The crate is a very useful tool that can be used to get a puppy house-trained and to correct some behavioural issues that can arise in your puppy or older dog. We are not talking about using the crate to punish your dog and if you force them into the crate it might seem that way to you and your dog. Used the proper way, a crate can be used to deal with behaviour issues like; separation anxiety, demand barking and destructive chewing. Before you can address any of these behaviour issues you have to make the crate the best place in the world for your dog.
A crate trained dog will go into their crate when you command them to. If you have to force them into a crate it will not be a pleasant experience for them and could cause further problems. A dog that will go into a crate when you throw a treat in there is not fully crate trained but you are close to achieving that goal. The crate should be the right size for your dog. Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around without having to struggle to do so. A crate that is too big will be a convenient place to eliminate if they can sleep in the other end.
Place the crate in a central location where your family spends most of their time like the living or family room. Start by throwing kibble in the crate to see if your dog will go in. If they won’t go in for the kibble you will need to start with a high value treat which you can buy from a pet store, you can use cut up hotdogs or a home-made liver treat: http://www.interactivedog.ca/liver_recipe.html. If your dog will not go into the crate do not force them to go in and just leave the treats in there and they will eventually go in on their own, probably when you’re not around.
Once they are going into the crate to get kibble you can start feeding your dog in the crate. Put kibble in their bowl and place it in the crate and let them figure out that they need to go in there to eat their food. Randomly throw treats in the crate when your dog is around and when they are not around so that they know if they go into the crate there might be a surprise in there for them.
Put It On Cue
Put going into the crate on cue so that when you say, “crate” they will go in. Throw a piece of kibble into the crate and say, “crate” when they go in. After your dog has gone into the crate about 20 times (some dogs take longer) try saying crate before you throw the kibble in. If they go into the crate throw the kibble in there for a reward. Now move further away from the crate and say crate to see if they will go in while you are not as close. Make sure you throw kibble into the crate when they go in.
Now you can say crate and when they go in throw a piece of kibble in and close the door for about 2 minutes. If your dog starts barking, whimpering or acting frantic do not let them out until they are quiet or have settled down for 2 minutes. If you let them out while they are making a fuss you can expect that reaction every time they go into the crate. Now you can say crate and when they go in throw in some kibble, close the door and leave them in for 5 minutes before you let them out. Now fill up a Kong with their favourite cookies and ask them to go into the crate and place the Kong in there for them to enjoy. When they are finished with the Kong let them out again. Now you can leave them in the crate for gradually longer periods of time. Don’t forget when they are not in the crate to keep throwing kibble in there randomly so it’s always a good idea for them to check the crate for a tasty surprise. Use kibble, Kong, bones, antlers and anything else your dog enjoys to keep them happy to go into their crate.
Now the crate has really become the best place in the world for your dog.