We’ve previously discussed why crates are like comfy caves for your dogs. Now we want to tell you how to properly crate train your puppy, so they fall in love with their little cave.
Luckily, if you set the stage well and practice positive reinforcement, they’ll come to love it almost on their own!
Setting The Stage: How To Create A Cozy Crate For Dogs
The most important step in crate training is to make their space feel comfortable, non-threatening, and relaxed. Once dogs are crate trained, most times they’ll actually prefer to sleep and relax in the crate without prompting or further training from you.
In order to understand how to make a crate comfy and safe, we need to know why dogs feel at home in crates. Dogs and humans are den animals. We both want to feel safe when we’re at our most vulnerable, which is during sleep.
Back in the day, dogs and humans found refuge in caves. Crates emulate caves in a smaller and more portable format. Crates offer the same kind of protection as a cave, but just being safe isn’t enough. They need to be pleasant to spend time in too.
So how do we make crates sweet hangouts? There are a few guaranteed methods you can use to convince your dog to love their crate, including:
- Feeding inside the crate
- Placing comfortable bedding inside the crate
- Giving treats in the crate
By using these reinforcements, your dog will associate their crate with well being and comfort. You don’t even have to do it inside the crate. You can place treats on top or around the crate instead; it’s the space itself that’s important.
What Do I Do Once My Puppy Is In The Crate?
When you begin crate training your dog, vary the amount of time they spend inside. You want to gradually increase the amount of crate-time over the course of the training, otherwise the dog may be overwhelmed or have an accident.
However, you can’t be too stiff with these increases. Instead of going from 20 seconds to 3 hours in set increments, you need to randomize their time. It’s similar to random rewards with treats. It allows your dog to organically adjust to the crate.
When you leave, give your dog a puzzle toy to pass the time. This quick tip can make the transition much smoother for your dog. The toy will keep them occupied, and they won’t worry about you leaving or being alone.
What to NOT Do While Crate Training Your Puppy
You need to avoid certain habits during this period or you risk reinforcing unwanted behavior.
You should never send your dog to their crate as a punishment. This can easily make your dog hesitant or upset when crated.
When you put your puppy in the crate or release them, be nonchalant about it. If you talk to them or otherwise excite them, it will make your puppy restless. They will continue this behavior every time they’re around the crate unless you act otherwise.
If your dog is whining or barking to be let out, don’t give in. It may sound like the end of the world in there, but releasing them will plant the idea that making a scene gets results. If they’re making a fuss don’t:
- Talk to them
- Look towards them
- Let them out of the crate
Wait for two full minutes of silence before you go to open the door. That signals to your dog that barking and carrying on is not the way to get what they want.
Crating your puppy gives them a place to retreat to, to relax in, and to just feel safe. Our Chiweenie Noodle will escape to his crate when there are too many people around. When he’s there, it’s his place; safe and sound.
We wholeheartedly recommend crating your puppy. If you have an older dog, they can be crate trained as well. If you have any questions about crate-training or need a little help, feel free to contact us today.
Dreaming Doggie by Lottie
Warning by Johnn
Wistful Chihuahua by Emily May