Crate training is a great tool to teach your dog and has a number of benefits and uses. They’re great for helping with toilet training, puppy chewing, they can be used to provide safety whilst travelling and can help if your dog is ill. But it’s not just a case of getting a crate and putting your dog in it, to help them feel safe and love their crate we need to make it a place they like to go on their own free will.
What size crate should you get?
The correct size crate is an important factor with your crate training, your dog needs to be able to lay down flat in the crate with room to stretch their legs. When they’re stood up they should be able to stand/sit comfortably without bumping their head, as well as being able to turn around easily. Even though you want them to have space if you are planning on using your crate for toilet training you don’t want it too big as this will encourage peeing in the crate, you want it big enough to fit their bed in.
Where to place your crate?
Find somewhere to place your crate that is still in a family area where the dog can be involved in what is going on. If you place it in an isolated area the dog could feel left out and could make them more frustrated. If you have children in your family you need to make sure they know that the crate is the dogs safe area and if they are in there they need to be left alone.
What to put in your crate?
Another important part is what your dog needs in their crate, first of all they need a bed, this should fill the base of the crate, and a water bowl either one the clips to the side of the crate or maybe a non spill one on the base of the crate. Do not place newspaper or puppy pads in the crate as this encourages toileting in the crate, toileting should be associated with outside so we don’t want to teach them to toilet indoors. Toys and chews can be added to your crate as well to keep your dog amused if left.
How to teach your dog to go in the crate?
To start off your training just leave the door open and let your dog go in and out as they please, if they’re not interested in going in then try throwing a few treats in and letting your dog go in and get them. At dinner time feed your dog their dinner in the crate to help them associate it with being a good place.
Once your dog is happy going in and out of the crate you can begin to start closing the door. Pop them in, best time is when they’re tired, add a couple of treats in or a chew or stuffed kong and close the door and leave them for a short period before returning and opening the door to let them out.
As they get used to being in the crate you can increase the time they are left in there, they may even take themselves in their of their own accord to have a nap.
Dogs should only be left in their crate for a maximum of 4 hours unless its overnight sleeping. Always make sure your dog has had some exercise and a change to relieve themselves before being left in their crate.
Try not to use the crate as a punishment area as this will change their association from good to bad and they won’t like going in there.