Crate training is teaching a dog to respect a crate as a safe house. It can not be
used for potty training, since dogs generally don’t like to eliminate in their own
area. It is also a secure and comfortable place to put a dog if it is not safe for him
(or other humans) to be left in the house unsupervised. The dog’s first experience
in a crate must be positive! Dogs are den animals, but that does not mean they
dog that the crate is a positive place to be, then we will have a dog who enjoys
spending time in his crate.

Leave the crate door open so that the dog can explore. Feed the dog all of his
meals in the crate.

Constantly, but randomly throw a treat or a toy into the crate when the dog is not
looking. Let the dog enter the crate to eat the treat or to get the dog toy. This will
encourage the dog to enter the crate to get good things, and will help associate
good things with the crate. Do this at least 10 times per day. Continue with step
#3: Praise the dog when he is in the crate. Let the dog exit at will. (Do NOT praise
the dog or treat the dog for exiting the crate. This teaches the dog exiting is just as
good as entering, and you want to reward the dog for going into the crate. All
praise and treats are given to the dog when he is physically inside the crate.) If
your dog is reluctant to enter the crate, leaving a “treat trail” from outside of the
crate to inside the crate helps and continue step three.

Once your dog has no problem entering the crate, you may begin to add a cue
word if desired. (Examples: “Crate,” “Kennel Up,” etc.) Say the cue word once
and toss a treat into the crate. Throw up to 5 treats through the bars of the crate
(with the door open) if the dog is staying in the crate. Ask your dog to exit the
crate and as soon as the dog exits the crate all treats stop. Repeat.

Cue the dog to “crate” and then give the dog a busy toy, such as a stuffed Kong.
Let the dog enjoy the busy toy for a couple of minutes, then let the dog out of the
crate before the dog is finished with it and take away the toy. Repeat for at least
one week, about three times per day.

If the dog is still not entering the crate automatically, encourage with more food,
toys, and praise. Throw treats and toys into the crate as in step #2, and continue
to feed every meal in the back of the crate. You may also put the water bowl in the
back of the crate to encourage entry. Also, be sure crating is not associated with
you leaving. Don’t only crate the dog when you are leaving or a negative
association of isolation can occur. Crate when you are home to prevent this
association. Do crate a tired dog. Do look for true but rare panic behaviors or
anxiety. If this occurs, stop and ask a qualified trainer if you should proceed with
crate training.

Once the dog is happily running into his crate, give the dog his busy toy and shut
the door. Randomize the time the door is shut from 1 to 10 minutes depending on
how long the busy toy lasts, but remember to take away the toy before the dog is
finished with it when you let him out of the crate.

Once the dog is comfortable with the crate, you may now begin to leave the room
for brief periods of time. Return to the room the dog is in periodically to insure him
you are still there. Let the dog exit at different time intervals, as that the dog is in
the crate for 5 minutes, 20 minutes, 8 minutes... (Remember to ignore the dog for
exiting the crate. We want a dog who thinks entering the crate is fun and
rewarding, and good things happen in the crate.)

When your dog is comfortable in the crate for thirty minutes or more, he is ready to
begin to sleep inside the crate. It is strongly recommended to keep the crate in a
family member’s room for several reasons:

The dog does not think he is being isolated from his pack members.
Family members can hear signs of stress in the dog.
Family members can hear if the dog needs to use the restroom.
Your dog is almost there! Begin to leave the dog in the crate as you take short
trips outside of your home. If you have a tape recorder or video camera, it is
helpful to set this up to make sure your dog is not stressing during your absence.
Make sure to vary the time away from home up to thirty minutes.

Once your dog is crate trained, don’t forget to practice crating him for a couple of
minutes every day while you are home. If you are only using crate training for a
puppy-safe-area (much like we humans use play pens for our children), remember
to practice crate training after the dog is completely house trained. This will insure
that the dog does not forget his crate training.

* Remember only let a quiet dog exit the crate. Don’t teach your dog ‘barking
means I’ll come and give you attention or let you out of the crate.
Crate Training
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