Crates are one of those things people can be divided on, but when used properly make an awesome training tool. The crate should be big enough for the dog to stand and turn around comfortably, but not too big or it won’t help with the all-important potty training. If you’re going with crate training, there’s some important things to keep in mind.
- Use the crate at night. Puppies and recently adopted dogs shouldn’t have too much freedom to wander around your house while you’re asleep. The small space will encourage puppies or dogs that aren’t yet houstrained to hold it until you take them out in the morning. Many dogs end up seeing the crate as their den of sorts and as they get older will go right in with no need for you to lock the crate door.
- ¬†Make it a positive experience. Have one specific chew, treat or treat-dispensing toy that they only get when they’re in their crate. After a while you’ll find that they’ll be excited to run right in there!
- Make it a sanctuary. Like any of us, dogs need a spot to call their own and retreat from the world when things get too chaotic or they’re tired. Children shouldn’t be allowed to play in there or harass the dog while they’re in their “safe spot”. Keep it accessible for your dog should they choose to hide in there. Puppies should get some mandatory quiet time there after being played with, just like you would give a small child a nap.
- Use it as a punishment. If you stick your dog in the crate to punish him, he’s going to immediately associate it with negative experiences and in the future won’t willingly go in there. It’s such a simple concept, but one that just doesn’t occur to most people. If you want your dog to like the crate, don’t use it as doggie jail!
- Stick them in there all day. If you have to crate your dog for hours while you’re at work or gone during the day, then you might want to reconsider having a dog in the first place. Puppies can be difficult here, especially if you’re trying to raise one while working full time, but they make baby gates and indoor play yards for this reason. Things you can also consider are having a friend or family member come by, dropping him off at a friend’s house for a play day, or taking them to doggie daycare.
- Force the issue. Some dogs take to crates and love them for the rest of their lives. Some absolutely hate them. My parents’ dogs run right in, my dog won’t get in a crate to save her life. It’s up to you to judge what’s best for your individual dog, and crate training works like a charm for some people and is hell for others.