Have you recently got a new dog? Are you scared of leaving it to its own devices when you are out and about? Well, as a new dog owner, you should definitely consider crate training your furry friend.
Crate training refers to giving your dog a safe space where you can leave it unattended for a while. A dog crate functions as a den for your buddy, so as long as crate training is done right, there are really no drawbacks involved.
If you want to crate train your dog the right way, check the following expert tips.
Get a Suitable Crate
Before we delve into the exact steps you need to follow to crate train your dog, you need to make sure that you have the right crate. Generally speaking, you must get one that is big enough for your dog; the goal here is not to hinder the dog’s movement. So, buy a crate that gives your dog some breathing space where it can sit, sleep, and stand comfortably. Also, you should consider the material of the crate you will get.
According to professional dog behaviorists, you could opt for an indestructible dog crate that is made of metal to prevent any escape attempt, especially if your dog used to be an outside dog before you adopted it. You do not have to worry though about the weight of metal crates, as most of them are “collapsible,” meaning that you can easily fold and carry them anywhere.
Find a Good Location for the Crate
Ideally, you should never isolate your dog when it is in its crate because this can lead to depression and anxiety, and after all, your furry friend should not associate the concept of staying inside the crate with punishment. Thus, you must choose a lively place where you can put the crate. This location can be your living room, for example, because your dog will be able to sense your presence and feel more at ease.
However, make sure that the location of the crate stays quiet at night because you do not want to disturb your dog while it is sleeping. Moreover, if you have a puppy, you can keep the crate in your bedroom during the first couple of days to reassure the puppy. Then, you can relocate the crate once the puppy feels less stressed or anxious.
Make the Crate Appealing
Fortunately, the way dogs think is pretty straightforward; they associate treats with pleasant, safe spaces. So, you must help your dog associate its crate with safety, not punishment. To achieve this, put the crate in your desired location, and leave the door open to let the dog find it on its own.
Remember not to shut the door early on to prevent causing anxiety for the dog, and never push it inside the crate and lock the door! Instead, fill the crate with things your dog loves, such as its favorite chewy toy or blanket. This way, you can ensure that your dog will want to stay inside the crate and feel comfortable when in it.
Start Closing the Door
The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally come! After your dog feels at ease inside the crate, you can now start shutting the door without worrying about making the dog fussy. Closing the door while it is eating its meals inside can be a great place to start. Once the dog is comfortable with eating in the crate with the door closed, increase the time the door stays shut gradually.
For instance, you can keep the dog inside the crate for five minutes after it finishes its meals, then let it out. Also, keep a close eye on your dog; if it starts looking distraught, open the door immediately.
If you have a puppy, you must allow a couple of bathroom breaks at night because it may not be able to control its bladder. On the other hand, adult dogs do not have this problem. Furthermore, you can make it easier by teaching your dog a command. You are free to come up with your own command, but words like “kennel” and “crate” are the most widely used ones. Couple the command with gestures to help your dog understand.
Crate training might seem difficult at first, especially if you’ve never tried it before. However, by following the above tips, you can crate train your dog in no time. Remember to be encouraging, and give your dog treats when it is in training. Also, be patient; crate training your dog can take up to six months, so take it one step at a time, and don’t rush it.