Why is Crate Training Important?
Some people think of crate training as a cruel way to confine their dog, but crate training your dog really plays a vital role for the dog's well-being.
- Has your dog ever been injured needing to be kept up for recovery? This is not the time to start teaching him to like a crate.
- Have you ever left a dog to go on vacation? If they already know a crate, it makes it easier on them because they will be kept in a kennel.
- And perhaps most importantly, it also teaches your dog that he can be alone.
After Ten years of rescue experience I can honestly say many dogs are given up by owners because of separation anxiety. It is a long, hard process working with a dog that has already developed separation anxiety. If you invest time in training now, you can avoid creating separation anxiety in your dog. Remember, the goal, in owning and training a dog, is to have a healthy, happy, well balanced animal. Crate training can go a long way in achieving this with your dog.
Start by feeding the dog in the crate and making it a "good" place to go. Anytime the dog eats, the food is only available in his crate. You can also stuff a kong, and after he has been outside to do his business, you can place him in the kennel to relax and enjoy his stuffed kong. Make a game out of it, and be sure to give a command to associate the action. You can use "kennel up" or whatever command you want to name it. Throw a treat or toy in the crate and say "kennel up." At this stage you are keeping the crate door open, so the dog is free to come right back out. Repeat this several times.
It is always easier when you have been out playing with a dog or puppy to have them come in and lay down to sleep or settle quietly in their crate. Use this to your advantage during crate training.
Crate for short periods throughout the day at first, so they understand that they are coming back out. Make sure you do not take a dog out of the crate when they are barking or whining because you are then teaching them every time they bark/whine you are going to let them out. If they quiet down, for even a few seconds, take them out right away.
With puppies especially, make sure as soon as you take them out of the crate they go directly outside to potty. Puppies don't have big bladders and need to go out as soon as they get up, so be ready to take the puppy outside. If you follow these crate training guidelines, your dog will be happy to go in his crate. It will be a quiet, peaceful place for him to go where he feels secure and he will not develop bad separation anxiety habits (like destroying your house).
Please remember, you do not have to be gone from the house to crate your dog. He can go in his crate periodically throughout the day, even with you in the same room. Dogs that have been crate trained will frequently choose to go in the crate to take a nap, even with the door remaining wide open. Dogs will run to their crate and jump in it when they know it's feeding time. My dogs will beat me to the crate when I'm ready to leave for work, even before I've gotten their treats out. These are healthy, happy, well balanced dogs, not prisoners of a big bad crate.