Dogs and their ancestor's natural instinct is to find a cave or a den in the wild where they are safe from predators to eat sleep and raise their young. A den is usually enclosed on three sides and hidden away in a quiet place. This is true in our home as our dog Wyatt’s favorite place to be is our walk-in closet. He becomes stressed if the closet is unavailable and only calms down once he can go back inside. Crate training has benefits outside keeping your dog from getting into trouble while your away, it can provide a safe place during times of stress and make them more conformable at the vet or during boarding.
1. Introduce the Crate
Place the crate in a common area, but away from the main action like a quiet corner. Place blankets over three sides the crate to give the dog a sense of protection and give your dog praise for exploring it on their own, and make sure you are near the crate so the dog understands it isn’t a threat.
2. Going Inside
Use treats to entice and encourage your dog to explore the inside of the crate. Do not close the crate door yet, only when your dog enters the crate on his or her own accord with out provocation do you want to shut the door. Never use the crate for punishment, this will cause your dog anxiety and is counter productive to their training. Once they are comfortable going in and out of the crate, you can then start closing the door. Do this using intervals, 20 seconds then 30 etc.
3. Leaving the Room
Once your dog is comfortable being in the crate with the door closed you can start leaving the room. This is best when your dog is tired, so practice after a dog park visit or a game of catch. When you leave the room say "I'll be right back" in a happy tone or say nothing, and leave the room for just a few seconds.
When you return, calmly open the door and then give lots of praise and treats. Do not open the door if they are whining. Wait until they have finished whining, and then open the door. If you open it while they are whining, they are learning that this is how they can get out of the crate. Gradually increase how far away you go and how long you are out of the room. If your dog is too anxious or excited to stay in the crate, try providing fun chew toys or stuffed animals help them pass the time.
Only once your pup has perfected step 3 and can be in the crate while you are out of the house should to start putting them in the crate overnight. When you leave the room say "Goodnight" in a happy tone, so they being to associate it with overnight crate time and know that they should sleep. If possible try having a second crate in your bedroom so your dog can see you, this can help if they are whining too much.
Crate training takes time and patience. It is not an overnight solution. Have fun with it, and your dog will learn to love their crate. We love dogs! Checkout other Boss Dog Blog posts and our Leashboss products to satisfy some of your dog needs.