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Dog Crate Training


dog crate trainingEvery dog is a descendant from wolves. They have an inherent need not only to be part of a pack, but also to have safe place as their den. This is where crates come in. While some owners find crate training to be essential, others may not. It’s important to remember that crate training, though helpful for the dog in many respects, is not a catch all solution for things like separation anxiety or house training.

Reasons to Crate Train
Crates give dogs a place of their own, to sleep, to take refuge during an upsetting incident (like a thunderstorm or when a stranger enters the home), and to give them a safe, confined space to inhabit if they have to stay home alone for any stretch of time.

And while crates cannot immediately solve issues with anxiety, bad chewing behaviors, or house training, they are a good jumping off point. Even young puppies will usually avoid soiling their crates, stemming from deep-seated instinct to keep their den clean.

Even if you don’t plan on regularly using a crate, it is nice to have your dog accustomed to using it, if, for example, you want to take him on a long road trip. Crates are a safe and secure way to travel with your dog, but they will be less safe if your dog is not used to using it and is frightened by the confined space.

How to Crate Train
Some lucky dog owners find that their hounds take to the crate immediately. If they put it where their dog normally sleeps, cushioned with a nice blanket, he will happily sleep in the crate and won’t protest when they close the door. Other dogs may be happy to sit or sleep in the crate while the door is open, but the moment it closes, will start to get scared. On the other end of the spectrum are dogs like our youngest, who, before his training, absolutely refused to even set foot in his crate.

If your dog is not excited about the prospect of a crate, put the crate in a room your family uses a lot and leave the door open. Bring him over to the crate, enticing him with a treat. If he will not follow the treat into the crate, do not force him in, this will inspire fear of the crate. If he doesn’t seem to be enticed by the treats, put his favorite toy inside. Be patient! It may only take a minute, or it may take several attempts, over several days.

Once he will get in and out of the crate on his own, start giving him his meals in the crate. This will create very positive associations. If he’ll only go in half way, put his food in halfway, moving it towards the back every day until he is all the way inside. Once he will go all the way in, close the door while he eats and start stepping up the amount of time he spends in the crate after eating.

Once he will get into and out of the crate on command, with or without a meal, start crating him for short, and then longer periods of time. If he whines, leave him in the crate, but next time, shorten the period. Don’t let him out every time he whines or he’ll learn that whining gets him out of the crate!

Image: debster248 of Flikr

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