Patience, kindness and persistence go a long way when teaching any new skill in life. This is of course also true when it comes to introducing a crate to your favourite four-legged friend. When done correctly, this experience is rewarding and positive for you and your dog. Simply throwing a treat into the “cage” and locking the door behind is not what we are talking about here. A happily crate trained dog will enter their crate voluntarily and enjoy the rest and relaxation this safe haven provides. Even though some dogs take naturally to the crate don’t expect your dog or puppy to automatically like being in there. DogRelations NYC offers the following tips to help you think about this as a process to make both you and the dog happy and successful. Alternatively, we offer private crate-training sessions if you need a little support or inspiration. Susan Garret has her “Crate Games” on YouTube that are excellent to check out as well.
But… It Looks Like a Prison!
Sometimes looking at a crate and thinking of locking a dog or puppy in can cause some to react negatively to crate training. Yes, crates look like prisons; however, they offer safety and security. Realize that a crate is just a temporary means or safe containment that allows puppies and dogs to feel they are an integral part of the family even during bedtime and nap time etc.
Starting As a Puppy Is Ideal
Incorporating new habits while young is the perfect scenario. Building lasting, lifelong, healthy habits is always a positive thing. However, it IS possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Many loving homes adopt elderly dogs or adult rescue dogs and are able to teach them to love their crate later in life. The idea is to convey to the dog that this is going to be a wonderful new game that will make the experience fun and rewarding. By all means never rush your dog into a crate and leave the house. Just as you give them plenty of time to teach them a new behavior be sure you are allowing adequate time for them to get comfortable being in the new crate.
Desensitizing the Crate
Whenever you are teaching your dog something new and possibly scary make “training time = game time = mealtime”. Toss treats or bits of food into the crate and see if your dog enters to follow the treat. While you are luring the dog into the crate always move the crate door at the same time and reward the dog at the back of the crate. Open the door, and deliver a treat at the back of the crate to make the back area of the crate “hot” and appealing and associate the door opening with a treat appearing at the back of the crate. Once the dog learns that they will not care about the door closing. Remember that one hugely important role of crate training is helping with house training. Dogs do not pee or poop where they eat and sleep.
When you are not crate “training” leave the door open and leave super high value presents/treats inside the crate for your dog to find as pleasant surprises. Put something familiar such as their dog bed or one of your worn T-shirts inside the crate before inviting them in.
This brings me to the point of the size of the crate. Make sure the crate is small enough that the dog can lie down, turn around and stand up but no larger than that. Otherwise your learner might be tempted to sleep on one side and pee/poop on the other. The crate is not a crate unless the door is closed. It basically turns into a bed. It will not contain the dog which means that the dog can pee on the rug and chew your furniture.
Benefits of Crate Training
How great will it be to know your dog can easily and safely travel in your vehicle or in an airplane? Or that they are not getting into anything while you are out of the house? No more worrying that you will find your favorite pair of shoes eaten or your couch cushions torn apart or your computer cords chewed. Protect your belongings and your home while establishing a healthy sleep/travel/safety routine at the same time. A truly crate trained dog will experience crate time as a reward and look forward to relaxing and munching on favorite treats in there. If DogRelations NYC can help you in your crate training endeavors, please don’t hesitate to call! (917) 783-1473