Lucky Chance Rescue

Quick Tips For Crate Training Your Dog

Crate Training Your Dog

It is unlikely that your dog will be perfectly house-trained when you take him or her home. Some of the dogs in our foster program have lived in a shelter for a while with minimal walks or chances to relieve themselves outside, on the streets with no training or come to us with limited information about their previous home life.  At the very least, be prepared for an adjustment period until your dog gets used to your schedule.

Perhaps you’re worried that it might be cruel to confine your dog to a crate? (It’s not, when done right!). Or maybe you’re unsure of all the benefits of crate training? (There are lots!).  If you’re at all curious about crate training a dog, regardless of their age please read the information provided. We hope to answer all your questions and walk you through a stress-free process of crate training.

Getting Started

  • Choose the type of crate you want to use

    Kennel style crates are hard plastic crates that are enclosed on all sides except for the front, which has a wire door.  Wire mesh crates are made of hard wire and enables your dog to see out on all sides. If using a wire crate you can cover the top and sides with a blanket to help make your dog feel safer. Tip: Put a piece of plywood on top of the crate that extends about one foot beyond the sides of the crate, then drape a blanket down the sides, this will keep the blanket out of the dog’s reach.

  • Choose the correct size

    The crate should allow enough room for standing, sitting, and stretching out, but you don’t want the crate to be so big that your dog has enough room to make one section of the crate the bathroom and the other the sleeping area.

  • Choose the best location

    You should put the crate in a location that will remain consistent.  You want your dog to “find” the crate of his own accord so that he is more likely to return to the crate. Keeping the crate in the same spot will make it more likely that he will find and explore the crate on his own terms.

  • Make the crate comfortable

    Put a blanket, some chew toys, stuffed animals, squeaky toys in the crate.  For the best results, try putting two or three toys in at a time, and rotate the toys every few days or so. This way, your dog finds something new and interesting every time he enters the crate. Make sure anything that is left in with the dog is sturdy enough not to be a choking hazard. You don’t want the dog chewing when he is left alone, swallowing a fragment and getting a bowel obstruction.

Steps to Successful Crate Training

  • Let your dog explore

    Allow your dog time to explore the crate on its own. Let him walk in and out of the crate at will.  Leave the crate door open so your dog can come and go freely. Never put the dog in the crate as a punishment. The crate is where nice things happen and where he goes because he feels safe. The crate is not a prison where he goes when he’s done something wrong.

  • Teach your dog the crate is a happy place

    When your dog investigates the crate, make a strong show of enthusiasm and praise. Each time he goes into the crate, drop what you are doing and give him lots of attention and encouragement. This will help him associate the crate with positive feelings.

  • Feed your dog in the crate

    The association with food makes the crate a great place as far as the dog is concerned. If the dog only goes into the crate part way, put the food bowl as far in as he is comfortable with. As he gets used to eating in the crate you can put the bowl farther and farther back. Be sure to leave the door open while you feed the dog.

  • Close the door

    When your dog has become accustomed to eating in the crate begin to close the door while he eats. As soon as he has finished eating, open the door. Don’t let your dog out if he’s whining or barking. Your dog should be calm when you open the door. Gradually increase the amount of time the door stays closed. The eventual aim is to get him to feel safe in his crate with the door closed.  If your dog starts to whine you have increased the time too quickly. Next time leave it shut a shorter time.

  • Use a crate command

    It helps to give a command that your dog associates with going into the crate. Choose a command such as “Crate”, or “Kennel” and use a hand gesture indicating the crate. When the pup goes into the crate, say the command. At meal times, use the command and then put the food inside. Start saying the command on its own, and when the dog goes to the crate, drop a treat inside to reward him.

  • Acclimate your dog to being alone in the crate

    As your dog gets used to being in the crate, briefly leave the room. Return, sit by the crate, wait a few minutes then let him out.  Increase the amount of time that you spend out of sight. Repeat the crating and leaving process several times each day until you have built up to about 30 minutes of content crate time. When your dog feels comfortable being alone in the crate for 30 minutes, you can start leaving him there while you leave the house for short periods of time.  You should never crate a puppy for longer than 4 hours at a time.

Using Crates for Housebreaking a Dog

  • Start immediately!

    Using a crate is very effective for teaching bowel and bladder control. However, if you’re planning on crate training to housebreak, you should start this process as soon as you bring your new puppy home.

  • Confine the puppy to the crate when you are home

    Every 20 minutes or so, take your puppy outside. Give her time to go to the bathroom. If she doesn’t use the bathroom outside, return her to the crate. If she does, immediately reward the puppy with extreme praise, treats, love, play, and perhaps the ability to run free about your house for a little while.

     

  • Schedule Potty Breaks

    Assuming you have a regular feeding schedule for your puppy, he’ll also have a regular bathroom schedule. Once you know the times at which he actually goes to the bathroom, you can begin taking her out of her crate at those times rather than every 20-30 minutes. When the timing is completely consistent, you can let your puppy run supervised around your house for most of the day.

  • Phase Out The Crate

    Always praise your dog every time it potty’s outside. Eventually, as your dog learns to go outside, you can work towards eliminating the crate altogether and just take your dog outside regularly.

Crate Training Do’s & Don’ts

DON′T

Use the crate for punishment or reprimand your dog while they’re in their crate. Your dog will come to associate their crate with stress and other negative experiences. Never let your pup out of his crate when he is whining or barking.

DON′T

Leave your dog in the crate all day. A dog that is locked in a crate all day and night may develop anxiety and depression. Consider a pet sitter, dog walker or doggy daycare so they can get the physical and mental exercise they need.

DON′T

Leave puppies in the crate for more than 4 hours, they can’t control their bladders and bowels that long. Housebreaking adult dogs, do not crate them more than 4 hours, they can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to.

DON′T

Make a big production when you leave. Have your dog “kennel up” and several minutes before your departure, make sure he has a chew toy or something to keep him busy. Leave the house while they’re happily playing  and comfortable.

DO

Choose the right size crate and location in your home where it will stay. Make the crate comfortable by putting a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off (or leave it open) and let your dog explore the crate and get to know his crate is a safe and happy place.

DO

Give him lots of attention and encouragement to help your dog associate the crate with positive feelings. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate.

DO

Make sure that your pup has had some fun playtime and an outdoor potty opportunity before each crate training session. Gradually increase the amount of time that he stays in the crate alone with the door closed so you can leave the house for short periods of time.

DO

Ensure your dog is safe at all times while in the crate. Make sure anything that is left in with the dog is sturdy enough not to be a choking hazard. You don’t want the dog chewing when he is left alone, swallowing a fragment and getting a bowel obstruction.

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Helpful Information

We are committed to the ethical treatment of animals, through pet adoption, promoting spay and neuter to end overpopulation and unwanted animals, reuniting missing pets with their owners and educating pet owners on the importance of veterinary care. Below you find great information to help you on your journey of being a successful and happy pet owner.