Have a Crate Time!

Benefits of crate training

Every now and then I get questioned about why the use of a crate is important. On occasion I will even get asked if it is cruel. I figured I would use this as an opportunity to quickly address these questions.

 

To answer people’s questions and concerns about if crate training is a good idea; here is my answer. Crates are GREAT!!!

Dog Crate

That being said, in order to use the crate for all of these wonderful reasons, you must acclimate and train your dog to use it.

Train the crate!!!

 

If your puppy or adult dog is not trained to use a crate, then it can back fire, causing your dog to hate the crate. You MUST (yes in capital letters!) acclimate and train your dog to enjoy the crate so that way over time it becomes a Crate place! (See what I did there lol…I said Crate place instead of a Great place. I know what you’re thinking….and yes, I am a natural comedian.)

 

Some puppies and adult dogs will learn to love their crate right away, while some might need time to adjust and acclimate. You will need to go at your dogs pace during this process, not your own.

Anxiety & the crate
 

If your puppy or adult dog is having anxiety then contact a positive reinforcement dog training professional right away so that they can help determine what is best for your dog. In these situations, the use of a crate might not be appropriate as it can cause more anxiety and stress related behaviors.

 

My friend and colleague, Linda Kheen, a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer on Long Island says, “Crate training is a wonderful management tool but can be a really bad idea for dogs with separation anxiety issues. Many dogs that have difficulty being alone also have difficulty being confined. Separation anxiety is a panic disorder. If the dog panics being alone and panics being in a crate, then combining leaving them in a crate while alone can feel like someone who is afraid of the dark being locked in a closet. In fact, for many dogs with symptoms of separation anxiety, we see an immediate reduction in symptoms when the dog is free in the house or room. I do not suggest just letting the dog roam if they do have separation anxiety as the dog can cause damage to the house or even injure themselves. Contact a positive reinforcement training professional to help you and your dog.” (Linda Kheen is Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer, who provides Separation Anxiety Consultations around the country. To contact her visit her website: http://www.positivecaninetraining.com/ )

The Do’s & Don’ts of Crate Training

In order to use a crate properly, there are do’s and don’ts, which I have listed below.

 

The Do’s
 

• The crate should be a comfortable and safe place. Place a comfortable, machine washable bed inside to male it comfortable for your dog.

• Placing safe toys inside can also make it a more enjoyable place. (Puppies should have a variety of safe toys as they are teething and in the socialization period of their life where learning is essential. A variety of different textured toys is important. To learn more about puppy nipping click here.

• You can leave the door to the crate open while encouraging your dog to go inside and investigate. (Toss some treats inside or even a really good chew like a bully stick or stuffed Kong toy.)

• Feed your dogs meals inside the crate.

• Place the water bowl inside the crate. There is no reason your dog cannot have water while being inside its crate.

• When training your dog to use a crate, make sure to set aside time so that you are not rushing through the process.

• Prior to opening the door, you can teach your dog that the only way the door will open is if he sits calmly and/or makes eye contact with you. (Once your dog starts getting the hang of crate training this is a great impulse control exercise.)

 

The Don’ts
 

• First and foremost, DO NOT just shove your dog in the crate, lock the door and expect him to be fine or even sleep through the night. If your puppy or dog has not been trained to use a crate, then do not just expect that he will be fine.

• Don’t use the crate as a place of punishment. You really want the crate to be a place of positive associations where your dog is comfortable being confined.

• If your dog whines or barks, do not just open the door to let him out. You do not want to teach your dog that when he barks, you come running over and “shazam!” the door magically opened. Your dog will quickly learn barking opens the door. Unless your dog is having some kind of anxiety, I would only open the crate door when he is calm and quiet.

• Do not have your dog crated for long periods of time. How would you like it if you were locked up all day long? If needed, get a family member or dog walker to help you. You want your dog out of the crate as much as possible while staying occupied and busy so that he doesn’t start becoming destructive and does not start making the house his indoor bathroom.

• A young puppy has a small bladder. This means he can only control himself for a limited amount of time. If he is in his crate for too long he will have no choice but to go to the bathroom in his crate. This will make housetraining so much harder for you and your dog. To learn more on housetraining click here.

Know how to crate train
 

There are many ways to train your puppy and adult dog to use a crate. For the sake of keeping things simple, here are two videos of celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell teaching a puppy how to use a crate. If you are looking for a fun way to train your puppy or adult dog to use his crate, I suggest purchasing Susan Garrett’s Crate Games DVD.

Crate Training Videos:
 

Crate Training (Go to Bed)

 

Housetraining with a Crate

 

Anthony De Marinis is a graduate of distinction from the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior. He is also a Certified Victoria Stilwell Licensed Positively Dog Trainer and a Fear Free Certified Animal Trainer. Anthony runs his dog training practice, The Gold Coast Dog full time and provides private training and behavior modification solutions using positive reinforcement methods. His website is: www.thegoldcoastdog.com