Crate training is a valuable tool in our toolbox for managing our dog (or puppies) behavior. A lot of “dog training” is managing naughty behavior as our dogs build good habits and mature, and utilizing a crate is one of the best ways to prevent mistakes in potty training, decrease destructive behavior, and provide our dogs ample daily structure and downtime. In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of crate training and provide a step-by-step approach to ensure a positive experience for both you and your dog.
Understanding the Benefits:
Safety and Security:
- Dogs are den animals by nature. A thoughtfully introduced crate provides them with a secure and confined space, reducing anxiety and stress. Activity = anxiety, for many dogs!
- It keeps them safe from household hazards and prevents destructive behavior when you’re not around.
- Dogs instinctively avoid soiling their living spaces. A crate can be a useful tool in housetraining by teaching them to hold their bladder until they’re outside, and preventing mistakes in the house. Tip: when a new dog or puppy is “free” in the house, they should be on a leash and directly under human supervision.
- Crate-trained dogs are more adaptable to travel, whether it’s a short car ride or a long flight. The crate becomes a familiar and comforting space for them. You’ll also want your crate handy in your hotel or Airbnb, so your dog is safely confined and can’t get themselves (or your five-star Airbnb rating) in trouble!
Management of Behavior:
- Crates aid in managing behavior issues such as excessive barking, chewing, or jumping. It allows you to control their environment until they learn appropriate behavior.
Step-by-Step Guide to Crate Training:
Choose the Right Crate:
- Select a crate that is appropriately sized. It should be large enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but not so large that they can use one end as a bathroom. If your dog is showing long-term success in the crate, you can upsize it.
- We only recommend wire crates for dogs that are incredibly solid in their kennel. Wire crates are easy to escape and can cause significant damage to your dog if they attempt to do so. We love Ruffland and KBC Kennels.
Introduce the Crate from Day 1, if possible:
- Place the crate in a central, low-traffic area with the door open.
- Feed your pup each meal in the crate, so they have a positive experience inside of it.
- Use bully sticks, food puzzles, frozen kongs, and other high value items to entertain your dog inside the crate.
- Create a routine that includes crate time throughout the day. We want to make sure our dogs are sufficiently exercised and mentally satisfied, but not dependent on following us around the house all day or receiving constant attention!
- Establish a consistent routine for crate time, such as during meals or when you leave the house. Consistency builds a sense of predictability for your dog.
- It’s natural for dogs to protest initially. However, avoid letting them out when they whine, as this reinforces the behavior. Wait for a moment of quiet before opening the crate.
- If you feel your dog truly needs to go to the bathroom, you can take their whining as a signal to let them outside… but only if you think it’s a true need! Otherwise, wait for a few seconds of quiet first.
Crate training is a powerful tool that, when approached with a clear-head and positivity, can lead to a well-adjusted and happy dog. Remember, every dog is unique, so be attuned to their individual needs and adjust the training process accordingly. By investing time and effort into crate training, you’re not only creating a safe space for your dog but also fostering a trusting and harmonious relationship between you and your new pup. Happy training!