If you own a dog, the idea of crating her probably makes you cringe. It’s especially difficult if your dog fights the idea and takes a lot of coaxing to get into the crate. My own dogs are surprisingly okay with being crated for cross-country trips or weekends at my parents when we are out of town.
However, it wasn’t easy in the beginning. My chocolate lab Jake is a howler and let his feeling be known loudly during crate training. The good news is that he eventually got over it and doesn’t seem to mind the crate anymore. (Interesting, his littermate Luke never gave us a problem about the crate. He ran right in and looked up for a treat, smart boy!)
If you have a cranky old fellow like Jake or just aren’t sure where to start, here are some tips to get you started.
Let’s looks at some tips and tricks to make crate training a bit easier.
Make a Good First Impression
First, put the crate in the perfect spot. Try for a place your dog likes to go on her own. Then, introduce your dog to the crate by opening the gate and calling her over. When she comes, show her a favorite treat and toss it into the crate. She might be shy at first, so coax her to go get the goodies.
Open and close the door several times to let your dog know there’s always a way out, even if she has to wait awhile. It might start out a bit bumpy but be firm and she will eventually calm down.
Commands Can Help
While you practice, teach your pet commands. This is what got my dog Jake aboard team crate – eventually. He loves commands and is one of those dogs that sits at attention waiting to be told to roll over, shake and fetch. He’s a born people pleaser. So, though he didn’t love the idea of the crate, he liked the attention and praise he got after obeying “In” and “Out” commands. Although, I do believe “Out” was his personal favorite.
If you dog isn’t as eager to please as my Jake, there’s still a way to help him warm up to the crate. You guessed it. Treats, please! Once you dog goes in the crate, say “Out” and toss a treat outside. Do “Go in” and “Out” immediately following one another for the first couple of times. Slowly, begin to wait 5 to 10 minutes between the commands. Then, provide the treat inside the crate after “Go in” as well as outside the crate for “Out.” This helps your dog associate something good with the experience.
Good Things Happen When You Close the Door
While training, there’s a technique you can use to keep your dog calm in the crate. Move slowly. Give the command to “Go in.” When your dog obeys, give her the usual treat and then close the door and drop in another goodie. Open the door when she finishes eating the treat. This exercise helps her associate the door closing with the good thing.
Some dogs take longer than others to get used to the crate. However, if you are resorting to crating, you probably don’t have much of a choice. Just be patient and try to remember you are doing it for the good of your pet and your family. Toss aside the guilt and concentrate on the process. As in other things, your dog is looking to you for leadership and strength.
Even if you don’t travel or work away from home, you may decide to crate your older dog. Older dogs with joint problems often have a hard time getting up and down the stairs. This can result in accidents on expensive flooring, especially at night. Similarly, older dogs may not have the best vision and get nervous when they can’t get around well at night or while you’re at work. This can also cause accidents.
Crating her overnight or while you go to work might be the best thing for everyone involved. See the Tips and tricking below for advice on how to start the process.
Do this in increments. If they are comfortable the first night in the crate, then things are likely to go smoothly. However, some dogs take a while to acclimate to the crate. So, just be patient. Eventually, they will get tired and go sleep even if it’s a tough couple of nights in the meantime. Remember to involve treats and praise and not to punish your dog for being loud or scared during the transition.
If you have crate train your dog for 8 hours, the best thing to do is get him used to the idea slowly. Introduce the crate to his favorite area. Just put it there and leave the door open. throw in his favorite chew toys and a soft blanket. Casually put treats in the crate so that he goes in willingly and begins to explore.
Then, begin to close the crate door for an hour, two hours, until you work your way up to the full eight hours. Crating a dog daily for eight hours isn’t necessarily bad for them, but daily confinement does take its toll on your four-leggers emotional and mental well-being. Make sure he gets at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day and, of course, give him loads of attention while you are home.
The best answer to this is at little as possible. If you work far from home or consistently work longer than eight hours, consider doggie daycare and other options that are less traumatic for your best friend.