Acclimating Your Dog to His Crate – Method #3

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SAFETY NOTE: This article is part of a series of articles on crate training. Before starting any of the training outlined below, make sure to read the introductory crate acclimation article. There you’ll learn about setting up the crate properly to avoid startling your dog and read the safety notes to ensure that your training goes safely and successfully.

Method #3: Good if Your Dog Can’t Be Lured into the Crate with Treats

If you’ve tried Acclimation Method #2 and found that your dog’s too scared to take any treats, or that he’ll take the treats outside the crate but once they’re in the crate just stares longingly at them and refuses to budge, you’ll need to give him a bit of help. He may think the crate is way too scary and he isn’t interested in risking life and limb for a few measly treats!

In this case, the next step would be to physically place your dog into the crate. If he’s a little guy, just pick him up and put him in. If he’s a bigger guy, you can lead him in with one hand on his collar and one under his belly.

NOTE: If your dog is a large adult dog you don’t know well, or if he’s shown any signs of aggressive behavior, we don’t recommend that you try to physically put him in his crate – this could cause an aggressive dog to bite. If you’re not sure you can safely put him in his crate, try luring him in with treats or seek the help of an experienced professional dog trainer to help you introduce your dog to the crate.

Once he’s inside, he’ll likely want to turn around and run right out, but try to prevent him from doing so by gently holding him inside the crate, petting him and talking to him. Do this for a few seconds, then let go of him and allow him to come out. Repeat this several times per session, gradually increasing the length of time you have him stay in before letting him come out. Praise him and pet him when he’s in the crate, or – if he’s gotten hungry now that his initial fear of going into the crate isn’t on his mind – give him some treats when he’s in the crate.

As he feels more comfortable, stop using your hands to hold him in the crate. Once he’ll stay for a few moments in the crate without restraint as you pet him or give him treats, try gently closing the door without latching it for just for a second. Hold the door closed with your hand and tell your dog he’s a good boy, or give him a single treat through the front gate then open the gate to let him out immediately so he learns that a closed door isn’t scary and doesn’t mean he’s locked in there forever. Be sure to keep a firm hand on the door as you open it so that it can’t move suddenly and frighten your dog as he comes out.

Repeat this step, gradually leaving the door closed longer and giving more praise or treats before opening up. If this is going well, latch the door and step away from the crate for a moment before returning to give your dog his praise or treat. Gradually step away a little farther and a little longer before returning to give your puppy some praise or a treat.

Once you’re able to step away from the crate for 30 seconds at a time, you should be ready to try leaving your dog in his crate a bit longer. For this part of the training, you’ll need something yummy that will take a while for your dog to eat or chew. This should be something other than his normal chew items – something of extra-high value that he only gets when he’s in his crate. You’ll make your puppy very happy with a safe chew bone like a pig ear from the pet store or a raw marrow bone from the butcher. A hollow rubber toy filled with something yummy is another good choice. Most dogs go crazy for a hollow toy stuffed with canned dog food; if you freeze it before giving it to him, it’ll keep him busy for a nice long time! If you worry that the canned food may give your dog a bit of an upset tummy, mixing plain boiled white rice with the canned food will help to prevent diarrhea.

Some dogs are too busy thinking about how to escape and won’t chew or eat their special bone or toy in the crate. If your puppy ignores his bone in the crate, then tries to pick it up and bring it out with him, take it away from him and put it away until next time he goes into his crate. He can only have this special treat in the crate. After missing out on it a few times, he’ll get the idea.

Gradually leave your puppy in the crate for longer periods as he becomes comfortable. If you find that he engages in bratty behaviors like barking or trying to dig his way out of the crate, you may need to correct these behaviors before leaving him unattended in his crate.

Purchase Supplies Related to This Article

Midwest Life Stages Crate

This solid all-purpose crate is an especially smart choice for young puppies, since it comes with a divider that allows you to expand the crate as your puppy grows so it’s always just the right size.

Jerky Treats

Jerky Treats are great for training… dogs love them and they’re easy to break into bite-size pieces while you train! You’ll love this bulk deal for the price; your dog will love it for the 3.5 pounds of yumminess!

Natural Balance Dog Food Roll

Natural Balance Dog Food Roll is great as a food, but even better as a training treat! Cost-effective, yummy and easy to use. My personal favorite… I use it with almost every dog I train!

Pig Ear Chews

OK, I admit it… pig ears kinda gross me out. Still have to recommend them, though, since every dog I’ve ever met totally disagrees with me. They REALLY love ’em!

Bacon-Flavored Hollow Toy

This hollow bacon-flavored Dura-Chew toy will make your dog very happy… especially if you fill it with something like peanut butter or KONG Stuff’N! Yum!!

Bully Sticks

If you’re looking for a tasty, long-lasting chew for your dog, Bully Sticks fit the bill – and these multi-packs are a great deal!

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