Crate Training – Part 1
This year is the 10th anniversary for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers’ “National Train Your Dog Month”. What a great way to start the new year – focusing on the benefits of training your canine companion.
While we’re sharing some of the ADPT’s free training videos on our Facebook page (please do head over there if you want to check them out) we wanted to spend some time talking about crate training.
Without doubt one of the things that can drive a trainer crazy is hearing that “We decided not to use the crate when we brought Tucket home, he just looked so sad in it.” The crate is an invaluable training tool. House training, jumping on guests, and destructive chewing are all so much easier to address if you just embrace that crate. Read on for part 1 of our detailed crate training tips.
Make the crate a really comfortable place for pup
The size of the crate should be big enough for pup to stand up in and turn around. You don’t want it so big that pup can create separate sleeping and bathroom areas. Some wire crates come with an adjustable divider that can be moved to provide pup with the appropriate space. Otherwise you might be able to reduce the excess space with the help of a cardboard box.
- Provide comfy bedding which can be easily washed.
- Have a variety of puppy safe toys in the crate – different sizes, shapes, textures. (The Kong Wubba (paid link) is just one of the toys we love.) Don’t leave all of pup’s toys out/in the crate – rotate them every few days.
Make the crate the place where meals are served and the best treats enjoyed. You want your pup to think of the crate like its Disneyworld!
Think about the location of the crate.
- The crate should be somewhere pup enjoys spending time – away from very busy areas of the house but close to an outside exit for easy toileting trips. A part of the house that isn’t too hot or too cold, too dark or too light. Pup is going to need quiet times so somewhere he can be undisturbed is a great choice. As much as we may want to keep our beautiful new addition at our side 24 hours a day, please keep in mind that it is important for pup to get used to spending sometime by him/herself. You may find it helpful to have more than one crate (maybe one upstairs, and one downstairs).
- Don’t just force puppy into the crate and shut the door. To begin with you’re going to make a game of going into the crate and getting puppy used to entering the crate on his own. Toss some of pup’s kibble or other tasty treat into the crate and let puppy go in, find it and then come back out if he wishes. Repeat but if pup is readily entering the crate then try tossing the treats slightly further towards the back. After 5 minutes of the game go and do something else – maybe a play in the yard.
- Within an hour go back to the game and try adding a few more pieces of the kibble allowing you enough time to close the door briefly. Open it when pup finishes all of the kibble and before he starts fussing about being behind a closed door. Repeat. After 5 minutes go and do something else.
- Your next crate session could be a meal time – leave puppy with the bowl (or better yet a food toy) in the crate and close the door. Stay nearby and be ready to open the door when puppy finishes his meal.
- Between training sessions sprinkle treats in the crate so pup is randomly rewarded with these surprises if he/she returns in at other times.
- You can gradually increase the amount of time puppy is in the crate by waiting just a little longer each time before you open the crate door. Using the longer times provided by meals you can also start to move away from the crate so pup gets used to being in there on his own. Don’t go too far as you want to ensure pup never has reason to start getting worried about being alone.
Within the course of just a few hours you can build duration in the crate from minimal interaction with the crate to 20 minutes or so.
To be continued. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming next week.
This post was written by Als