Tips on Crate Training Your Dog

Make Your Dog’s Crate a Place of Comfort

Have you recently welcomed a new canine into your family? If you have a new dog, starting them on a kennel training program is key to beginning your lives together. Crate training allows both dog and owner the expectations of a calm home atmosphere and minimal behavioral issues. With crate training, dogs learn responsibility and independence, and humans may be spared property destruction and sleep deprivation. 

Some may contend that crates are cages to confine frightened dogs. However, the correct training may actually ensure that a crate can be a safe place of relaxation and comfort for the animals. 

How long it can take to properly crate-train a dog depends on its age and experience, as well as its temperament—and, of course, the human trainer. In most cases it’s a matter of days or weeks. Two well-established rules for success:

  1. Make sure the crate is always associated with pleasant rewards (think treats and favorite toys).
  2. The process should take place as a series of small, repetitive steps. 

We’ve compiled some wisdom and advice below. These training tips have worked for many dog parents, and could help you and your pooch get off to a cozy start.

Choose the Best Crate for Your Dog

Important things to consider when purchasing a crate for your new pet are its construction and size. The two most popular crate constructions are wire (open air style) and hard plastic (more enclosed and compatible for airline travel). There are also heavy-duty, collapsible canvas crates made for travel. Look for durability, comfort, and practicality for your lifestyle. (Tip: If you get a wire model you can always drape a blanket or towel around it for dogs who prefer more privacy.)

As for size, the crate should be large enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down. If it’s too large, a puppy may want to use the extra space as a bathroom. Some wire crates come with removable dividers that allow the dog to grow into its full capacity. Check out this great buyers’ guide to finding the right crate

Furnish the Crate

What to keep in your dog’s crate may take a little trial and error. Some dogs will chew up their beds and some will actually prefer hard surfaces. Experiment with beds, mats, and blankets to see what your furry friend likes best. Food and water bowls should be proportionate to the dog’s size. 

And never run out of treats and toys, which will make all the difference in your training plan. 

Encouraging Your Dog to Enter—and Stay—in the Crate

From the moment you bring your dog home, you can begin training the pup by keeping the crate close by you, with the door open, and making every association with the crate a positive one. The crate should be placed where family members hang out most, such as the kitchen, den, or playroom. Begin by leaving treats and toys near the crate. Then, move them just inside the crate. Finally, keep moving them progressively further back in the crate, keeping the door open at all times. Go with the dog’s pace and don’t rush the process. 

An effective trick to begin to extend your dog’s satisfying time in the crate is to give him or her a KONG or similar toy filled with frozen peanut butter. If the dog is engaged in a fun, stimulating activity that requires a bit of time and work to reach the treat inside, it helps the dog get used to being in the crate for a longer period. 

How to Build Crate Time

The real training begins after your dog is confident with eating meals and playing with favorite toys in an open crate. The next steps should continue in the same unrushed, gentle vein. 

Check out these three detailed plans by experts in training and nurturing dogs through the crate training process. You may find tips in each that you could combine to customize the best plan for you and your dog.

  1. How to Crate Train Your Dog in Nine Easy Steps from the American Kennel Club.
  2. How to Crate Train Your Dog from PAWS, a non-profit organization in Washington state working to “help cats, dogs and wild animals go home.”
  3. The Humane Society of the United States also has detailed guidelines for building crate time. 

Since puppies and adult dogs have different needs and limits, we include a guide specifically targeting how to crate train and how to housebreak your puppy, by the founder and editor-in-Chief of Dogs Naturally Magazine. The site is packed with information about “crate games,” “go to your bed” cues, and conditioning your puppy for short, then longer, stays in the crate. You’ll learn how to lengthen crate time, what to do about accidents in the crate, and other behavior. 

Hunting Dogs 

Hunters with well-trained dogs know the thrill of taking them out for a day in the field. For this special group, crate training is essential. If you have a pup that you are confident will be your next BFF hunting buddy, start the crate training now.

Check out these links for training tips and success stories for hunting dogs:

Protect Your Home with Farm Bureau Insurance

Having a well-behaved and crate-trained dog can help save your home from damage. Continue to protect your home with a high quality, affordable homeowners insurance in Arkansas. To get a quote, find a local Farm Bureau agent today.