How to crate train a dog in 10 steps

Some people say that a dog should definitely be crate trained, while others argue and consider that keeping a dog in a crate is cruel. So is crate training necessary for a dog and if so, how do you crate train a dog correctly?

What are the benefits of crate training?

A crate may be very useful in a number of cases:

  • You are going to take a flight, and your dog is too big to fly in the cabin.
  • You are going to participate in dog exhibitions.
  • Your dog has some behavioral problems which are easier to solve if you are sometimes able to put your pet in a crate.

However, it is entirely wrong to think that crate training will solve all your dog’s problems. 

For example, if the owner thinks that a crate will save his apartment from destruction, and because of that the puppy spends too much time in the crate, it undermines a puppy’s mental and physical well-being. The pup gets bored, they acquire bad habits and when you finally release them, they get overexcited. 

So a crate is definitely not a panacea, and it does not exempt you from the need to educate and train your pet to behave correctly.

How to select a crate

It is very important to choose the size of a crate correctly. Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around. There also should be some space for the dog’s toys and a bowl with water.

That is, the length of the crate in which the dog is kept at home should be equal, at least, to the length of the dog, multiplied by two and the width – to the length of the dog, multiplied by one and a half.

The dog should never spend more than 5 hours in the crate in total. 

Don’t forget that you cannot simply put your pet in a crate and lock them in. If you want your dog to feel calm in a crate, proper crate training is a must. Crate training usually takes some time so if you are planning a flight or participation in an exhibition, take care of crate training in advance. 

If the dog is crate trained properly (provided that they are not left in a crate for too long), they perceive the crate as a safe haven where they can relax, and they quietly stay there, without trying to break free.

How to crate train a dog in 10 steps

It is important to familiarize your dog with the crate gradually. Never try to put your dog in a crate by force as this may only repel your pet and make the crate training harder. 

Crate training takes some time and effort. So be patient and let’s get started.

1) Take a treat and lure your dog into the crate. Once they are inside, praise them, give a treat and let them out immediately. Then lure the dog inside the crate with a treat once again. Continue until the dog understands that there’s always something pleasant inside the crate. 

Another way is to teach your dog to touch a target (it can be a sticker) with their nose. Place a target on the side, opposite to the entrance of the crate, and praise the dog for every time they enter the crate and touch the target with their nose. If the dog is afraid to enter the crate, praise them for every attempt to touch the crate with their nose, or stepping with at least one paw inside, and so on. The worst thing you can do is to force your pet to enter.

2) If the dog stays inside the crate for at least a second, immediately praise them and give a treat. Praise your pet and give them treats as long as they stay inside. Do not try to close the door at this point!

3) When the dog stays in the crate with the door open for at least a few seconds, try to close the door and give the dog a treat. If you see that your pet wants to leave the crate, let them go immediately.

4) Close the door for three seconds and then open it. If the dog quickly rushes out of the crate, it means that they are still afraid to stay inside. Go back to the previous step.

5) Close the door for five seconds, then for ten seconds. Don’t forget to give your dog treats all the time. It is very important to open the door before the dog starts to get nervous.

6) Introduce a command (for example, “Place!”) for entering the crate and a command for coming out of it.

7) Give the dog a command to enter the crate, close the door and step back. Go back, give the dog a treat and open the door. Gradually increase the number of steps you step back. If the dog rushes to the exit as soon as you open the door, it means that you are forcing the learning process too much.  Go back to the previous step. The dog should stay calm even when you open the door.

8) If the dog tries to escape from the crate, don’t panic. You are probably rushing the crate training process too much. Do not let the dog out when they start to get nervous. Instead, give the command “Down!” and as soon as the dog obeys, immediately praise them and allow her to leave. Then go back to the previous stage.

9) Gradually increase the time the dog spends in the crate. However, this doesn’t mean that you should increase the duration of your dog’s being in the crate every single time. From time to time, give the command to go into the crate, give your dog a treat and immediately allow them to leave.

10) If you open the crate and the dog stays inside, give them even more treats than usual. Your four-legged friend did so well and totally deserved it! 

Crate training your dog may be challenging sometimes but with enough patience and effort you will cope with it. 

August 20, 2020

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