Did you know that crate training a dog can take several weeks or longer to accomplish? And that’s just introducing your dog to their crate and getting them used to the idea of it!Shop Highly Digestible Dog Chews
You need to have patience when crate training your dog, putting in good effort to ensure they see their crate as a positive place – not a place of punishment. So where do you start? First and foremost, you want to start by getting them a proper crate.
The right dog crate size depends on the size of your dog. The general rule of thumb – determining the length of your dog’s crate – is as follows:
Crate Length (inches)
Dog weight (pounds)
Under 20 lbs.
20 to 30 lbs.
30 to 40 lbs.
40 to 70 lbs.
70 to 90 lbs.
90 lbs. and over
While you’ll want to choose the size of your crate based on their current weight, you also need to think of your dog’s age. For instance, if you have a puppy that is currently 30 pounds, you’ll want to think of how large they’ll grow up to be.
However, you don’t want to buy too large, either. Part of the problem with buying a large crate is that it provides your dog with too much room. Why is that a problem?
Most dogs won’t go to the bathroom in their crate – one of the right size – because they have no extra space to get away from it. So, if they were to poop or pee in their crate, they’re going to have to lay in it. Yet, a dog with a crate too large might have enough space to go to the bathroom and still avoid it.
You should buy a crate that is intended for their adult size. If that’s going to be a drastic difference between now and then, you may want to consider buying your crates used off Facebook or Craigslist, as it will make the process of purchasing and trading that much easier.
Where do you start with crate training? You need to understand that it will take time, and that you’ll need to put in regular effort to be successful at crate training. Here’s where you start and what you should do:
First and foremost, you need to get your dog used to their crate. The easiest way to do this is to get it out in the open. The crate should be somewhere where your dog will see it, as well as somewhere the family will spend time. For instance, it’s bad practice to put your dog’s crate in the basement or laundry room if you barely spend time there.
Rather, you should consider placing it somewhere like your living room or kitchen.
Put 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 securely fastened open, so it won’t hit your dog and frighten him.
To encourage your dog to enter the crate, drop some small food treats near it and then just inside the door. Finally, drop the treats 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 your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days.
Once your dog sees their crate and gets used to it being in the house, it’s time to introduce them to it. You need to start by getting them in it first. Coaxing them might not be easy, but you can achieve it with a food incentive.
There are two ways you can do this: give them their meals inside of their crate, placing their food bowl into the back of the cage, or placing collagen chews inside their cage. Your dog may be anxious to get into the cage at first, so it’s best to ease them in there. Most of all, you don’t have to close the cage door behind them once they’re inside.
When you’re first starting out, let them eat with the door open. It will reduce their anxiety, allowing them to eat without worrying they’ll be stuck inside.
Once they’ve grown accustomed to eating inside their crate with the door open, you can begin closing the door behind them to see how they react. After doing this a few times, you can even ask them to go into their crate throughout the day, closing the door behind them – once inside – and giving them a treat for getting in.
This is a simple, gradual way to get them used to their crate, which values positive reinforcement above all else.
Once your dog has gotten used to eating their meals inside their crate and can deal with being inside their crate on off-meal hours, you’ll want to work on spending longer periods of time in their crate.
If you haven’t started introducing a command with their crate, now is the time to start. For instance, a command as simple as “crate” can be enough to get your dog’s attention. It’s an easy way to associate heading into their crate. Once they get inside, hand them a treat and show positive reinforcement. But now you’ll want to step away from their crate.
Up until this point, you’ve likely stood nearby while they’ve been in their crate, watching for signs of worry and anxiety. However, you now need to start giving them space. This is the only way you can get them used to being alone in their crate.
But don’t think you can just walk away and leave them alone for an hour or longer. Slowly work up to giving them time alone. For instance, get them into their crate, close the door, and hang out in the room for a few minutes. Once they’ve laid down, go into the other room. Come back in another 10 minutes or so, to show them you haven’t left, and then go back to what you were doing.
Gradually, over time, you can increase the amount of time you spend away from them, getting them used to being inside their crate. Soon enough, they’ll see it as their own personal safe space.
Once your dog begins spending more time inside their crate, you need to make sure to take off their collar before they head in. Some dog owners like taking their dog’s collar off once they’re indoors, while others choose to leave it on at all times.
If you’re the latter owner, you should take it off before they’re told to “crate.” Why? Collars and crates do not pair well together. The major danger is that their collar can get stuck in the bars of their cage. If stuck, your dog is bound to start thrashing to free themselves. While doing so, they may either choke themselves or seriously injure themselves.
Remove their collar before and avoid any potential injuries.
One of your first challenges is leaving your dog alone while you’re not at home. A major worry, especially for those of us that live in condos and apartments, is that your dog will begin loudly barking, causing an issue for others.
For that reason, you should try leaving in increments and see how your dog reacts. For instance, leave your house for 10 minutes, standing outside your door and listening for your dog’s reaction. If they perform well, increase your time away to 20 minutes next time, going for a short walk.
Not only will this allow you to gauge how your dog reacts while you’re away, but it will equally allow the two of you to become more comfortable being apart from one another.
The greatest challenge you’re bound to face is crating your dog overnight. The thing that will be most troublesome is your dog feeling overly isolated for an extended period of time, especially while knowing you’re still in the house. You may want to move your dog’s crate into your bedroom overnight, so your dog doesn’t feel as if they’re alone. Moreover, you can act accordingly if your dog begins whining late at night, such as seeing whether they’re whining because they need to use the bathroom or if they just need to be calmed down.
While crate training a dog can be done with enough patience, your patience is going to be tested. Your dog is not going to like being separated from you, as well as being locked off from the rest of the world.
Don’t worry if some of the following happen – they’re bound to. Just take it in stride and understand they’re growing pains.
Your dog is bound to cry, whine, and bark when left alone in the crate, whether when first starting out or later on when they want to just be outside of it. Your dog is doing it to test you. They want to be out, with you, able to roam as they wish.
Ignore it to the best of your ability. If you give in, your dog is only getting what they want. You’re only telling them that they get what they want when they whine, cry, and bark.
Also, don’t yell at them to “quiet down!” or to “stop it!” This will only make your dog feel worse.
However, you should be mindful of why they’re making noise. If you suspect they need to use the bathroom, ask and see how they respond. For instance, if your code for using the bathroom is “Outside?” then you should ask and see if they respond positively. This will at least signal that they need to use the bathroom and aren’t simply whining out of separation anxiety.
One of the more notable issues you’ll deal with is ensuring your dog doesn’t become bored while spending too much time in their crate. The simplest way to avoid this is to provide them with a chew toy or a bully stick they can play with and chew on while in their crate. Beyond that, it requires watching the clock to know when they should be taken out, ensuring they’re not left in their crate for too long.
A general rule of thumb is to not leave your dog in their crate for longer than four hours, as being stuck in that confined space can lead to mounting boredom and anxiety.
Crate training takes time, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal. By employing positive reinforcement, bully sticks, dog chews, and patience, you can effectively crate train your dog while avoiding unnecessary anxiety and stress.Stock up on Bully Sticks
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