Crate Training 101
Dog owners like being able to leave the house and not worry about their dog at all. Some dogs don’t need anything more than a toy and a blanket to lay on. Other dogs can get a little stir crazy when left by themselves.
Therefore, so many dog owners choose to crate train. Crate training is a very humane way to prevent your dog from getting into trouble when you’re not at home. In fact, many dogs choose to relax in their crate even when people are home.
If you’re looking to learn more about crate training, you’ve come to the right place. Today we will explore why and how people crate train their dogs.
What is Crate Training?
Crate training is a rather common process of teaching your pet to see a crate or cage as a safe space. This is done by exposing the dog to the crate for short periods of time and rewarding them.
While not every dog will enjoy being in a crate, almost any dog can learn to tolerate being in a crate when necessary.
Why People Crate Train Their Dogs
There are many reasons why a person might consider crate training their dog:
- Crate training protects your home from a bored and destructive dog
- Crate training provides a sense of security for your dog
- Crate training helps you transport your dog easier
- Crate training expedites house training
Many people choose to crate train because it often helps your dog become housebroken faster. Because your dog will spend time sleeping in their crate, they will not want to soil it. When you take your dog out of their crate, and if they have the urge to potty, taking them outside immediately will help teach them that they are expected to do their business outside.
Crate training is also a great idea if you are planning to take your pup on the road with you. If you travel a lot and want to take your dog with you, a crate is the safest place for them to be. This keeps them out of your way while driving and keeps them safe from hurting themselves.
How to Start Crate Training
If you’ve decided that you want to start crate training, where do you begin? It’s important to note that most veterinarians recommend you start crate training as early as possible. It is a good idea for you to get a crate for your dog when you get the dog. That said, it’s never too late to start training.
It is crucial that you get a crate that is the right size for your dog. A crate that is too small for your dog will cause them discomfort. Likewise, if you go too big, your dog may find enough space to go potty without messing up their bedding. This will slow down the house-training effect that crate training has.
Most experts recommend getting a crate that is large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down in. this means that if you have a puppy, you’ll want to get a crate that will fit them into adulthood, and you’ll want to get a divider. The divider will let you shrink the space your puppy has, but once your puppy grows you won’t have to buy a brand-new crate.
First Steps in Crate Training
The most important part of properly crate training is to always have your dog associate the crate with a positive experience. The crate is never a punishment. It’s a safe space for your dog to relax in.
Start by lining your dog’s crate with comfy blankets and a few toys. You can even consider placing a lightweight blanket over the crate but be sure there is still enough ventilation through the crate. You want your pup to feel cozy, not stifled.
When introducing your dog to the crate, only leave them in there for very short increments at first. Start with only five- or ten-minute breaks. When your pup takes a short break in the crate, be sure to give them a treat or distraction toys like a stuffed Kong. Once their break is over, be sure to take them immediately outside.
Taking your dog outside right away will get them used to the idea that they should eliminate outside. You should also praise your dog when they do go potty outside. By positively reinforcing them, you will help them learn your expectations much faster.
Crate Training: Next Steps
Once your pup gets used to the short five- or ten-minute breaks in their crate, you can start increasing that time. Try 30 minutes and see how your dog does. If they are successful, increase the time incrementally. Eventually, you’ll be able to leave them for a longer period.
You’ll also be able to leave the house while your pup is having crate training success. You can try stepping out for a bit, but always remember that once you come home and let them out of the crate, should go outside right away. Remember to always give out positive reinforcement when your dog is successful.
At night, try keeping your puppy in their crate while you sleep. If they are under four months old, you’ll want to get up and let them out to potty, but beyond four months of age most dogs should be able to sleep through the night without accident. Though, it is a good idea to take them out if you think they need to.
You can also consider giving your dog meals in their crate. Place the food near the center of the crate if your dog is a little hesitant eating in there. Once they warm up, you can place the food near the back. Eventually, you’ll be able to close the door while your dog eats but be sure to let them out once they are done.
Final Tips for Crate Training
Remember that you are trying to train your dog to use the crate. You only want to make positive associations with the crate. Don’t bang on it, don’t use it as a punishment, and don’t overuse a crate. Your dog will not want to be left there all day and night, so be sure to only use it when it makes sense.
If you use these tips, you’ll have a crate trained pup in no time.