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Crate Training Your Dog: Everything Pet Parents Should Know



crate training your dog: everything pet parents should know

CrateDog training can have many benefits! (Picture Credit: SolStock/Getty Images)

Crate training is a common question for new pet owners. It’s important for a lot of reasons. A crate can keep your dog safe while you’re away, reduce destructive behaviors, and help with housetraining among other things.

Some people feel that crate confinement may be cruel. However, if you do it right, your dog won’t see it that way at all. The crate can serve as a safe haven where your dog can escape the household chaos and relax. It’s like their own personal bedroom.

And once they’re housetrained, your dog will have the run of the house as well as a nice little den of their own. You should always leave the door unlocked for your dog.

How can you? Crate Training Help?

Two important tasks can be accomplished with crates: housetraining and reducing boredom or separation anxiety.

Crates make housetraining much easier. Because dogs don’t like to pee or poop where they sleep and eat, they’ll likely feel more motivated to hold it when they’re in their crate.

Pop your dog in their crate whenever you’re not with them, and they won’t have any accidents around the house. This will prevent a bad habit.

Take them out for bathroom breaks regularly, and they’re more likely to eliminate outdoors. This helps them to develop good habits.

Crates can be used to help with separation anxiety and boredom.

If you stock their crate with toys, especially chew toys stuffed with a few treats or xylitol-free peanut butter, they’ll learn two more good habits: chewing on their toys rather than your favorite shoes, and settling down to entertain themselves when you’re not around.

How to Choose a Crate

A West Highland White Terrier, family pet lying down in her open crate, preparing for travel in a car. She is happily waiting to set off, not wanting to miss out on an outing. Her pet collar has a heart shaped tag on it. The much loved dog is lying down on a grey and white fleece blanket, with one of her favourite toys beside her. The wire crate provides her with a safe space during the journey. It is covered with a red tartan blanket, so she feels secure and cosy.

(Picture credit: K Neville/Getty Image)

If your dog’s crate is too big, they may feel that they can eliminate at one end and still keep their living area clean. If it’s too small, they’ll feel cramped.

Your dog should be able to get up and turn around easily, as well as being able to comfortably lie down in the crate. It should be just long enough so that their nose and rear end don’t touch each end of the crate.

If you’ve got a puppy but don’t want to buy new crates as they grow, you can block off part of an adult-sized crate to keep them in one side of it. This is why some crates have dividers.

Most crates can be made of either solid or collapsible plastic. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages.

Wire crates let your dog keep an eye on what’s going on around them. They’re good for a dog who’s prone to feeling lonely, and they’re usually cheaper.

You can double the use of solid plastic crates on car or plane trips. They also provide a den-like environment that dogs who are easily stimulated may like. You can make a wire cage cozier by covering the sides and top with a blanket, but leaving the door open.

How to Make the Crate Feel Like Home

While it makes the crate more comfortable, some dogs might see the bedding as a way to make their dog’s lives easier. You can remove the bedding if that happens. Never line the crate with shredded newspaper — it’s too tempting for your dog to use it as a toilet.

Bumper pads for the sides, like those you’d use for a baby’s crib, can make the crate more comfortable and prevent trapped paws, tooth damage from gnawing on metal, snagged collars, and other injuries.

Warm water bottles wrapped in towels can be wrapped around a puppy at night to replace the warmth of snuggling with their littermates.

If the crate is slipping on the floor, you can place a towel underneath to give it more grip.

Put the crate somewhere that gets a lot of foot traffic — perhaps the kitchen or family room — to keep your dog from feeling isolated and acclimate them to the noise and bustle of your household.

A portable crate can be purchased that you can take around with you while you are moving about the house.

How to Get a Puppy To Use To The Crate

Boston Terrier puppy in a cage, crate with the door open. Her bed and blanket, plus toys and bowls can be see in the cage.

(Picture Credit: CBCK-Christine/Getty Images)

If you’ve got a puppy, it’s fairly easy to teach them that the crate is a happy place.

Most dogs can be satisfied by stuffing a chewtoy with treats. It is best to let your dog smell it before you put it in the cage. YourMost likely, the puppy will follow.

You can also put some treats outside, then inside, then back in the crate. Your pup will then follow the treat trail straight in.

Teach them how to associate the container with treats and other good things. Allow them to explore the crate with the door open while you’re there to supervise. You should not punish your dog by using the crate.

How to get an adult dog used to the Crate

Adult dogs who’ve never been crate trained need more time and effort to get used to their new den.

When you bring your dog home, make sure they have all their food in the crate. If they won’t go all the way in, put the bowl just inside, so they’ll at least poke their head in. You can place the bowl slightly further inside the crate for the next meal; the next one even further.

In addition, give your dog chew toys and chew bones only when they’re in their crate.

Try to get in and out the crate. Talk to your dog with a joyful tone. “Go to your crate,”Toss the treat inside. Let them retrieve the treat by leaving the door unlocked.

Do this a few times, and once they’re happily going in and out, close the door with them inside for a minute or two. As long as they’re resting inside calmly, praise them and offer an occasional treat.

Gradually increase the time your dog stays in the crate, while keeping the door shut. But stay in the room. Next, you will gradually be able to stretch out and leave the room for shorter periods.

This process can take several days — go slowly and proceed to the next step only if your dog seems happy being in the crate.

Important: To keep your dog feeling positive about spending time in their crate, don’t ever put them in it as a punishment, and give them  plenty of breaks for bathroom trips, walks, and time to play and bond with you.

The crate is a training tool, not a place to stick your dog and forget about them; if a dog is spending your entire workday in their crate and sleeping there at night, they’re spending too much time confined to a small space.

What to Do If Your Dog Whines & Cries

Cockapoo or Spoodle puppy crate training

(Picture Credit: Searsie/Getty Images)

It’s common for dogs to put up some protest when they’re getting used to the crate. Usually they just want out, in which case you should ignore them — otherwise you’re teaching your dog that whining will get them what they want.

Wait for your dog to calm down before releasing them. If they are still not quiet, you can try again with a shorter time period.

However, it’s also possible that your dog needs a bathroom break. If you suspect that’s the case, take them outside, but make it all business: no playing or romping. If they don’t eliminate within a minute or two, they go back inside.

A dog who truly panics inside the crate could hurt themselves in their attempts to get out, in which case the crate is not serving its purpose as a place where your dog can feel — and be — safe and secure.

Explore other methods of housetraining, and consider whether this dog simply doesn’t need a crate to be reliable alone inside the house.

CrateTraining dogs is the easiest method to housetrain them. They learn how to relax and be entertained when you go. However, crates won’t work if you use them to punish a dog or keep them “out of sight, out of mind.”

You should only use the crate when absolutely necessary. Give your dog lots of opportunities to exercise and play with you. Make crate time more enjoyable by filling it with toys.

Are you a crate-trained dog owner? Do you have any other tips or tricks for pet parents? Please share your tips with us in the comments section below!