Adopting a dog can be a challenge. Throw kids and a full house into the mix and managing a new pet can go from difficult to catastrophic. There are thousands of tips and behavior management strategies available to make the transition smoother but crate training is often the most effective way to facilitate the training process and ensure the health and safety of your pet.
In a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), researchers found that 96% of relinquished pets do not receive obedience training. The same study showed that 47.7% of surrendered dogs are between the ages of 5 months & 3 years old. Many owners adopt a puppy with good intentions but fail to implement a proper training regimen. The following list was designed to help new dog owners introduce the crate as part of their training process and maintain the health and safety of their pet.
Step One: Purchasing the Crate
It is important to find the right size crate for your dog. You should purchase a crate large enough for your dog to stand and turn around in a complete circle. A crate that is too small is uncomfortable and unsafe. A crate that is too large is useless for training purposes. If your dog can go to the bathroom on one side and sleep comfortably on the other, his crate is too big. A dog in nature will not use his den as a bathroom. It can be difficult to find the right size crate if you have adopted a large breed puppy. Some owners may have to purchase a small crate for now and a large crate to use later.
Step Two: Introducing the Crate
To properly introduce your pet to his den you should never use force and always use positive reinforcement.
Allow him to approach the crate; leave the door open. Do not close him inside of the crate or infringe on his space. You want to avoid scaring him or inducing anxiety.
If the dog does not approach it, toss a piece of hot dog or another special treat inside and lure him into the crate by holding another piece in your hand
When the dog enters the crate to eat the treat, reward him with praise and attention.
Positive reinforcement is effectively used for all types of training and involves creating a positive association in your dog’s mind. Your puppy will learn to associate the crate with a happy feeling.
Give the crate a name or a command word that everyone in your family can use.
Step Three: Positive Reinforcement
Once you have praised the dog for going inside of his crate, you can add a command word and positive reinforcement.
Say the dog’s name, followed by the command, before tossing the treat into the crate. For example: point at the crate and say, “Eddie, go to your room”.
Once the dog steps inside to retrieve the treat give him plenty of praise.
When you offer praise, do so by petting him and saying the words “good boy/ girl” followed by his name & the command. For example, “Good boy Eddie; Go to your room”.
Use a calm but happy tone.
It is important to say good boy and state the dog’s name before giving him a command or before praising him for obeying the command. Repeat the name of the command to reinforce the act in your pet’s mind.
Step Four: Repetition
You should repeat the training technique several times before you actually use the crate. This will establish a positive association before he has to sleep in it. Repeat steps two and three as many times as possible. Once he has eaten enough treats you can use a toy to entice him into the crate.
Step Five: Using the Crate
Once it is time for bed, you will repeat the same training process you used earlier.
Lure your dog into the crate and gently close the door. Don’t forget to praise him.
Cover the crate with a blanket to reduce anxiety.
Leave a blanket or bedding inside the crate for comfort.
Most dogs experience anxiety in a new environment. Don’t feel upset if your pup cries the first few nights.
If you continue the training techniques and keep the space around his crate comfortable and quiet, he will eventually stop crying and fall asleep.
Be sure to feed, water, and potty the dog before putting him in the crate to sleep.
It is important to note that your puppy should only remain crated for short periods of time. Leaving your dog in his crate for too long is cruel and unfair and will only cause him stress and fear.
You can leave your pup in his crate for one hour per every month he is old, plus one. For example, a five-month-old puppy can stay in a crate for six hours.
Exercise common sense when implementing training techniques. A well-behaved dog can bring joy into your home and offer unconditional love and happiness. Your pet deserves to be valued as a member of the family and treated with respect.