Crate training is the first necessary step you should take after bringing home a dog or pup. The crate has to be portrayed as a home to the pet. To achieve this end, you have to create positive associations in the pup’s mind about the crate.
To successfully “crate-train” your pooch, you should follow these do’s and don’ts to masterfully hack the dog’s mind and create good memories.
The Do’s of Crate Training
Patience and Praise
To create positive experiences of the pooch in relevance to the crate, use positive reinforcement every time he obeys you. Give him treats in the beginning to walk inside the crate and continue to praise him whenever he walks inside the crate on his own. Even if it has become a routine, continue to appreciate the behavior. Some dog breeds take more time than others, but patience is the key here.
Dogs usually feel anxious in unfamiliar surroundings. Place the crate in a comfortable place with the chew toys and treats in it. Try treat-dispensing toys or puzzles that can engage the pooch in your absence so that he may not feel aloof or cut off from the family when you are not home.
Plenty of Exercise
Exercise is a must to tone down the anxiety of pooch, so take him for walks or playtime before you put him to crate. Let the pooch exhaust his energies exploring the surroundings. Once he is tired and all drained, you may put him in the crate to relax and rest.
Gradually Increase Crate Time
Introduce your puppy to the crate at an early age, well before he turns one. Leave him in the crate for 20 minutes at first. Once the dog feels comfortable for that time period, then you can extend the time to 30 minutes. A gradual increase in time will keep you aware of their comfort. It will prevent him from developing separation anxiety.
Such slow crate training in your presence will create a trust in dogs that they will be let out. However, long hours of crating will increase their anxiety and fright due to change.
Time for Eliminating Before Crating Dog
Give the pooch proper time to eliminate before locking him up in the crate. If the pooch has eliminated in the prohibited area of the crate, then your housebreaking efforts have failed entirely. You will have to start all over again.
The Don’ts of Crate Training
Substitute for Supervision
Crates should never be used as substitutes for supervision. In other words, don’t consider crating the dog as a substitute for your lack of time for the pooch. If you have a busy lifestyle, it’s better to not consider bringing home a pet.
When you are home, spend time with the pooch to develop a close bonding and understand the needs and routine of your dog. Allow him to freely move around in your presence.
Crate Train for Punishment or Time Out
Using the crate as a punishment or timeout will create negative associations in the dog’s mind. The more you will push him inside, he will resist you. It may create a loophole in the relation of dog and the owner.
Let the dog freely explore the crate when it’s door is open. Let him enter it on his own accord.
Crate Space as Too Big or Too Small
Don’t use a crate that’s too big or small in size. A big crate will let your dog compartmentalize it into a bathroom as one end and retreat on the other end. On the other hand, a small crate may not allow the pooch to stretch or even stand up, which can be congested and uncomfortable for the dog.
The crate should be of a balanced size to allow some space for the dog to move around and play with the chew toys. Here are some of the creative dog pen ideas for dogs.
Force or Push the Dog Inside
Pushing or shoving the dog inside the crate before leaving home will create negative associations in the dog’s mind. He will consider it a punishment and will try to hide as soon as you reach for the car keys before leaving. It will create fears and anxiety in your dog, which are root causes of other behavioral issues.
Leave Bones with Chew Toys
Dogs can be given chew toys to nibble on during your absence, but bones should never be given for long time periods and without your supervision. If the bone is cooked, it is brittle enough to crack in the mouth and cause seizures. The chewing time of bone should be fixed and monitored to avoid your Fido choking on the bone after engulfing large pieces of it.
About the Contributor
James is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant with years of experience in dog training and the man behind LabradorTrainingHQ.com. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times.