The crate is a tool that no dog owner should be without. It serves a myriad of purposes starting with the basic house breaking to its use during an illness or unfortunate injury.
Even for those owners who do not advocate its use and do not plan on it being a long -term piece of equipment, it is critical that you give your dog the opportunity to become acquainted with one. If at some point you need to board your dog while you are away; an overnight or more at the vet; or just basic grooming, your dog is going to be introduced to a crate. It is best to make it a positive experience and what better way to do that than in the comfort of your own home.
As with all training, make sure to be patient and take it slow. Start by placing the crate in an area where the rest of the family spends most of its’ time. Leave the crate door open and spend some time inviting the dog into the crate with treats and toys. You can place a nylabone, kong filled with kibble and some peanut butter or anything that will entice your dog to want to stay in the crate. Also placing a bed in the crate can be helpful especially if it is a bed that your dog is accustomed to sleeping in outside the crate.
After you sense that your dog is becoming comfortable in the crate, start to close the door for short periods of time while you are near him/her. Next, start to go to another area of the house increasing the amount of time over the course of a few days. The next step is to leave the house for around an hour building up to several hours.
It is important that you never leave your dog in the crate for extended periods of time.
If you know that you will be away for the day, it is critical to have someone such as a neighbor, friend or if necessary, make sure to hire a dog walker as it is important, especially for a young dog, that they have potty breaks and the opportunity to exercise.
This will help to make their experience in the crate much more positive. You can also ask the person who comes to relieve your dog to put a different toy in the crate as well as other treats to make going back into the crate something that they are happy about.
Don’t ever feel guilty about the crate. Many dogs welcome and get solace from the crate.
It can be a tool for protection when you have a puppy to keep it from getting into things that could potentially harm him/her. There is the philosophy that it replicates the den that a wolf creates for itself to be safe. Anything that you provide for your dogs that makes them safer and happier is always a positive choice.
Remember that this will be a process like any other training and it will not happen overnight. Your dog may whine and or bark when in the crate at first. Never allow him/her out until there is silence. It is always critical to reinforce the good behavior and ignore the negative behavior.