- Crates have many benefits for both dogs and dog owners.
- All dogs can be crate trained. It doesn’t matter if your dog is a puppy or an older dog. It doesn’t matter if your dog has never been in a crate, or even if your dog has had a bad experience in a crate in the past. It is possible to crate train your dog.
- Dogs are good at reading our emotions. If we love crates, our dogs will love their crate; if we hate crates, our dogs will hate their crate. Acknowledge your own emotion about crate training and make sure you have a positive mindset about crates and crate training.
- Crates mimic dens that dogs seek out naturally. So, when you are crate training, be very clear with your dog that the crate is a part of a normal daily routine. Don’t manipulate, coerce, or lie to your dog about the crate and crate training. Be clear that the crate is your dog’s space, and that is a good thing!
- If you follow the Dog Training 360 crate training steps consistently, your dog should be crate trained within 2 weeks.
WHAT IS CRATE TRAINING?
Crate training is a popular method of dog training that helps both dogs and their owners. Crate training teaches your dog to relax safely and happily in an enclosed space that simulates a den.
If you’d rather to listen to us talk about crate training, listen to our podcast here: Crate Training Podcast
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CRATE TRAINING?
Dogs are den animals by nature. In natural settings, dogs retreat to small, enclosed areas to sleep safely and relax. Crates mimic these dens, so dogs who are crate trained have a cozy, safe space to retreat to when they need to chill out.
Crate training can also help with house training. Dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area, so if your dog is crate trained, they will learn to hold their bladder and bowels until they are taken outside. This can make housebreaking much easier and quicker. Easier and quicker housebreaking means less stress for both you and your furry friend.
Another benefit of crate training is that it can help prevent destructive behavior. Dogs who are left unsupervised in the house may chew on furniture, shoes, or other household items. On the other hand, dogs who are left in a crate will not have the opportunity to be destructive in the house. Therefore, crate trained dogs can be left safely when you are not home.
In addition to these benefits, crate training can also make traveling with your dog much easier. If your dog is already accustomed to spending time in a crate, they will be comfortable during long car rides or flights. This can help reduce their stress levels and make the journey more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Finally, if your dog is ever hospitalized or kept overnight at a veterinary facility, they will be placed in a kennel or crate for treatment. If your dog is crate trained, this already-stressful veterinary experience will be less stressful because your dog will be relaxed in a crate.
CAN MY DOG REALLY BE CRATE TRAINED?
My Dog is…”A PUPPY” or “A RESCUE” or “AN ADULT DOG”…
YES! All dogs can be crate trained. The Dog Training 360 crate training method applies to all dogs, regardless of age or background. Here is more information on crate training dogs in different situations:
Crate training is perfect for puppies because:
- Crate training helps with housebreaking.
- Crate training teaches your puppy to settle.
- Crate training helps your puppy get enough sleep.
- Crate training keeps your puppy safe in the house and does not allow your puppy to develop bad habits or behaviors that need to be fixed later on.
- Crate training gives you a safe and secure place to put your puppy when you need to do something other than supervise.
Crate training puppies fits nicely into puppy training in general. Puppies who are crate trained establish routines quickly and are more successful with obedience training and house manners because they get enough sleep in their crates.
Many people worry that rescue dogs have negative associations with crates. The truth is that even if a rescue dog did have a negative experience with a crate in their past life, you are creating something new with your new dog. Unless your rescue dog was abused while actually inside their crate, or neglected for hours in a crate, your new rescue dog will do just fine being crate trained in their new home with you. Your new rescue dog will build new associations to their crate in their new life with you.
For all the same reasons crates are great for puppies, crates are great for your new rescue dog:
- Crate training helps with housebreaking, in case your new rescue is not perfectly housebroken, even if they are an adult.
- Crate training is a great way to establish routines with your new dog. Routines help rescue dogs settle into their new life.
- Crate training helps your new rescue dog learn to settle in their new home and get enough sleep while transitioning to their new life.
- Crate training keeps your new dog safe in the house and does not allow your dog to develop bad habits or behaviors that need to be fixed later on.
- Crate training gives you a safe and secure place to put your new dog when you are not able to supervise.
Even well-trained, well-adjusted rescue dogs need routines and structure to adapt to their new home. Crate training is a great way to establish solid routines that your new dog can trust and rely on to help them through the transition into your home.
No dog is too old to be crate trained. If you have an adult dog who has been living with you for a while and you’ve never used a crate before, it is ok! Your adult dog can go through the steps of crate training, just like a puppy can.
There are a bunch of reasons to decide to crate train an adult dog. Here are a few:
- Your daily routine has changed and you are no longer home with your dog all the time.
- Your dog has either long-standing or new behaviors that are destructive to your home (chewing furniture or walls or soiling inside the house).
- Your family structure has changed (perhaps you have a new baby, or a grandparent newly living with you). Changes in your family structure might mean that you can no longer supervise your dog (and keep them out of trouble) the way you used to.
- Your dog has separation anxiety; or, anxiety of any kind.
Whatever your reason for wanting to crate train your adult dog — rest assured, it’s never too late to teach an old dog to love their crate!
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO CRATE TRAIN MY DOG?
If you follow the Dog Training 360 crate training method, your dog should be crate trained within 2 weeks.
SHOULD I PUT A BED IN MY DOG’S CRATE?
Putting a bed in your dog’s crate is a personal choice. Here are some things to think about before you decide:
- Does your dog chew up beds or bedding?
- Might your dog have a potty accident in their crate? If your dog is a young puppy, or an older dog who is not house trained, it is possible they will have an accident in their crate. This does not mean that you should not put a bed in their crate with them — it just means that you need to be prepared to wash and clean the bedding, if your dog has an accident.
- How do you feel about bedding in your dog’s crate? Do you believe your dog will be happier or more comfortable in their crate with a bed?
Some people and dogs love beds in crates; other people and dogs don’t care one way or the other. A towel or an old blanket is a good middle-ground because it is easy to clean if it gets dirty or if your dog has an accident, but it provides a bit of padding and warmth for your dog.
When deciding what to put in your dog’s crate for padding, remember that you will be feeding your dog meals in their crate. So, whatever you decide, make sure that your dog can eat meals in their crate, even with the bedding you choose.
WHAT ABOUT TOYS AND CHEWS — SHOULD I GIVE MY DOG SOMETHING TO DO IN THEIR CRATE?
Do not give your dog toys in their crate because they may chew on the toy while unsupervised. Toys that are chewed up and destroyed can be choking hazards for dogs.
On most days, we do not recommend giving your dog any edible chews in their crate. Dogs who are given chews in their crates often have more difficulty settling if there is not “something to do.” You want to teach your dog that crate time is a time to relax and settle. If you give your dog a chew during crate time, you teach your dog to be busy during crate time.
THE FIRST STEP OF CRATE TRAINING: CHOOSING A CRATE
There are several different crate varieties : what is the best one to buy?
Canvas crates with zippers are light and portable, but we do not recommend them for general crate use because they can’t reliably keep dogs secure — even the smallest and most timid dog can find its way out of a canvas, zipper crate.
There are two primary types of sturdy, permanent crates :
- Wire crates that have metal bars and are often collapsable; and,
- Plastic crates that typically have a fully enclosed bottom half, wire doors, and air holes in the top half. We recommend plastic crates because they are easier to clean than wire crates. Also, they appear more cozy and den-like than the open wire crates.
Your dog should be able to stand up completely in their crate and should be able to circle and change positions. Measure your dog from the floor to the top of their head (including ears) for height and measure your dog from their nose to their tail. Add 1-2 inches onto each of these measurements for appropriate crate sizing.
WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY DOG’S CRATE?
Put your dog’s crate wherever it works best for you and your family. The crate should certainly be in a weather-protected, temperature-controlled setting, but other than that, put your dog’s crate where it works best in your house and for you and your family.
HOW DO I START CRATE TRAINING?
At Dog Training 360, we start crate training puppies, adult dogs, and rescue dogs all the same way. It is really good to create a positive association for your dog with their crate. So, we recommend feeding your dog all meals in their crate for at least two weeks. We also recommend playing crate training games using treats to give your dog a happy, positive vibe in and around their crate.
When playing games with treats, it is really important not bribe your dog, or trick them, into getting into their crate. So, we definitely do NOT use food as a lure or something to chase after into the crate. Instead, we use food as a reward for the behavior we want (getting into the crate). The following video is a good demonstration of how this works in real life.
As you work on this training, think of this aspect of crate training as a game! “The crate is a game of going in and going out.” There is nothing weird or sad or confining about it. Help your dog understand that the crate is a safe space where good things happen!
WHAT DO I DO IF I NEED TO LEAVE AND MY DOG WON’T GO INTO THEIR CRATE?
Life is not only games all the time right? You can play tons of crate training games, but there will be times when you just need to leave the house. Dogs are all different and some will run into their crate if they’ve been fed meals in their crate and played games in their crate. However, other dogs will show reluctance to going into their crate. Make sure that you do not interpret their reluctance as a sad or mad or scared emotion. Remember: crates are like natural dog dens. Crates are good, safe spaces for dogs. If your dog expresses reluctance to going into their crate, ignore this behavior and help them by making crate time a part of their daily routine.
But, what do I do if my dog physically resists going into their crate?
Dogs who physically resist going into crates brace on the ground with their back end. Therefore, we recommend you take the back end out of the equation by lifting your dog’s hind end off the ground and guiding them into the crate with their collar. The following video shows how this method works well, even when dogs try to resist.
HOW DO I MAKE CRATE TIME A ROUTINE FOR MY DOG?
Here is how to help your dog make crate time a routine and expected part of their day. We recommend that all crate training dogs, regardless of age:
- Eat all meals in their crate for at least 2-4 weeks. (Some dogs we know eat all meals in their crates for life, and this is ok!)
- Sleep overnight in their crate for at least 6 months.
- Take at least one 4-hour (uninterrupted) nap in their crate every single day. Yes, even weekends when the whole family is home.
If you follow this schedule, your dog will learn that crate time is routine. This crate schedule will help your dog learn to settle and not be busy during the day. It will also help your dog with potty training and will teach your dog to stay relaxed while you are not with them. Crate training and crate routines also really help dogs that have anxiety, particularly separation anxiety. Want to learn more about separation anxiety? Check out these three resources:
In summary, crate training is a valuable tool for dog owners. It can help with housebreaking, prevent destructive behavior, provide comfort and security, and make traveling with your dog easier. If you’re considering crate training your dog, be sure to do your research and consult with a professional trainer to ensure that you are training in a safe and effective way.
Do you want to learn more? We have an in-depth Crate Training Course to help you! If you take our course, you’ll get even more detailed instructions for crate training your dog successfully! Check it out here: Crate Training Course
Want to hear more information first? Listen to our podcast on crate training here: Crate Training Podcast
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