7 Keys to Successfully Crate Training Puppies and Older Dogs

Some people feel that crates are cruel, and it's not kind to lock your dog in what is essentially a cage. This is not true. Crates are very handy to have, whether your dog is a puppy or an adult.

Before we jump into the Crate Training tips let's look at some of the benefits and how to select the best crate.

5 Benefits of a Dog Crate

  1. A crate will make it easier to potty train your dog.
  2. A Crate is a safe place for him to retreat to when you have visitors with over-enthusiastic children.
  3. When you go on vacation, a crate is a familiar area where he can spend the night
  4. A Crate will confine him should he ever need to recover from illness or injury.
  5. Crate is a useful tool in the management of separation anxiety.

Selecting Your Crate

The first thing you need to do is choose an appropriate crate. There are a variety of styles, but the most popular one is the collapsible crate with the mesh walls.

These have an easy to clean tray in the bottom and when you are buying your crate, make sure you pick one with a heavy duty plastic tray instead of a metal one.

The metal trays may rust and they are heavier, making it harder to move the crate.

Pick a crate that is an appropriate size for your dog. He should be able to stand up and turn around in it, and lie down comfortably. Your Great Dane or Alaskan Malamute will need a much bigger crate than your Bichon Frise.

Your dog's crate should be comfortable, so give him plenty of comfortable bedding to lie on while he is inside.

7 Steps to Crate Training

1. Introduce your dog to the crate.

Put it in your lounge room and just leave it there with the door open. Let your dog get used to its presence. If he shows interest in it by sniffing it or even looking inside, give him a reward. Any interaction with the crate should be positive.

2. Encourage your dog into the crate.

Use a favorite treat to tempt him to step into the crate. Even one foot in should be rewarded, and don't ever force him in. Over time, he should be happy to be lured in further and further, until his whole body is inside. Depending on your dog, this could take a few days or a few weeks but take your time.

3. Feed your dog in the crate.

When he is happy to be completely inside the crate, give him his meals inside. Don't close the door yet, just put his bowl right inside so he has to walk in to get it. This will make the crate a really nice place to be.

4. Give your dog treats

Close the door for a second or two, then open it immediately and give your dog a treat if he has stayed calm. This will teach him that there's nothing to be scared of when the door is shut. Gradually increase the amount of time that you close the door.

5. Leave your dog alone in his crate for a minute or two.

The best time to start this step is after he has had a good walk, and has eaten dinner. He'll be tired and have a full tummy, both of which will make him feel like a nap. If he is okay with you leaving for a short time, again gradually increase the duration of your departure.

Tips for Making Crate Training Easier

Don't punishment

Don't ever use the crate as punishment, by putting your dog in there when he has been naughty or you are angry. At all times, the crate should be a fun, happy place to be. Otherwise you'll find that he will be reluctant to go inside, and won't be relaxed when he is in there.

Use special toys and treats.

Keep some much loved toys and treats just for the times your pup is crated. This will make crate time even more fun for him.

Dogs love their crate, they are like their den and are a safe place to go to when they need a break from a busy household. If you take the time to train him to enjoy his crate, you'll be able to relax knowing that he is safe and comfortable.