Selecting a Crate:
Crates may be plastic (often called “Flight Kennels”) or collapsible, metal pens. They come in different sizes and can be purchased at most pet supply stores. Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. If your dog is still growing, choose a crate size that will accommodate his adult size. Block off the excess crate space so your dog can’t eliminate at one end and retreat to the other.
The Crate Training Process:
Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament and past experiences. It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training: the crate should always be associated with something pleasant, and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don’t go too fast.
Introducing your dog to the crate:
- Place 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. Bring your dog over to the crate, and talk to him in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won’t hit your dog and frighten him.
- To encourage your dog to enter the crate, drop some small food treats nearby, 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 you dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food.
- 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. After a couple of days, place the food inside the crate.
- Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat his meal, you can close the door while he’s eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as he finishes his meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer. If he whines or cries in the crate, it’s imperative that you not let him out until he stops. Otherwise, he’ll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so he’ll keep doing it.
Crating your dog when left alone:
- After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him crated for short periods when you leave the house. Place a few of his favorite toys in the crate to help keep him occupied.
- Don’t make your departure emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give him a treat for entering the crate, and then leave quietly. Keep arrivals home low key to avoid increasing his anxiety over when you will allow him out.
A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated.