How to Crate Train a Dog

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To crate train your pooch, you'll need to introduce it to her slowly and positively reinforce any time she spends in it. Crates provide a safe, comfy space for your dog to hang out during the day and night, while also helping with housebreaking because most pups don't eliminate in their crate. If used correctly, your pup should look forward to spending time in her crate to relax and unwind.

Preparing the Crate

Prepare your pup's crate to make it as desirable as possible for her to spend time in, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  • Make the crate comfortable by placing a blanket or dog bed inside. 
  • Place the crate in a spot where you family spends most of their time so your dog doesn't feel left out while confined in it.
  • Put a few of your dog's favorite toys inside.
  • Throw a blanket over the crate to give it a denlike feel.

Introducing the Crate

Tempt your pooch into the crate by placing a few treats leading up to and inside it. Allow your dog to explore the crate.

Once she goes inside the crate, expecting treats, begin to feed your dog her meals within it, according to the Partnership for Animal Welfare website. Distract your dog with a toy or treat and close the door quietly for a few minutes. This will acclimate your dog to being confined within the crate while doing something pleasant, such as eating.

Crating the Dog

Prior to confining your dog for periods longer than a few minutes, take her out for some exercise to tire her out, recommends the VCA Animal Hospitals website. This way, she'll be more apt to relax in the crate. Allow her to have a bathroom break while you're outside so she won't eliminate while confined.

Give your dog a command, like "crate" and lead her into the crate with some toys and treats. Close the door and stay in the room for a few minutes. Go out of the room for a few minutes so your pup gets used to being left alone in the crate. Start by confining the dog for five minutes and gradually extending the confinement time by a few minutes at a time.

Tip

  • Only treat your pup when she goes into the crate not when she comes out. This will help associate being inside the crate with good things.

Crating Considerations

When crating your dog, especially if she's a puppy, only do so for no more than three to four hours at a time, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Your dog may not be able to hold her bladder or bowels longer than this and end up eliminating in the crate. Remember to give her a bathroom break after you let her out.

Ignore your dog if she whines within the crate. Letting her out could reinforce the behavior.

If your dog soils her crate, take her out more frequently to eliminate, recommends the Humane Society of Missouri. Replace the crate with a smaller one, which only has enough room for your pup to stand, turn around and lay down. Extra room may tempt her to eliminate in the crate, away from her sleeping area.

Warning

  • Never use the crate to punish your dog because she will associate it with bad things and won't use it willingly.

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