Crate Training A Dog

Crate training a dog, while perhaps a little more difficult than training a puppy, is not as tricky as some might think.  Done properly, crate training can help your dog feel more secure and will help to keep him from getting in trouble while his humans are away. 

Here are steps and tips that will help you to properly crate train your adult dog.

Purchase Proper Sized Crate

Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around in his crate.  If he cannot comfortably do those things, the crate is too small. 

Proper Bedding

You can purchase a pad specially made to fit in your crate, or you can put his favorite bed in there.   As long as there is comfortable bedding, it doesn’t matter if it was specially made for the crate or not.  Also, it’s a good idea to choose bedding that is easily washable.

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Consider His Past

If your dog acts terrified of the crate, and you don’t know his past history, it could be that he was punished using a crate or left in a crate for an extended period of time.  While such factors do not make it impossible to properly crate train your dog, it is likely that you will need more patience with your pet. 

Introduce Slowly

Start by placing the crate in a room where the dog enjoys spending time.  Just leave the crate there with the door opened. Don’t force your dog to go inside, just let him explore at his own pace. 

You can try placing treats or special toys near the door of the crate in order to increase his interest. Over time, you can move the treats from the door to inside the crate.

When he goes inside on his own, try closing the door, but don’t leave the room.  At first, just leave it closed for a few minutes. 

Gradually Increase Usage

Eventually, you can start leaving the door closed for longer time periods.  Next, leave the room for a few minutes, and then gradually increase the time that you are away.

Don’t go to the next step until your dog seems comfortable with the current step.

Never Use for Punishment

A huge mistake that many people make when crate training a dog is to use the crate as a form of punishment.   Doing this causes your dog to associate negative feelings with the crate. Rather than viewing is a place of comfort, he will view it with fear.

When to Crate

Once you have successfully crate trained your dog, you will be able to leave him in the crate for hours at a time.  Some choose to crate their dog while they are at work.  Others crate them overnight.  You should not, however, do both.  Crating your dog for 8 hours a day while you’re at work and then another 8 hours while you’re sleeping means that your pet will be in the crate more than out.  That is not ok.

Crate training a dog properly is not a quick process.  It can take several weeks, or even longer, but the payoff will be worth it.  One of the keys to proper crate training is to teach your dog to associate positive things with being in the crate.  Help him learn to view it as a place to feel safe while you are away. 

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