Crate training might seem cruel but used correctly, it can be an extremely useful training tool. In fact, crates can provide a safe space for dogs that need a little downtime. It’s also great for house training and allows you to more easily bring your pet out for vet visits or travels!
That said, crate training is not a miracle cure-all for behavioural problems!
Crate training, if done poorly, can actually cause your dog to experience unnecessary stress and anxiety. Make sure to do plenty of research when crate training your dog. Most importantly, take things nice and slow! Never push your dog too far out of their comfort zone.
Thankfully, crate training can be a piece of cake if you take the right steps and measures. So let’s take a look at how you can crate train your dog!
Step 1: Pick the Right Crate
A comfortable, flexible and sufficiently large crate will help make crate training a little easier. Before purchasing a crate, measure your dog from the top of their head to the floor, then from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail.
Make sure the crate you purchase is at least 7-10 cm taller and longer than your pup. A large dog crate gives them plenty of space to fully stand up, turn around and lie down. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better either, as a kennel that’s too large may not be effective!
Aside from size, it’s also important to consider the different types of crates - whether it’s wire crates or plastic kennels.
Wire dog cages are great for bringing home a new pup as it provides great visibility of the pet and better ventilation. It’s also a great indoor den for your pup to rest in Dr. Cage’s Foldable 3ft Dog Cage is great as it’s easy to disassemble, clean and put away.
However, plastic kennels like Stefanplast’s Dog Carriers are more suited for travelling in. Plus, these plastic kennels are naturally dark, providing your pup a safe and private area.
Pick a crate that fits your pup’s needs, as well as matching your crate training goals!
Step 2: Introduce Your Dog to the Crate
This step is crucial to the process. Avoid rushing this process as you want to ensure your dog feels safe and comfortable around their dog crate.
Place the crate in a part of the house where your family spends the most time. You can also make the crate more comfortable by laying a soft blanket or bed inside. Insect Shield’s Flea & Tick Protection Blanket is a great choice for this as it’s extra comfortable, while providing convenient insect protection. Keep the door of the crate open and let your dog explore it at leisure. Some pups will take to their crate right away.
However, if your dog doesn’t seem interested in the crate, you can:
- Bring your dog over to the dog crate and talk to them in a happy and excited tone of voice. Do not try to force your dog into the crate!
Use treats or toys like KONG’s Wobbler Interactive Dog Toy to encourage them to explore inside the crate. This may take a bit of time and trial and error.
Only move on to the next step when you’re sure your pup is comfortable in their crate.
Step 3: Feed Your Dog in the Crate
Once your dog is feeling comfortable in their new crate, you can start feeding them regular meals inside their crate.
Depending on your pup’s personality, they may take a bit of coaxing to stay in the crate for long periods of time. Over time, place the food dish further and further into the crate to encourage them to enter it completely.
When your dog is comfortable eating inside the dog crate, you can try to gently close the door of the crate while they’re eating. Then, open the door when they finish their meal. Over time, you can leave the door closed for a few more minutes. Eventually, they should be able to stay in their crate for at least 10 minutes.
If they’re crying or whining to be let out, you might have increased the period of time the door is closed too quickly!
Step 4: Longer Crating Periods
Now that your dog is more or less comfortable with staying in their crate for at least 10 minutes, you can experiment with longer periods of time. At this stage, avoid leaving the house with your pup in the dog crate.
For effective crate training, it’s good to practice a cue and a routine for it. Make sure to also prepare training treats like Stella & Chewy’s Just Jerky Bites.
Some steps you can try include:
- Call them to their crate. When they walk up to their crate, give them a treat.
- Use a voice cue like “crate”, and a hand signal like pointing into the crate to encourage your dog to walk into the crate. If they succeed, praise them and give them another treat, then close the door.
- Sit near the crate for 5-10 minutes then go to another room for 5-10 minutes. Return, sit quietly for a short time and then let them out.
- Repeat this a few times a day, gradually increasing the time when you leave your pup
- Once your dog is able to stay in their crate quietly for at least 30 minutes, you can start leaving your pup in their crate when you’re gone for short periods of time.
Eventually, as your dog gets more comfortable staying in their crate for longer periods of time, you can graduate your pup to larger spaces like your kitchen when you’re away. You can also use Dr. Cage’s Play Pen for Dogs to slowly increase the space that your pup can roam in while you’re away.
If your dog is whining or crying excessively while they’re in the dog crate, try to ignore the whining for at least a few minutes.
If they’re still whining after 5-10 minutes, assess if they require the bathroom. If they don’t, it could indicate that you might have gone too fast with the training. If the problem persists, you might want to restart the crate training process.
As you can see, crate training is a great tool to manage your pup when you’re travelling or out of the house. Of course, it’s also important to remember never to leave your dog in their crate for too long. If you’re crate training a puppy that’s under 6 months old, you should not leave them in their crate for more than 3 hours as they have less control over their bladder.
Never use dog crates as punishment, or to curb separation anxiety. In a negative setting, crates can create a lot of stress and anxiety in dogs. This will make it extra hard to use the crate when you actually need to - like when you’re bringing your pup to a vet.
Whatever it is, crate training is helpful and can be a great way to start your pup on their dog training adventure!
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.