“Cosy and private 1 bedroom with a view” can be ideal for travel or those just wanting a quiet and secure location to relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of a busy lifestyle and escape the crowds. That is how your dog should be able to describe the sanctity of his crate. To be viewed as a place of comfort and solitude whilst providing owners with peace of mind that their beloved pooch is safe (and so is their house!)
Crate training is an effective training tool for puppies and adult dogs. It assists in managing toilet training regimes and keeps puppies and young dogs alike, safe from harm and out of mischief when they are unable to be supervised.
Dogs need to be trained to use their crates and how you approach crate training will have a strong impact on your success.
- Type of crate – There are numerous types o crates available. Plastic (airline approved) crates, wire collapsible, metal and fabric crates with zip up mesh doors, these should only be used if you are certain your dog is happy and calm inside and not inclined to scratch through the mesh.
- Size – A crate should be big enough for a dog to stand up, turn around easily and lie down.
- Bedding – Bedding should be comfortable and cosy making it an appealing place to curl up for a nap, however revise this for a minimalistic approach if the dog is a bed chewer providing that enrichment options have been exhausted first.
- Water – When enclosed in the crate the dog should always have access to water, there are bowls designed for hanging in the wire and plastic crates or alternatively no spill style bowls.
- Toys and treats – Providing toys and treats will increase the likelihood that the dog will view the crate as an enjoyable place to hang out if good things always happen in there why wouldn’t you want to go back? Rubber chew toys filled with food will help the dog pass the time in an enjoyable way, even his favourite snuggle toys will make his crate cosier haven.
- Location – Where possible set the crate up in a central part of the home (living room, TV room etc.) This will encourage investigation and use of the crate without the dog feeling isolated away from the family, particularly important in the initial training period where you are building positive associations.
A good rule of thumb when beginning crate training is to create a positive association with the crate. This is where a treat stuffed rubber chew toy will come in handy.
- Step 1: Introduction to the crate
- Place the crate in a central location with a comfy bed inside, where possible remove the door to avoid is swinging or knocking the dog and causing a fright. Allow the dog to explore at leisure, move over to the crate and start speaking to the dog in a happy tome of voice. Encourage entry by tossing a handfull of treats inside. Don’t crowd the dog let them enter and explore under his own volition. In passing continue to toss treats into the crate at every opportunity until he is alomst beating you to get in there, each time he enters the crate start creating a verbal association by repeating the word ‘Crate’ or ‘Bed’.
- Step 2: Feed Meals and stuffed treat chews inside the crate
- If the dog is readily hopping into the crate on your approach o it, place his food bowl in front of him, if he is still hesitant place the bowl up the back of the crate to encrourage entry. Once the dog is comfortable eating in the crate close the door while he eats, the first few times open the door as soon as the bowl is empty, with each successive meal leave the door closed a few minutes longer. Before opening the door each time ask the dog to sit and feed a treat through the top of the crate. then Open the door and invite the dog ot which should help minimise a frantic exit, here you can use the same verbal cue you might use to release the dog from a stay ‘Free’or ‘Break’.
- Step 3: Lengthen the crating period
- Once the dog is happily eating meals and treats inside the crate without any fear or anxiety, he can be confined for short periods of time whilst you are home. Continue to send the dog into the crate on a verbal cue and reward with a food filled treat dispenser. Go about your usual routine and release the dog from the crate after a period of time, build and extend on this where possible. After your dog can spend approximately 30 minutes in the crate with you at home but mostly out of sight you can attempt short trips out o the home. Make your depatures and arrivals low key no emothional long goodbyes and hellos, rather be matter of fact in your approach. This will help reduce any anxiety created by your departure and your return.
Crate training can be further utilised as a training aid in the home to teach exercises such as Stay and recall etc. as well as help to reduce phobia’s by giving the dog a safe place to be when anxious.
Cats can also be taught to use a crate, the process is much the same but may take more patients depending on the personality of your cat.