Crate training a dog is a process in which a dog becomes accustomed to the crate and accepts it as a safe and familiar location. Crate training enables dog owners to travel with their pets, leave their dog alone and prevents damaging of their possessions. It usually takes some time for a dog to accept a new crate; therefore it is essential that you help your dog get used to the crate as easily as possible.
Since dogs naturally live in dens that provide protection and comfort for them and their young, your dog’s instincts make your dog willing to spend time in a secluded place such as a crate. Dogs naturally don’t eliminate in their dens and try to keep them as clean as possible, therefore crate training is also an essential part of housetraining your dog.
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Before you can start crate training, it is vital that you pick an appropriate crate for your dog. Carefully consider your dog’s size and the purpose of the crate. If you want to use the crate at home, it can be more spacious, but if you need the crate for traveling, make sure the crate is easy to transport and of a reasonable size.
The crate should be large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in it. However, a crate that is too large may not provide comfort for the dog since dogs naturally live in rather small dens. Furthermore, if the crate is too large, the dog might be tempted to eliminate at one end of it and sleep at the other end, hence making housetraining a lot more difficult.
If you need the crate for a puppy, bear in mind that it will grow larger in the future. Consider buying a larger crate and blocking the back end of it with a pillow or something similar. If your dog has a heavy fur, the crate should provide good ventilation to prevent your dog from overheating.
Once you’ve selected an appropriate crate, it’s time to get your dog to like it. How to do that?
It’s best to get your dog accustomed to the crate gradually. Start by incorporating the crate into a play and allow the dog to freely enter and exit the crate at first. That way the dog won’t be afraid of entering it later.
Make sure that you are calm and relaxed when showing the crate to your dog because your dog will associate any emotions you display with the crate. Don’t raise your voice and never use the crate as a form of punishment. Remember that you want the crate to be a safe and comforting place for your dog.
As with any kind of dog training, it is important that you reward your dog for good behavior. Give your dog a treat and praise him when he enters the crate and remains in it. You can also start feeding the dog in the crate to make it appear even more appealing.
It’s a very good idea to place in the crate objects that your dog is already familiar with. For example, small dog toys, pet bed and your even your own clothing (unwashed to keep your odor) could provide comfort and help your dog get accustomed to his new home.
When you start crate training a dog, make sure you do it gradually. First, your dog should learn to accept the crate and enter it with no fear. After you’re done with that, encourage your dog to enter the crate, reward him if he obeys, and try closing the crate for a few minutes. At the beginning don’t let the crate closed for longer than a few minutes.
Repeat this several times a day, gradually increasing the time the crate is closed. After a while, try leaving the room for a short time, and then start gradually increasing the time of your absence. You must train your dog to feel comfortable in the crate even when you’re not around.
Only when your dog can calmly remain in the crate for half an hour, you can try leaving him while you’re not at home. Again, increase the periods of absence from home gradually, and make sure to reward your dog for being calm in the crate. At this point, you should also try to make your dog spend the night in the crate.
If you own a young puppy, remember that his bladder control system may not have developed sufficiently yet. If so, limit the time you leave the puppy in the crate and make sure he eliminates before and after staying in the crate.
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