4 Ways to Make Crate Training a Positive Experience

Crate training is one of the best experiences you can give your puppy or dog. Crates are a safe space for your dogs to stay in while you’re away or busy. The earlier you crate-train your pup, the better. It’s easiest to do this when they’re puppies, but crate training is possible for older dogs too. You can make the experience positive by using these strategies.

Benefits of Crate Training

Crate training provides countless benefits for your pup. Here are just a few:

  • Crates keep dogs safe while you’re away.
  • Crates become your dog’s comfort space. 
  • Crates prepare your dog for travel and overnight stays.
  • Crates are essential for potty training puppies!

Positive Steps for Crate Training

Start with crate size.

Crate size is critical when training. A crate that is too small will make a dog feel trapped or unsafe, while a crate that is too big allows enough room for them to go to the bathroom on one side. 

Use treats and toys.

The hardest part of crate training is often getting the dog into the crate. First, make the crate the place where you feed the dog. Not where you lock him up with food but just place the bowl in the crate at meal time with door open. Allow him to come out when he is done on his own. We are making positive associations in the crate, we want the dog to want the crate. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by putting a favorite treat or toy into the cage without closing the door. Then, use a specific command before your dog enters the crate, like “crate” or “bed.” after you have established the crate as a positive rewarding place and you see your dog going to the crate on their own, it is time to start building time in the crate with the door closed. Once they enter, shut the crate and give them a treat letting them out as soon as they are done eating it. Gradually give them things that will keep them busy in the crate for a long period to build duration.  

Give praise.

Praise your pup through the entire process! Speak to them in an encouraging voice when giving the command, then tell them what a good dog they are once they follow it. 

Practice for longer periods!

It’s generally agreed that dogs can remain in their crates for 4-6 hours. However, the first time your pup uses the crate shouldn’t be for this long! So instead, slowly work up how long they stay in their crate. The first week, have them stay in the crate for a few minutes working up to fifteen minutes to half an hour. Stay near the crate so your dog knows you’re nearby. The pup may cry or whine at first, but they’ll gradually become comfortable with their crate. Do not respond to crying or fusing in the crate. Let them out only when they are quiet. Once they are comfortable being left in the crate, leave them in their crate for one or two hours and leave the space. Try not to have too much excitement or activity going on in view of or within earshot of the dog while they are in the crate training process.

Other Considerations for Crate Training

Crate training is one of the first steps to training your dog. A dog that is comfortable in its crate is typically calmer and more well-behaved outside of it, too. While you crate-train your pup, train them to do other basic commands. Sit, stay, wait and down are great commands to begin with. The Landheim team is here to help if your dog needs extra training support. We offer basic and advanced training, customizable to your pet’s needs.