Why is it important to Crate Train my dog?
When trained properly, Crate Training simplifies house training and prevents damage to furniture, floors and other personal goods by giving him a place to retire at the end of the night. It can also be used as a positive tool for time-out while visitors are present or during family dining.
Is it cruel to leave my dog in a Crate?
Since canines are den animals, the Crate actually resembles a sanctuary where they can relax and have a place that he or she can call their own. Therefore it is important to make the Crate a very positive place for Fido where he can feel safe and secure. The misuse of a Crate involve, leaving dogs in for long periods of time, and using it as a form of punishment if a bad deed was done. Leaving a dog in a Crate for more than a few hours unattended gives a greater risk of forcing your dog to eliminate in his Crate, which is very bad considering that it breaks down his instinctive inhibitions against soiling his den.
How to Crate train
Before you start to Crate Train, cover the floor of the Crate with a rug or soft pad to make it comfortable and inviting for Poochie.
- Start with the Crate door open, and toss treats that she prefers near the Crate.
- Gradually toss the treats farther and farther into the Crate until she ventures inside to eat them. Remember to verbally praise your dog during the entire process.
- When she enters the Crate easily give praise and reinforce her with more treats while she is inside.
- If she comes out of the Crate, it’s OK. Continue to toss treats inside and reinforce her when she re-enters. Also remember not to force her in the Crate if she doesn’t want to go. Go back several steps or cease training if she is resistant.
- When she enters the Crate to get the treat without hesitation, you can begin using the verbal cue “go to bed” as she goes in, so that you will eventually be able to send her into the Crate on a verbal cue.
- When she stays in the Crate in anticipation of a verbal and food reward, gently swing the door closed without latching it. Open the door after a brief moment and continue to use both food and verbal rewards while the door is shut. Repeat the process several times.
- When your dog is able to stay in her Crate with the door closed for ten or more seconds, continue with the praise and take a few steps away. Go back to the Crate and reinforce her. Repeat the steps varying the time and distance you leave the Crate to keep her guessing to when you will be back. Reinforce every return to the Crate.
- Use other forms of food reinforcement for longer durations in the Crate. A Kong filled with kibble serves as an excellent choice for reinforcement while she is inside for longer periods of time.
A few pointers…
- If at any time during the training program your dog whines about being in the Crate, do not let her out until she stops crying. It will teach her that whining will set her free. Instead, wait for a few seconds of quiet, then give her a verbal and food reward. Go back a step or two in the training program until she is successful at the task you’ve set out for her.
- Be sure to also leave a few toys that she likes in the Crate.
- Continue with verbal and sporadic food reinforcement to encourage her for a job well done.
- Do not let anyone tease or punish her in the Crate.