by Niki Elliot
Crate training is one of the most efficient and effective ways to train a dog. Crating is based on the idea that dogs are den animals. However, while a useful tool, crating can be over-used and abused. Crate training can be accomplished in several days, or may take weeks, depending on the age and temperament of your puppy. There are two important things to be remembered when training your puppy to the crate.
1. The crate should always be associated with good things.
2. Training should always take place in small steps, do not rush too much too fast.
Introducing your puppy to the Crate.
Put the crate in an area of your house where you spend a lot of time. Put a soft blanket or fleece in the crate and bring your puppy over to the crate and talk to her in a happy and excited tone. Make sure that the crate door is securely fastened OPEN so it won’t hit accidentally hit puppy and frighten her. Drop some titbits of food around the crate, just inside the door and then gradually all the way inside to encourage her to enter the crate. If she doesn’t go right inside the crate at first DO NOT FORCE HER. Repeat this exercise until she will walk right into the crate on her own to get the food. If your puppy is not food motivated try tossing a favourite toy in the crate instead.
Feeding Your Puppy in the Crate
After your puppy has been introduced to the crate you can begin to feed puppy her meals near the crate at first, then in the door way and then right inside. It is important to create pleasant associations with the crate. Once puppy is happily eating her food inside the crate you can close the door whilst she is eating and open it immediately she finishes her food. Each time you feed puppy in the crate from here on, you can leave the door closed for a bit longer. If puppy begins to whine you may have increased the duration too quickly. Next time shorten the time before opening the door. BE SURE TO RELEASE HER FROM THE CRATE WHEN SHE IS QUIET. IF VOCALIZING RESULTS IN RELEASE, THE BEAHVIOUR WILL BE REINFORCED AND A PROBLEM WILL DEVELOP.
Conditioning your Puppy to the Crate .
Once your puppy is comfortable to eat her meals in the crate you can start to confine her for short periods of time whilst you are at home. You can give her a command “Kennel Up”, and click and reward her for going into the crate and close the door. Sit quietly next to the crate for a few minutes and then go out of sight into another room for a few minutes. Come back and sit quietly next to the crate for a few minutes, click and reward before opening the door and letting puppy out. You can now, slowly, begin to lengthen the time that you are out of the room. You can even leave her to sleep in the crate at night. If you do leave her to sleep in the crate, make sure she is near enough to you so you can hear if she needs to make a pee during the night. It may take some time to get to this point.
If your puppy whines while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether she is just whining to be let out or she needs to pee. Up to now your puppy should not have been reinforced for whining so you may just ignore the noise for a short while. If the whining continues after this, use the phrase your puppy associates with going outside to pee. If she becomes excited and responds, she most likely does need to pee. If however you are convinced that she does not need to go, then ignore the whining completely. During this process expect the whining to get worse before it gets better.
A PUPPY SHOULD NEVER BE CRATED AS A PUNISHMENT FOR MISBEHAVIOUR!!!!!
The single most important aspect of dog and puppy training is that you reward and praise your dog or puppy each and every time she does the right thing. For example: praise her when she chews her own toys instead of the couch or eliminates outside instead of in the house. The more time you spend with your puppy or dog, the quicker and easier it will be to train her.
Niki gives Puppy socialization Classes and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org