Teaching your Dog to Love their Crate.
Over the last 20 years the use of crates has grown in popularity and most peoples perception has changed from viewing them as a bad thing, a cage, to realising they can be a really helpful aid in training if used correctly. In fact, when you research getting a pup one of the recommended essential pieces of equipment is a crate or puppy pen.
In my experience having worked full time as a dog training and behaviour professional for over 20 years and helping literally thousands of dogs and their owners, there is absolutely no doubt that a crate can be really beneficial.
- An excellent way of keeping your pup safe when unsupervised.
- Helps teach desired behaviour such as toilet training.
- Prevents behavioural problems such as chewing.
- Are an ideal way to ensure your pup is safe when travelling in a vehicle and in addition really helps them settle.
- They can also help in overcoming travel sickness.
- An excellent way to restrict a dogs movement, so are perfect to use if your dog ever needs to be rested due to injury or an operation.
- A familiar safe haven for your dog whilst away from home with the additional benefit of preventing your dog causing any damage.
Before you use the crate to contain your dog.
Now you know how useful crates can be, it is also essential you understand that no dog is born naturally liking being shut in a crate. It is crucial that your dog is introduced to the crate in the correct way so that she views it as her den, a place she feels safe, can relax, chill out and enjoys being in.
It is vital that before you expect to contain your dog in the crate that you teach her to:
- go in the crate happily
- get used to staying in the crate for a short time with the door open
- get used to staying in the crate with the door shut initially for short periods
- get used to being happy and relaxed in the closed crate for longer periods (up to 3 hours max.)
It is important to ensure the crate you have is the correct size for your dog. It needs to be large enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, sit and stretch out when lying down. If you are using it for toilet training make sure it isn’t too big as this could mean that your pup fouls one area and still keeps his bed area clean.
Make it snug and comfortable by using soft bedding so it becomes a place your dog is likely to want to chill out in.
Make sure you provide water, I like to use the water bowls which clip to the side of he crate this way its unlikely that the dog will spill it and cause all her bedding to become wet.
Have a variety of safe toys which your dog can amuse herself with. Chew toys and toys which you can fill with treats and food are ideal. I recommend providing enrichment using natural products such as those supplied by Natural Instinct which include bones and my personal favourite ‘Goodie Tubes’
Crate dos and don’ts
- make the crate a cosy and pleasant place to be
- always ensure everything associated with the crate and being in it is positive for your dog.
- take time to teach your dog to love their crate
- be patient if your dog is even slightly anxious go back a few steps in your training
- provide things your dog really likes to occupy her whilst in the crate
- only leave your dog for short periods initially
- once your dog is crate trained never leave her for over 3 hours in the crate
- make sure clean fresh water is available
- whilst your dog is in the crate make sure there are no excitable distractions happening causing your dog to want to get out to join in.
- never put your dog in the crate as a punishment or time out
- teach your dog to wait calmly to be let out of the crate
Here is a film showing you how to introduce your dog to a crate successfully