Tips for Crate Training Dogs

Crate training dogs is valuable for many applications, such as potty training, reducing anxiety and calming a puppy. However, when crate training, it's important to make the experience positive so your dog will enjoy his crate.

Positive Crate Training

Any dog can be crate trained, but some will have negative associations with their crate, which makes it more difficult. The best time to begin crate training is as soon as you bring home a new puppy. However, older dogs can learn to use a crate as well.

To introduce the crate to your dog, toss treats in the crate and allow your dog to go in after the treats. Don't shut the door at first. Allow your dog to go in and out as he pleases. If he goes in the crate on his own, praise and reward him.

Put some of his favorite things in the crate, such as a bed, shirt or other item that smells like you, a favorite toy and a bone. Bring home a smelly, exciting bone and show it to your dog. Place the bone in the crate and close the door so he can't get in the crate. Allow him to walk around the crate, scratch at it to get in and whine.

Once he is sufficiently excited to get the bone, allow him to go in the crate. This time, close the door. Only allow your dog to have that exciting bone when he is in the crate. This will create a positive association with the crate.

As soon as your dog is comfortably going in and out of the crate, begin using it for training. Never leave a dog in the crate for more than 4 to 6 hours, and even less for a puppy. Some puppies can sleep through the night, but many need to be let out more frequently.

Valuable Crate Training

Puppies shouldn't get house freedom immediately, because it sets them up to make too many mistakes. Because puppies have a memory of only a few seconds, they can't be punished after the fact. Thus, if your puppy peed in the house three hours ago, there's no way to punish him or to use it for a training opportunity.

Before your puppy knows where to relieve himself and which objects he can chew, he shouldn't be left alone in the house. Placing him in the crate when you aren't supervising prevents him from making mistakes. Then, you can train those behaviors when you are watching, so that your dog can eventually be left alone in the house.

Crate training can be useful in teaching your puppy to calm down. If your puppy is excessively jumping or nipping, calmly lead him to his crate. Don't talk to him, yell at him or punish. Just give him a break to calm down. This isn't a punishment, just a calm place.

The most important tip when crate training is to keep it positive. If your dog ever gets frightened, you're moving too fast. Slow down and help your pup enjoy his special place.