. If they stay calm and quiet, repeat the 30-second count and treat. Do this three times. After this, you can increase the time. At any time, if your dog continues to whine, let them out of the crate with reassurance such as “It’s okay,” but offer no treat.
- Another way to help your dog adjust to the crate is by feeding meals inside of it. As soon as they finish eating, remove the dish, offer them a treat or toy to entertain them until it’s time to go potty.
- Your dog or puppy may need to be convinced to enter the crate. Place their extra special toy into the crate to lure them inside. Once they’re inside, offer them encouragement and praise.
- If your dog or puppy is having difficulty being quiet while in their crate, work with whatever their longest amount of time is – even if it’s only 30 seconds – and try that for up to 10 repetitions. End training for the day and try the next day. The next day, time your dog starting with the longest amount of quiet time they did the day before and increase from there.
- Don’t force a dog into a crate or use a crate as punishment. The crate should be a training space and a happy place.
- Dogs that bite, scratch, or pull at the crate bars, or show anxious body language (i.e. shaking, panting, drooling, intense barking) for longer than 10 minutes can hurt themselves. If your dog or puppy does any of these things, end the exercise patiently and start over the next day. If you don’t see much improvement over the following week, our Bark Avenue Training department can help!
Bark Avenue Daycamp in Bartlett provides dog training in Bartlett and in the surrounding Chicago suburbs including Carol Stream, Elgin, Hanover Park, South Elgin, St. Charles, Wayne, Schaumberg, and Streamwood. Our dog trainers are available to make your dog training appointment or answer any questions. Call us today (630) 289-8470