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Dog or Puppy Crate Training

 Dog or Puppy Crate Training

Dog Crate Training

Crate-training can be useful at any stage in your dog’s life, but may be easier to start when Pickles is still a puppy.  It can help with potty-training, and may prove a valuable asset to overall dog training.  Also, a happily crated dog is safer when traveling, and more comfortable when confined.

As with every aspect of dog obedience training, this should be a positive experience.  Dogs naturally prefer a cozy den for rest.  Introduced properly, the crate becomes that den, not prison.  One warning: never crate a puppy with separation anxiety.  His natural instincts were probably traumatized out of him, and confinement could make it worse. Our goal is to make his crate learning experience as exciting as possible. 

The crate should allow just enough room for the dog’s frame.  If it’s too big, he may think one end is the toilet—not good!  Dogs instinctively keep their ‘nest’ clean, so a smaller area works to your advantage.  However, don’t rely on this alone; if pup is left too long and cannot contain himself, eliminating in the crate may become an unfortunate habit.

What if your puppy is small now, but will be large when mature?  Block off as much of the crate as necessary, using pillows or a cardboard-box barrier, which you can cut down to size as pup grows.  Some crates include movable dividers for this purpose.

Introduce the crate gradually.  You might start with just the bottom section, perhaps with some padding to lie on.  Entice pup into this ‘nest’ a few times with treats, and praise when he goes in.  Reinforce pup’s positive associations with the crate by petting or playing with him when he’s inside.  Eventually, he may come and go by himself.  Never force him, or he’ll refuse. 

Once he’s entering on his own, add the top, but not the door.  Toss in treats again, to help him adjust to the new structure.  When he’s used to that, add the door, but leave it open.  Start closing the door for a second or two while you’re right there.  As he adjusts, leave it shut longer, then step away briefly.  Continue this way until he’s happy to stay in the crate alone with a bone or toy. 

Crating can be helpful with any dog-training program.  For competitive dog obedience training, dogs may need to be crated during shows or events.  But whether a champion or just a companion, your dog can be comfortable, all by himself, if he’s learned that the crate is his safe, special place.