Crate training a dog is sort of like sleep training a baby – it’s an entirely different experience depending on the baby or dog — and the parents! Here are our tried and true tips, whether you’re thinking about it for your puppy, or wondering if it’s the answer to some unwanted behavior with your furry friend, we think you’ll find something useful below….
Dogs feel safe in enclosed, den like areas, and it’s their natural instinct to seek out areas around the house that make them feel secure. It isn’t a weird habit of your furry friend to take a nap under the coffee table — it’s genetics! However, while many dogs gravitate towards enclosed areas, some dogs are a little more skeptical. Still, there are times when a crate is an excellent solution to solving a behavior problem. For example, dogs with separation anxiety may actually feel soothed being in an enclosed area. For puppies, crate training can be a great way to introduce routine and boundaries for your furry friend, and once puppies hit the curious and mischievous phase of puppyhood, a crate can be an excellent way to curb any house-related destruction. If you would like to crate train your furry canine, there are a few ways to get your dog accustomed to crate time:
- Make it cozy! The comfier the set up, the more enticing it will be for your four-legged friend. We recommend putting a nicely padded dog bed inside, a soft blanket, and a few of his favorite toys. Throwing a towel or throw over the top also makes the crate feel extra den-like.
- Give meals inside the crate. When first introducing the crate, placing the dog bowl in the crate will help Fido begin to associate the crate as his space.
- In the beginning, leave the crate door open and let your pup explore it freely.
- Start to use a command with the crate like “kennel” and always follow up with treats!
- Limit the time your puppy/dog spends in the crate to less than 3 hours.
- Stay away from negative associations by using the crate as a form of punishment or time out, i.e. “you were bad, go in your crate.” Once your dog has that negative association, they’ll avoid the crate all together (no one puts themselves in time out!).
- Lastly, make sure you include a good walk before your dog goes in the crate.
You may find that your furry friend will begin to use the crate as his den for napping or even as his place to sleep at night. It can become a positive, calming and secure place for your canine, and may even help him regulate anxiety. Plus, it prevents from accidents happening when you aren’t home. Just remember, every dog is different – some take more time to feel comfortable in a crate, but with the proper introducing and a little patience, you’ll find your pup using the crate as a comforting and safe space of their own.
Have you tried crate training your dog? Please feel free to share your tips in the comment section below!