Crate training has many great advantages and can be started for any dog, whether it’s a new puppy, adult dog you just adopted or a headstrong dog at home that has been getting into trouble. This article will help you get started as well as strategies to help you crate train your pet.
Why crate train?
- Pets are prepared for travel
- Creates a safe environment for your pet when not supervised
- Aids in potty training faster
- During stressful events pet has a safe place to go
- Pets are more likely to be calm at new surroundings (veterinarian, groomer, boarding facilities, etc.)
Getting Started: What type of crate will I need?
Wire crates are the most preferred choice when purchasing a crate. It folds up easily for storage/transport and has a removable pan at the bottom for easy cleanup. Wire crates are also very durable and come in all sizes to house all dogs breeds and sizes.
Travel crates are ideal for your frequent travelers. Most airlines accept the hard plastic travel crates for cargo hold. Soft travel crates sometimes can be classified as a carry-on item and you can take them on the plane with you. Be sure to look up rules and regulations for traveling with your pet. You can use a hard plastic crate for crate training if it will be used for an extra-small breed that fits properly.
What size crate will be needed?
- Extra Small Breeds (ex. Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas, Maltese as well as other small breeds) Small wire crate 16-22 in or a Hard plastic pet carrier.
- Small-Medium Breeds (Dachshunds, French Bulldogs, Beagles, Shih Tzus etc.) Wire crate 22-30 in.
- Medium-Large Breeds (Bulldogs, Cattle breeds, Poodles, Hounds, and Retrievers etc.) Wire crate 30-36 in.
- Extra Large Breeds (German Shepherds, Great Danes, Akitas, Great Pyrenees, Rottweilers as well as other extra large breeds) Wire Crate 36-48+ in.
If you are starting crate training as a puppy be aware of the size that your pet will be full grown and get the appropriate size crate to avoid having to buy a new one when your puppy outgrows the one you have bought. Make sure your crate is big enough for your dog. They should be able to stand up, lie down and turn around comfortably.
Introducing the crate should be fun. Make it comfortable with a soft blanket/bed and a few toys. Offer treats and praise your dog every time they explore the kennel on their own. Once they are comfortable going in and out of the kennel, you can start closing the kennels for small periods of time to see how they react. If they do well start expanding time to get your pet comfortable with their crate. Gradually work out commands such as “Crate” or “Go to your bed”. Keep it simple and be consistent each time. Begin to feed all of their meals inside the crate with the door closed. This will help make the crate a desirable place. You may notice that your pet retreating to their kennel crate for naps. Once your pet is comfortable with small periods of time in the kennel when you’re home you can start advancing the training by leaving the house. Avoid any long goodbyes and work the time up gradually to avoid anxiety and accidents. Act calmly, ignore any excitement or whining. Once they are calm then your can let them out and praise them for the good behavior.
Crate training takes time and patience. Some dogs get used to the crate right away. Others are timid and take the time to adjust to being left alone. Take your time with your pet depending on their comfort level, if you rush the process it can sometimes do more harm than good.
Some DOS AND DON’TS for crate training
- DO — If your dog is having severe separation anxiety every time they are in the crate and are injuring themselves consult with your veterinarian and a professional trainer to get help with separation anxiety. It is usually treated with some training or sometimes with anxiety medication.
- DON’T — Do not leave your pet in the crate for a long period of time without exercise
- DO — Always make the crate a warm inviting place. Include toys and other chews that are suitable for your pet.
- DON’T — Puppies don’t have bladder control. Do not leave the puppy for more than 4 hours.
- DO — Find a space for the crate to go. Be sure to keep it away from electrical outlets and other things that can be a potential hazard for your pet to get into. You would be surprised on what they can still get to in the crate.
- DON’T — Never use the crate as punishment for bad behavior. This will end up jeopardizing your pet’s association with the kennel and will make the kennel a bad place.
Crate training is all about keeping the kennel a pleasant space not a undesirable area, otherwise your pet will be reluctant to continue going in it on a daily basis. It requires time and patience and there will be trials and tribulations. Once you and your pet go through all the obstacles and have established a great crate routine, it will be great for everyone!