Dog Training

Crate Training: An 8-Step Guide

Stressed dogs usually remain restless when they're travelling with you or trying to sleep. This affects your visits to the vet and many other situations. Fortunately, with crate training, you can make your pet feel relaxed anywhere!

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Table of contents

Crate training ensures your dog is relaxed in any situation

The Importance of Crate Training

With a crate training, you get your dog to see and appreciate a box as a place they can rest in. In this safety zone, your pet feels safe and can relax.

The crate should be a stress-free spot at home as well as on trips. At home, the crate is a place of relaxation, to which your dog flees to from loud visitors or too many stimuli. When traveling, the crate acts as a mobile home for your pet. As a result, they always have a safe zone to go to when venturing unknown lands.

When traveling by car or air, your dog must be safe for transport. If they like the crate, trips will be less stressful.

A crate is also advantageous for owners: you can use crate training to stay alone when need be. While your dog is in a crate and feels comfortable at home, you can let them be on their own. If they get hyper, you can help them calm down by giving them time out in the crate. The same is true if your pet needs to stay still. Some injuries or scars will only heal if they don't move around much.

Some dogs do not like other or strange dogs. In a crate, your pet can still be in the same room with the their peers.
You can use the crate to safely and comfortably remove your dog from draining situations even. For instance, when your dog is tearing apart the home furnishings or other people are harassing them, send your pet to the crate. Additionally, when socializing with unfamiliar dogs, a crate provides safety while getting to know each other.

What Crates Should I Use?

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For air travel, you will need certain hard plastic crates. Please check with the airline you have booked before flying with your dog.

Boxes made of hard plastic or aluminum are also suitable for car rides. These crates are robust and hygienic, as they are easy to clean. For small dogs, crates made of fabric are most suitable.
Crates are great if you're traveling on your own: you can handle your dog with ease.

As a mobile home, metal and fabric crates are good to go. On one hand, the fabric ones have the benefit of being very light. Both types of crates offer your dog enough space and are easy to set up at home and in hotels. On the other hand, metal crates are fairly resistant, perfect for excited dogs.

A Guide on Crate Training

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Step by step, get your dog used to the crate. Be patient and combine the crate training with positive stimuli such as praise and treats. Always keep in mind that your goal is to make the crate seem like a second home to your pet.

1) Let Your Dog Explore the Crate

Place the crate open in a room for a few days. Place treats in front of the crate and praise your dog when they show interest in the box.

2) Teach Your Dog the Crate Is a Good Place

To get your dog into entering the crate, you need to associate getting in with something positive. Treats are a good idea. This time around, place some snacks inside the crate. Increase how deep in the treats are: position the first ones at the crate's entrance. As the training progresses, move the treats to the back of the box. Praise your dog when they enter to get the snacks.

3) Associate the Crate With a Command

When your dog goes into the crate for a treat, link that behavior to a command, like 'crate.' Say the command immediately before they get into the crate. If you want your pet to learn a command to leave the crate, do the same: the moment your dog leaves the crate, add a cue to it, such as 'out.' After a while, issue the 'crate' command before you put the treat inside the crate. In the next step, try to make your pet enter into the crate without treats. They have to learn that you'll only give away treats when they are in the crate.

4) Close the Crate

If your dog likes to go into the crate, you can close it. Keep them busy in the crate with toys or food so that they grow fond of staying there. At first, close the door only for a short time and praise your pet lavishly. Later on, open the door.

5) Make Your Dog Stay in the Crate Longer

If your dog doesn't mind you closing the crate, extend the duration of their stay in the crate. To do this, put toys and food in the crate to keep them busy for a long time. Suitable food is jerky and chew sticks. A stuffed Kong can be used as a toy, too. Sit next to the crate while your pet remains there. Stay calm, take a nap or read a book. When you notice your dog is tired, let them out of the crate. However, do sit in front of the crate while doing so. Repeat this procedure several times. Your dog will think of the crate as a great place to relax.

6) Get Your Dog Used to the Crate

For this step, start moving around the room in front of the crate. Walk back and forth, but stay in the same room. If your dog stays calm, leave the room for a short time. If your pet is restless, sit with them in front of the crate until they cool off. Gradually increase the time periods.

7) Offer Treats While in the Crate

When your dog is relaxed in the crate, you can leave without first putting food in the crate to keep them occupied. The treats will help your pet learn to love the crate. When your dog learns to appreciate the crate as a place of comfort, they will no longer need treats. They may get food in their crate at times, but should not expect it every time they are in the crate.

Crate Training Tips: 6 Things To Consider

With these tips, you can make crate training a really fun activity!

1) Don't Lose Your Temper

Hectic attitudes, time pressure and stress are transferred to your dog. Crate training needs a relaxing atmosphere. For that reason, schedule time for crate training sessions. Pay attention to your own state of mind: if you feel stressed, your pet won't relax. Keep the sessions rather short and repeat constantly.

2) Place the Crate Somewhere Peaceful

Your dog can relax and rest inside a crate. Therefore, make sure that you place the crate in a quiet corner of your apartment or house. Avoid a place where people constantly pass by the crate.

3) Let Your Dog Rest in the Crate

When your dog goes to the crate, don't bother them. Leave your pet alone in the crate. Make sure that family members and visitors leave them alone too while inside the crate.

4) Make the Crate Comfortable

Your pet will perceive the crate as a kind of den. For a comfortable stay, put their favorite blanket in the crate. Make sure that the door of the crate does not slam shut when closed and scare your dog as a result. Some crates are noisy due to their material and can rattle. For these crates, put a blanket underneath first to lessen your pet's fears.

5) Praise, Praise and Keep Praising!

Don't spare praise during crate training! Your pet will love the box because they get your approval.

6) Some Dogs Relax in Closed Crates

A closed crate helps your dog to relax. This way, they feel safe from any kind of stimulus around them, for example, from children's hands. With a crate, your dog doesn't have to wonder whether to run or stay. They can rest assured in their comfort space.

Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker and I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant (IHK certificate). With these articles I would like to help you understand your dog better and build an inseparable bond.

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