In this post, We will see together the crate training basics that will allow you to successfully home train your dog without seeking professional help.
Crate training is a very straight forward process, once you get the core idea you can easily go through with it.
Experience in crate training dogs is not required at all and any new dog owner can do it. Sure having done it before will be much helpful and will give you some insights on what to expect and maybe a clear idea about how long it’s going to take. However, this is not some advanced training program and all you need is consistency.
So to give you the short version of the article; The whole idea behind crate training is to provide a safe and intimate den for your dog. If you make this as a goal, every time you have a question just check if it serves this goal.
Let’s say for instance you may be wondering should I punish my dog in the crate! You want to ask yourself is this going to make the crate a safe place? No, then you have your answer.
Every action you make needs to be leaning toward that one goal which is making the crate a great place for your dog to be. If you make a great job making it an amazing place; your dog will get in there without you asking.
Crate training basics
So let’s dive into the 3 crate training basics or steps you need to follow to successfully crate train your dog.
Step 1 Choosing the perfect crate
This important initial step will be not only about choosing the crate; but also how to prepare for the crate training.
You need to make sure you have the perfect crate for your dog before you start crate training. As we said earlier the general goal is to make the crate a happy safe and intimate den for your dog. So if the size of the crate is not convenient to your dog or he is feeling incomfortable you’ve pretty much failed from the start.
Now, what is the perfect size for the dog crate? Well, it has to be large enough for the dog to stand without the top of his head touching the top. It also needs to be large enough for him to turn around and to lay down without his legs touching the sides. But it can’t be too large or else he will use a corner to chill and the other as a potty corner.
This sounds a bit complicated, but don’t panic I’ve got you covered; You can read this article about how to measure your dog for a crate. It has all the information you need to pick not only the right size but the right type of crates. It is in compliance with the with IATA guidance source.
This is, by the way, the crate we recommend as it comes in different sizes and it has two doors which makes crate training much easier at first.
You also need to prepare some training treats to help you lure and reward the dog. It will make a great difference in how long it takes to crate train your dog. If you have doubts about how much treats to use or which ones read this article.
You also want to have a dog toy something your dog can chew on. I personally recommend the kong as it does a great job distracting the dog in the crate.
Step 2 Making the crate great
The second and most important step is to make the crate great it’s as simple as it sounds. If you want your dog to stay in the crate while you are not around; you have to make it a great place for him to be. So how can you do that?
Simply by associating happy thoughts to the crate like food treats games and toys. You can start by feeding your dog his meals in the crate. And as he gets used to it you may move forward and use toys and other activities.
The first thing you should do is to start using treats to lure the dog in the crate. Only reward him with when he is inside the crate so he learns that the treats are only given in there.
When your dog starts offering to get in there which he will eventually do to get treats; you can start feeding your dog his meals in the crate.
The feeding time is a really happy time for your dog so using it to speed the process is the best thing you can do.
Once your dog is having his meals in the crate and enjoying the occasional treats; you can use the toy to keep your dog distracted in the crate and get him used to play in there. Securing the toy inside the crate is a good idea to prevent the dog from taking it out.
You absolutely need to use verbal praise to make the dog feel good about the crate and avoid any type of punishment in the crate. Only happy thoughts around the crate.
Step 3 Consistency in training
The reason why consistency is one of the three crate training basics is simply that it allows you to enhance the training. And emphasize the things you want your dog to be doing.
Crate training a puppy is a slow process and that’s where consistency in training comes in. You need your dog to be able to expect what’s coming and to have a daily routine. Which is why we strongly recommend having a crate training schedule. You can check the crate training schedules we provide in this article to help you make yours.
You need to repeat the same process every day and keep increasing the time your dog spends in the crate. By doing the same thing your dog is less resistant to training.
These are the 3 crate training basics you’ll ever need to home train your dog. All you need to do is to tweak it a little and change it according to what type of dogs you are training.
Crate training a puppy
Crate training a puppy is easier compared to older dogs. Since they don’t have any previous experiences and no daily routine or habits you have to change.
You just have to start with introducing your puppy to his crate which needs to be compatible with his size. That is why I recommended the wire crate earlier because it comes with a divider to use for puppies.
The separation panel allows you to reduce the size of the crate without having to change crates every 2 months.
The main difference when crate training a puppy is the time he can spend in the crate. Young puppies can’t handle being in the crate for too long so if you work full-time you need other alternatives like dog daycare or a playpen.
All you have to do is follow the three steps and in no time your puppy will love his crate.
Crate training an adult dog
Crate training an adult dog takes a bit more time than puppies. This is mainly because older dogs have acquired a few habits that you will have to change.
So they are a little bit more resistant to changes in their routines. This is why consistency in training helps a lot.
You have to take matters slower and don’t force your dog into the crate. At night he may spend the night sooner than you could expect; However, during the day it may be harder.
Just use the treats and the toys and keep feeding him at the same times in his crate.
Crate training a rescue dog
Rescue dogs are generally the harder to crate train; not always but depending on their previous experiences if they had any with the crate.
Some rescue dogs have trust issues so it will take you much longer to establish trust and communication. Learning as much information about your dog in the shelter could be useful.
It is ay better if you place the crate in your room to keep the dog calm. Close physical contact and outdoor activities are the best way to establish trust and to bond.
Crate training mistakes
The crate training basics we saw in this article will help you avoid the most common mistakes. Nonetheless, we can see some of these mistakes that could set you back in your crate training program.
Punishing the dog in the crate
This is one of the worse things you can do when crate training. In fact, just some common sense will allow you to understand that there is no way a dog feels safe in a place where he is punished.
The crate is not a time out space for your dog. I will extend on this and say that there is no need to punish your dog at all. If you don’t catch your dog in the act and you punish him afterword; you are just confusing him.
Even reprimanding your dog in the crate is a bad idea, even if there is potting incidents or anything your dog does.
Always reward what you like and pass on the behavior you don’t like. Your dog is intelligent enough to realize what’s wrong.
Rushing the crate training
If you rush your dog into the crate and close the door he will probably hate it. And you will have a harder job making him trust the crate and enjoy his time in it.
Some dogs may show quick progress, don’t ruin it by overdoing it. No dog will be crate trained in a weekend and believe me I have tried it you can read about it here.
Using the wrong crate
This is crate training 101, the crate is the first thing you need to make sure it’s done right. If your dog is not comfortable in his crate you will have a hard time making him like it.
Make sure you pick not only the right size but the appropriate type of crate for your dog.
Letting the dog out when whining
This is the most common mistake among new dog owners, as they let the puppy out as soon as he starts whining.
If you let him out he will know that the way to get out is by whining and will keep doing it. You always want to break his cycle of whining before letting him out.
Sometimes ignoring him is the solution, of course not for long but if you have to let him out make sure he stops before you do.
Making your dog feel great about his crate and association only good experiences with it are the crate training basics you need to know.
Everything else could be learned as you are going through the crate training if you avoid the mistakes we stated.
Know that every dog owner can crate train his dog using these tips without the need for a professional.