Tips n' Tricks for Getting Your Dog to Love His Crate
One of the hardest tasks of raising a new puppy is getting him to refrain from peeing in the house.
Many people opt to use crate training, which is arguably one of the most effective methods, but often struggle with getting their new dog used to his tiny bedroom. Here are a few tips for helping him adapt to confined quarters while he learns the rules of the house.
Simply tossing your dog in a crate and expecting him to remain chill for hours on end isn’t the best option for starting off on the right foot. Imagine moving into a new home and then someone locking you in a bedroom for hours with no way out and no reasoning for being stuck there. You wouldn’t like it very much either. Help him adjust by putting him in the crate in small intervals. Allow your pup to walk into his crate on his own, lock him in, then walk away for a minute. When he isn’t whining, let him back out. Repeat this, but slowly increase the amount of time you leave him in until he gets used to longer periods.
Slip Him Treats
During practice periods, make sure to do a drive by on your dog’s crate and slip a treat through the cracks every so often. This will help him associate being in the crate with something positive and view his room as a magical treat factory where he gets rewarded for being a good boy. Of course, only slip him treats when he’s behaving and not whining so as not to reinforce bad behavior.
Add His Favorite Toy
A lot of dogs tend to love to chew on everything in sight, but you might have noticed that your pup prefers one of his toys a little more than most. When it’s time for some crate training or you’re ready to go to bed, ease the transition by putting his favorite stuffed animal or tough chew in with him overnight. He’ll be able to snuggle or keep himself occupied when he gets a little antsy about being alone. Just make sure it’s not something that he could tear apart and choke on during the night.
Put a Blanket Over It
One of the problems with crate training is that it restricts your dog from exploring and participating in all the exciting sights and sounds happening around him, which makes him feel left out of the action. You might need to block these things out so he can get some sleep. Try putting a blanket over his crate so he won’t see you and the rest of your family walking around. It also helps to muffle sounds that might scare him. A thin blanket or sheet should work, but refrain from using something so heavy that it might restrict airflow and cause him to overheat.
Use a Radio
On the other hand, some dogs do better when you give them something to listen to. It distracts them from household or neighborhood activity while also making them feel a little less lonely. Many owners find success by placing a radio next to their dog’s crate so that he can listen to music and soothe himself to sleep. The sounds of Bach or maybe even Justin Bieber will probably work, but you might want to avoid death metal.
Avoid Using It as Punishment
One of the worst things you can do when attempting crate training is to use the crate as a means of punishment. If your dog pees or poops in the home, don’t toss him in his crate. Never yell at your pup while placing him in his bedroom and don’t yell at him when he starts to whine. Doing these things will cause him to see the crate as a bad place to be, which is the opposite of want you want.
Always Leave It Open
Unless you're putting him away for the night or when you leave the house, always keep it open and accessible. If you train him right, at some point he’ll likely prefer going in there on his own just to have some peace and quiet. Leave the crate in the family room during the day and occasionally toss treats and toys in there. If your dog goes in to lie down, let him—and leave the door open.
Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible.