Perhaps you’ve heard about crate training and wonder if it’s the right approach for your new pup. Most dog experts would offer a resounding “yes!” if you asked them, and then qualify it by saying, “as long as you know what you are doing.” Here are the essential tips you need to know to make crate training a great experience for both you and your canine friend. If you follow them your pup’s crate will help him or her cope with you leaving the house, will reduce destructive behavior and uncontrolled barking and will make housebreaking go much more smoothly – no pun intended!
Do it Right and Your Pup Will Love the Crate
Dogs are untamed critters way back in their gene pool. In centuries of domestication their wild side has not been eradicated. In the wild dogs seek out small holes and dens for important keys to their survival including safety and warmth. A crate very nicely replicates that safe place if the owner knows how to use it. Without such a place a dog will become anxious, not having anywhere to retreat to when they feel threatened.
Basic Steps in Effective Crate Training
The first and most important step is to begin crate training as soon as you bring home your rambunctious puppy. An older dog who has never been crated will find the adjustment tough, but it may still be worth trying if your adult dog is having issues related to anxiety or misbehavior. So start early when possible and your furry friend will quickly adapt.
The second step is to place the crate in a place where people will frequent or congregate. Your puppy is a social creature as you know, and when you or others are around your dog will feel more secure and content. Place them in the crate for short periods of time to start with and go about your business. This will train the dog that the crate is a normal part of its existence.
Next, choose a crate that is large enough for your dog to stand up in and turn around but not much bigger. If your doggie has too much room in the crate accidents tend to become more of an issue because the dog can relieve itself in a corner and still bed down away from the mess. That’s just the way it is and you won’t like it. Keep the crate clean and equipped with water (but not too much) and a chew toy. Make it comfy. Your dog will enjoy having a little space all of his own.
When you place the dog in the crate speak reassuringly and then let her get used to it. She may whine a bit at first but just let her know everything is okay and in short time she’ll relax. If you remove your pooch before she settles down she’ll learn to be whiny to get your attention. That’s not so good. After she’s been in the crate and quiet for 15-30 minutes let her out if she gets restless and give her praise. She’ll understand she did well and that you, the leader of her “pack,” are happy.
Gradually build up the amount of time you leave your dog in the crate. It is very helpful if you or someone else in your family who is committed to the crate training process is at home most of the time in the early going. An hour is a good first goal for your doggy to be crated. Then aim for 2 hours and so on. All night in the crate will signal a good milestone. Then work towards having the dog in the crate for a period of time that matches your work day. In time you won’t have to leave your best friend in the crate all day but until the dog demonstrates a comfort level with being left alone – meaning it won’t scratch the door, chew the furniture, bark for hours, etc., use the crate for everyone’s well-being.
With consistent and patient crate training your dog’s separation anxiety and poor behavior will be greatly reduced and your pooch will come to love their little piece of the world. Their anxious moments will be calmed and they’ll have no reason to act out in destructive ways.