Crate training? Why? When and How?
Crate training still seems to be a topic that raises discussion, nevertheless, there are more and more people that use it successfully in their everyday life. For me it has always been an enormously helpful tool in training and raising my puppies and dogs. Why? Let me explain everything…
Why and when? Once used properly, a crate will help you to manage your dog when you cannot pay attention to them and additionally it can teach them to relax and calm down at home. This is especially helpful with very young puppies, as they don't know the rules yet, crating is like another pair of hands . Plus, this way the little puppy does not learn bad habits! Teaching a dog to love their crate does not take as much time as you think! You can do it in short sessions when watching TV, reading a book or even cooking! Below are some reasons why a crate is helpful: * If the puppy is in the crate they cannot chew on furniture, cables and shoes –this means you can kill two birds with one stone. The puppy is safe and the house is safe * Still teaching toilet training? When you cannot supervise you pup put them in the crate (adjusting the time to their age of course). Hardly any dog is willing to wee in their sleeping spot. * Teaching the dog to relax. After a walk give your canine something to chew on in the crate, let them to get tired even more, relax and… fall asleep. * Having guests at home that you need to focus on? Put your 4 legged friend in the crate with something interesting to get occupied with and avoid having to take care of both – the guests and the dog. * Travelling? Take a crate with you and your dog is going to have their own spot in a new place. Again – safe dog, safe hotel room wink emoticon How? As I said before, it does not take that much time to train your dog to enjoy their crate. There are some simple steps that you should follow. The same rules apply here as with socialising and dog training in general, you want to make crate training fun and make it a very pleasant experience with frequent rewards! The first thing you should do is set up the crate in a place that is relatively calm and quiet and then make it comfy and cosy by putting some comfy dog bedding in there. The crate is now ready! The last thing you need to do before you can start the training is to prepare lots of small tasty treats and you are now are ready to begin!
Step 1. The first task is to get your dog used to the crate by luring your dog in and out of the crate. This will help them get used to the noises the crate makes and its feel on their paws. You should reward them frequently when they are still in the crate and repeat this a lot! When your dog is happy with walking in and out of the crate you are ready to move on to the next step. Step 2. You should now throw or drop treats into the crate for your dog to go in and get. Make sure you do this many of times and drop/throw the treat into different parts of the crate. The aim is to get your dog used to going into the crate. You might need to lure them back out of the crate after a while as they will start to realise that it is a great place to be. Step 3. After doing many repetitions of Steps 1 and 2, your dog should be pretty happy with the crate. We now want the dog to think a bit about offering to go into the crate without us luring them into it. We will wait for the dog to go into it on their own accord and then you should this mark this behaviour and reward it. . Then you have guessed it…. Repeat a lot of times! Step 4. Now your dog likes to go into the crate is pretty happy about it we want them to get used to the door of the crate being closed. You should wait for your dog to offer going into the crate and then close the door and reward them in the crate when the crate is closed and then open the door again. At the beginning you need to make sure that the door is closed for only a couple of seconds, then this time can be increased. Repeat and reward a lot! It is very helpful to also feed your dog it’s meals in the crate too so even more positive associations are added to the crate. Step 5. Is getting your dog used to being in the crate for short periods of time with the door closed. Whilst they are in the crate you can reward them occasionally by dropping treats into the crate when you are walking past. You can set this up whilst you watch some TV, doing some house chores or reading a book. It is helpful to ensure you only reward them and letting them out the crate when they are nice and calm and relaxed. Again, you need to increase the time spent in the crate gradually. To help them be occupied and relaxed in the crate for longer periods of time you give them something tasty and fun to keep them occupied such as a Kong filled with tasty food, a bone or chew toys! Some dogs feel even more comfortable if the crate is covered with a blanket too, so feel free to add a blanket over the top of the crate to make it even more cosy and like a little den!
After these 5 simple steps your dog or puppy is crate trained! You will find that your dog will want to go in their crate when they feel like relaxing and having time to themselves, which is great thing!