I am, by no means, an animal expert. Sure, I love them dearly and try to cuddle their faces at every given chance, but expert, I am not. Here are just a couple of tips & tricks that have helped me along the way with all of the pups I’ve had in my life when it comes to crate training. As a helpful point of reference, we have used this crate to train both of our chocolate Labs (Judy + Bill) and have this crate for pet travel.
|It’s safe to say that Judy initially had her own ideas about crate training.|
You, Your Puppy + Crate Training
When you tell people that you’re going to crate train your dog, you get everything from “OMG that is so mean, I could never do that to my puppy!” to “Yeah, good luck with that. We tried it once and _________.” My response is generally along the lines of “Oh, yeah. Uh huh. Oh goodness. Well, this is what we’re doing. HAVE A NICE DAY!” The bottom line is that dogs like structure and structure comes from routine. A puppy isn’t going to learn to love anything if you do it twice and then slack off–that’s everything from crate training to walking on a leash or wearing a collar. Here are the tips that have taken us from jail-break Judy to goes-into-the-crate by herself and at-will Judy!
1. Buy the right size crate. Your dog will need to be able to stand up, lay down and stretch out. You also want to make sure that it’s not too big so that the pup is able to sleep in one area and go to the bathroom in another. We only wanted to buy one size crate, so when she was SUPER TINY, we sectioned it off for her.
2. Having something inside the crate that smells like his/her people. Dane and I slept in the same t-shirts for a few days before we picked Judy up. When she went into her crate that night, we gave them to her to sleep with. In my mind, it gives your pet comfort, but I could be totally nuts.
3. Introduce them to the crate slowly. Let him/her go into it and explore it. Don’t force them in and slam the door shut. Always, always, always provide positive reinforcement (treats!) when they go in willingly and never use the crate as punishment. For a well-adjusted crate-loving dog, you’ll want them to view the crate as a happy place, or their “house”–not a bad place. I usually talk in a really high pitched & annoying dog voice when it’s time for Judy to go into her crate. “Let’s go Judy, let’s get a treat and go into your house.” She’s halfway into the crate before I’m even getting my hand out of her treat bag.
4. Keep the crate in an area where there is high-traffic in your house. We keep ours in the living room and while it’s not the most..ahem..decorative furniture piece, it allows Judy to see us even when she’s inside the crate. Sometimes animals associate the crate with being alone. This is only compounded when you keep the crate in a room that is never used.
5. For us, crate training and potty training went hand-in-hand. We would take Judy outside as soon as we let her out of her crate and as soon as we came back inside, she went back inside her crate. This is where we usually got the most judgement. “You keep your dog in her crate even when you’re at home?!” Yes, yes we do. Otherwise, how will she learn that it’s a safe place for her to be? She knew that she didn’t want to go to the bathroom in her space, so it made it easier for her to associate regular potty times.
I can happily report that at 3 months old, Judy LOVES her crate. In fact, she’s happily snoozing in there now!
I’d love to hear if you crate trained your dogs–why or why not?If you liked this post, you might enjoy: