Many people worry about or are unsure how dog crate training works. They have concerns about putting their dog in a crate and let it settle down. Well there is no need to worry as a dog crate is just like a dog den. In the wild and when they are young, the mother and her pups live in dens. These dens are quiet snug areas where the dog can rest and keep safe and warm. So really you are just taking your dog back to it’s natural state. To make your dog feel more at home make sure there is a soft bedding and perhaps cover over some of the top of the cage with towel, again giving your dog the feeling of closeness and safety.
What size should I get?
Your crate needs to be big enough for your dog to stand and turn around in. Any smaller and it will uncomfortable and any bigger and the dog won’t feel it’s like a den. Primarily dogs like to feel safe and secure.
Where should I place the crate?
Most dogs love to be near their family as they are pack animals. They like to be able to see and hear other members of their pack i.e. you and know you’re about. A good place to have your crate is somewhere where your dog can see you but not against a radiator or near a draft. Some people like to have 2, one in the main living area and another in their bedroom. It’s up to you but just remember its supposed to be somewhere they feel warm and safe.
Training Your Dog.
Crate training dogs is easier if you start when they are a puppy. Having said that all you need is time and patience to be able to train older dogs. In fact training older dogs has proved very successful.
let your dog get used to it being there. Place a familiar smell like a towel or your digs bed inside. Don’t try and force the dog in just let them realise the crate won’t hurt them. Gradually start to place toys or treats into the crate and let your dog go inside and get them. This let’s your dog build up a good association with the crate and you will soon find your dog settles down inside to eat the treat or play with it’s toy or even just sleep.
As your dog gets used to the crate and being inside start to close the door for short periods of time. Stay nearby so your dog doesn’t get worried. Just build up this time gradually and then start to pop out for a short while letting the dog get used to being inside the crate. You can then build up this time so the dog knows you will come back and always feels safe and secure.
Don’t leave your dog for too long and make sure they are walked and have fun when you’re there.
Different Ways To Use Your Crate
Dogs will automatically try not to wet their sleep area. This is built into them from a young age and is a natural instinct. They are shown by their mothers how to keep this area clean so when you start house training a puppy they will try and keep their crate clean. Remember though puppies cannot hold themselves for long so make sure you let them out every hour. Older dogs can hold themselves for longer periods but still need to go to the toilet regularly. Just make sure your dog is exercised and allowed out and they will soon learn to become house trained.
Some dogs suffer when their owners leave the house. This separation anxiety manifests itself in all sorts of ways from howling to chewing. Using the crate will assist with this by allowing the dog to feel warm and safe and if you’ve trained the dog to get used to the crate as above then
Once your dog knows their crate is a safe environment they will treat it as if it is their den. This will keep them calm and minimise the amount they chew. As they are safe you know they won’t be able to chew and damage your house giving you peace of mind. Leaving a jumper or towel which smells of you in the crate will also help the dog to feel calm and secure.
Some dogs are prone to chew, especially when they’re younger. They do this for all sorts of reasons, anxiety through to boredom. Unfortunately coming home to your house which has been destroyed by your dog isn’t conducive to a good relationship between dog and human.
Using a crate will minimise that risk. If you leave some chew toys in the dog crate this will help the dog from getting bored and keep it occupied. Filling a Kong with frozen gravy or biscuits will alleviate boredom in younger dogs. But please remember the dog crate isn’t something to leave your dog in all day.