Tips for crate training your canine

Lifestyle
June 9, 2021

Crate training can be difficult and requires a lot of strength and commitment on both the owner's and dog's part. Here are some helpful trips to get you started on crate training your pooch!

So you’ve decided to crate train your canine but you’re unsure of where to start. We’re here to help! Here are some tips to help you get started with crate training.

Why is it good to crate train your dog?

Dog owners crate train their dogs for a variety of reasons. One of the most important is that it’s for your dog’s own comfort. In the beginning, chances are your dog will not like their crate but with repetition and positive reinforcement, it will become their safe space. Like us humans, dogs can get over tired from the socialization and stimulation of their human family. A crate is essentially like your dog having their own room. A place where they can retreat to for some relaxation and destressing.

Crates can also be used to keep your dog safe while you’re away. Some dogs, especially puppies, will try to eat things that aren’t always food. Consuming non-food objects can result in a foreign body which could be very serious and may even require surgery to remove. If dogs are stored in their crate, it reduces the risk of them eating something that might be dangerous for them. Just make sure not to leave them in a crate for long hours.

Another reason to consider crate training is for when they make trips to the vet. At some point in their lifetime, it is likely that your dog will need an overnight vet visit. During overnight or long term vet stays, dogs are kept in a kennel. If dogs are not used to being in a crate or kennel, it can be very stressful for them. Having your dog crate trained will lessen their anxiety during a time where they need to be resting and healing.

Even if you do not plan on using a crate regularly, it is good to at least have your dog accustomed to and comfortable using a crate.

Puppy in a crate Dexter, the 8 week old bichon/shih-tzu puppy hanging out in his crate dog crate stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

What is the best type of crate to use?

There are many different crates on the market. It is important to choose the one that is best for your size/breed of dog. The right crate can vary greatly between dog to dog. 

Start by measuring your dog from their nose to the base of their tail while they are standing. Follow this by also measuring from their feet to the top of their head while they are sitting. It is best to add 2-4 inches to these measurements before choosing the right size crate. Pro tip: it is always better to purchase a crate that is a little bigger than the “ideal size” measurement listed on most kennel packaging. It is also important to consider growing room if you’re buying a crate for a puppy.

Types of crates:

  1. Plastic dog crates
Pug dog in a travel crate a pug puppy leaving his crate dog crate stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Pros: Easy to move/portable, Less visibility (better for shy or stressed dogs), easy to clean

Cons: Low air flow (can cause dogs to overheat if it’s too hot in the room), does not collapse for easy storage, plastic may absorb smells

  1. Metal dog crates
Golden Retriever Playful Golden Retrievers brothers playing with a ball in a crate. dog crate stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Pros: More visibility, more airflow, optional crate divider for growing puppies, folds flat for storage

Cons: Very determined dogs may be able to escape, can damage dog’s teeth if they chew on the crate.

How to begin crate training

  1. Before getting your dog, set up the crate in the desired area of your home (some dogs may prefer a more social area and some dogs may prefer a secluded bedroom). Adding a bed and toys may make the crate more comfortable for your dog as well. Just make sure to remove them if you notice your dog starting to destroy them.
  2. Once you get your dog, start by placing them in the crate with the door open. Reward them while they are in the crate. Do this either with food, a toy or praise, whichever your dog responds most positively to. The goal here is for your dog to establish a positive connection with their crate.
  3. Next, close the crate door. If your dog lays down or doesn’t react, reward them.
  4. Slowly begin to close the crate door for longer periods of time. Start with 1 minute and work your way up in time. Do not be alarmed if your dog cries, whines, scratches or barks. This is normal, stay strong! If you let them out of the crate while they are like this, they will begin to learn that dramatic behaviour will get them out of the crate and they will continue to do it. Your dog is safe in the crate and is just being over dramatic. Eventually they will learn that they are okay in the crate and it’s okay to not be with you all the time.

Remember, crate training will take time. There are few dogs who like the crate their first time in it. Over time and repetition, they will learn to accept and appreciate it.

Crate training puppy Cockapoo or Spoodle puppy crate training dog crate stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Tips for getting your dog to love their crate

  1. Keep your dog “naked” when in their crate. This just means take off any collars, harnesses or doggy clothes that may get caught and be a danger to your dog.
  2. Keep the crate door open all the time when you’re not using it. This makes the crate more inviting and your dog will feel more comfortable going in it just to hang out.
  3. Feed them dinner in their crate. Getting your dog to eat dinner in their crate is another form of positive reinforcement. Just ensure to watch for potential signs of food aggression.
  4. Play crate games. Get your dog to view the crate as a fun place by playing fetch or hiding snacks in the crate.
Time to Get Up! Doberman puppy laying in its bed inside a dog cage in the morning. It's in the North East of England. It's being let out. dog crate stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Overall, be patient. Like training, crate training is a learning process and will take time. Eventually, your dog will learn to love their crate and you will feel at peace knowing your dog is safe.

Resources:

AKC "How to Crate Train Your Dog in Nine Easy Steps" https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-crate-train-your-dog-in-9-easy-steps/

Preventive Vet "Choosing the Best Dog Crate for Your Dog and Your Life" https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-measure-and-choose-a-dog-crate

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