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.
If your puppy’s a cool guy who has no problem approaching or entering the crate, you should be able to acclimate him to the crate fairly quickly. Start by feeding your dog his meals in the crate with the door propped open. You can start out with the bowl just inside the crate door, then each time you feed him, move it back a bit until it’s against the inside back wall of the crate and your puppy has to step all the way inside to eat.
After your dog eats a few meals in the crate with the door open, you’re ready to start closing the crate door. Have some small, yummy treats for this part of the training. Quietly close the door behind your puppy while he’s eating. At this point, you don’t need to latch the door; just hold it closed with your hand. When your dog turns around to find the gate closed, give him a single treat through the front gate and 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.
Repeat this step, gradually leaving the door closed longer and giving more 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 puppy his treat. Gradually step away a little farther and a little longer between treats.
Once you’re able to step away from the crate for 30 seconds between treats, 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 puppy 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 dog 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 dog 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 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!!
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!