If you have a new dog or puppy, you can use the crate to limit his access to the house until he learns all the house rules—like what he can and can’t chew on and where he can and can’t eliminate. A crate is also a safe way of transporting your dog in the car or taking him places where he may not be welcome to run freely. If you properly train your dog to use the crate, he’ll think of it as his safe place and will be happy to spend time there when needed.
Selecting a Crate
Crates may be plastic or collapsible, metal pens. Your dog’s crate should be large enough for him to stand up and turn around. No more, no less.
The Crate Training Process
It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training; 1) the crate should always be associated with something pleasant; and 2), training should take place in a series of small steps.
Step 1: Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
Put the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Make sure the crate door is securely fastened open so it won’t hit your dog or frighten him. To encourage your dog to enter the crate, drop small food treats near it, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If he refuses to go all the way in at first, that’s okay – don’t force him to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days.
Step 2: Feeding Your Dog His Meals in the Crate
After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding him his regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin, put the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If your dog is still reluctant to enter the crate, put the dish only as far inside as he will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed him, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat his meal, you can close the door while he’s eating. At first, open the door as soon as he finishes his meal. With each successful feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he’s staying in the crate for 20 minutes.
Too much time in the crate can make the dog feel trapped and frustrated. Remember, the crate should feel like a safe den for your dog. It should never be abused for punishment and no dog should be locked in a crate when it can be spending time with the family