Crate training is a process with a series of steps followed by a dog trainer or dog owner to make a dog consider the crate as his den, so how does this crate training process work.
Crate training is not a very complicated process, it does not require deep dog training knowledge. Basically, any new dog owner can crate train his new puppy or even an older dog.
The main idea behind crate training a dog is to make the crate a safe and intimate place for the dog.
So to successfully crate train your dog all you have to do is to make your dog like being in his crate. This is a step by step process in which you will use treats toys and behavior management.
There are no special tools required other than a crate treats and a toy your dog likes.
How to start crate training
All you need to start crate training your dog is to prepare a perfect size crate for your dog. You need to read this article about how to measure your dog for a crate.
The perfect size crate will make your dog comfortable in the crate. and eliminate any complaints your dog may have towards his new home.
You also need to prepare dog training treats. these will help you reward the dog when he makes progress and it will be your lure to get him in the crate.
Crate training can be hard if you don’t use treats, and the dog will be less motivated to be in the crate if there is nothing good happening to him in there.
You will also need a toy to make crate training easier, the kong will work just fine since it keeps the dog interested for a long time.
Once you’ve prepared all these tools you can go ahead and introduce your dog to his crate. we need him to get to used gradually to being around and inside the crate.
You have to keep the crate’s door open while crate training for the first day or else it won’t work.
You can feed your dog his meals inside and let him have a play session in the crate by securing a toy inside.
Now that you know how to start let us see how does crate training work step by step.
How does crate training work
The first step is to have the dog meet his crate, simply put the leash on your dog and bring him around the crate and let him check it out.
You can do that once or twice not for long so the dog is not suspicious. Also, secure the crate’s door not to scare the dog if he does inside and the door shots by accident.
You want to win your dog’s trust being around the crate. Once that done you can love to the next step.
Now, you want to remove the leash and lure your dog into the crate by offering some treats.
Once inside the crate reward with more treats and verbal praise. And do not reward your dog unless he gets inside. You can use a vocal command to establish communication.
Keep luring the dog to the crate and rewarding until he gets it and offers to get in to have a treat. When he does that you want to use a toy to let him stay longer in there. When he takes the toy and goes out of the crate take it back and put it in the crate again.
Do not force the dog into the crate and do not close the door just keep doing these few steps. When it’s the dog’s feeding time serve his meal inside the crate and gently close the door while he is feeding.
When he is done open the door directly and lure him back in with a treat and a toy.
If you do this enough times your dog will be comfortable in the crate. Now increase the time he spends in the crate with the door closed after the meal.
You can keep the dog busy with a toy and praise and reward him with treats.
At night your dog will be tired and probably won’t show much resistance if steps 1 and 2 went smoothly. Just have the dog exercise plenty before going in the crate and reduce his energy.
A crate is a place for sleeping at night and to relax during the day. The dog can’t be locked in the crate while still energetic and willing to play.
You can now increase the time your dog spends in the crate and when he reaches a 30 minutes period. You can start moving around the room while he is in the crate.
Gradually start leaving the room for short periods of time until your dog is used to being alone in the crate.
Once you reach this phase you have successfully crate trained your dog and you can leave the house while he is in the crate.
Dogs can’t stay too long in the crate, the younger the puppy the less time he can stay in.
Crate training while at work
You can only crate train dogs when you leave for work if they reach a certain age. Young puppies can’t handle being in the crate for too long.
If you have a young puppy and you need to work full time you need to make arrangements. You can read this article for suggestions about crate training while working full-time.
Adult dogs will be able to handle crate training for long hours. However, you need to take the dog exercise and eliminate before and after work.
You may also use a playpen for crate training a puppy that is too young to stay in the crate while at work.
I would strongly suggest dog daycare for working dog owners it is a much better solution.
Being able to leave the dog in the crate while at work will take quite some time. You can’t just do that in the first week but increase the time gradually.
Crate training at night
Crate training is easier at night you just need to work with your dog on his daily routine. Meaning you need to have a schedule to follow with timing for sleep feeding and playtime.
A dog that has had enough exercise and playtime during the day will be ready to sleep.
Make sure your dog goes out to eliminate just before bedtime; You also want to stop watering your dog about two hours before bedtime. This will reduce the need for potting breaks during the night.
You might want to consider installing the crate in your room at least in the first few weeks. This way you can hear the puppy if he needs a potty break or can intervene when he’s whining.
All in all crate training during the night is less challenging if you do everything properly.
When to stop crate training
Crate training is not something you stop, it is a routine and a way of life for your dog. If you take the decision to crate train your dog then you don’t need to stop.
Changing a dog’s routine can be hard on him, as he feels safe and intimate in his crate. And we don’t want to change that.
When your dog is used to beeing in the crate at night and relaxing in it during the day he will do it on his own. Most crate trained dogs just choose to be in the crate even with the door open.
The goal of crate training is to provide a safe environment for your dog. Once that achieved there is no added value in taking it back.
I personally still use the crate for my older dogs, it’s most of the time open during the day for them to choose to be in.
You may want to check out this study by brown university confirming that crate training is actually good for a dog.