Crate Training 101
The purpose of crate training is to aid in house breaking your dog. Dog’s naturally will not soil their den, and by placing them in a confined space you limit the chance of them going to the bathroom in the house.
Crate Training Precautions
Crate training isn’t a magical solution. You can not simply throw your dog in a crate and expect them to be house broken. When done incorrectly your dog can fear the crate or they will begin to go to the bathroom in it and that will create a much larger issue.
- Do not use the crate as punishment. You want them to enjoy being in the crate.
- Never store your dog in the crate for long periods of time. This can make them feel trapped or, if they feel there is no hope of going outside to go to the bathroom, they will go in the crate.
- Crate your puppy for no more than 3 hours at a time until they are 6 months of age. This is due to puppies having small bladders. Adult dogs have larger bladders and can control it for longer but they may not necessarily care to hold it.
- After you trust your dog to be out of the crate without supervision, the crate should become voluntary. It is a tool, not a crutch.
Choosing a Crate
There are a few things to consider when choosing a crate.
The size of crate depends on the adult size of your dog. Even if it is a puppy, get the crate they will need as an adult. However, too large of a crate and your puppy may soil it. To prevent this put in a divider that can dictate the size of the crate. Wire crates often come with a divider.
There are 3 materials: plastic, fabric, and metal. Plastic crates are also called travel crates. They provide protection from all side, and can give your dog the sense that they are in a den. Fabric crates are collapsible and light weight. They are easy to clean and store. However, they lack the durability of its counterparts. Metal crates are durable, modular and collapsible. Some metal crates are poorly made and dogs are able to chew through the wires, which can pose a threat to their safety.
Everyone has a budget. With this in mind it is important to consider what is necessary and what is nice. Some metal crates come with two doors but it comes with a higher price. It is convenient but not necessary. A single door wire crate for a large dog off amazon can cost $55, while a plastic crate for the same sized dog cost $66, and a fabric one costs $75. Determine what your needs are and how much you can spend.
If you can not afford this, you may be able rent a crate from your local animal shelter.
Crate Training Steps
Step 1: Establish a positive association with the crate
- Introduce the dog to the crate slowly.
- Give them treats while they are around it, but do not force them inside.
- Toss treats into the crate and let them get the treat on their own.
Step 2: Feed your dog in the crate
- Start placing the food dish inside the crate.
- If your dog willfully enters the crate prior to step 2, place the food all the way in the back of the crate.
- When they start showing comfort in the crate, start closing the door.
- Keep the door closed for a little after they finish eating. If they start whining, shorten the length of time and build it up.
Step 3: Extend the length of time.
- It is better to do frequent shorter periods of time in the crate than fewer longer periods. Slowly build up the length of time.
- Start with 5 mins in the crate.
- If they start whining, take a step back and shorten the period of time.
Step 4: Crate while you are away
- If your dog can last 30 minutes in the crate, crate them while you leave.
- Do not make your leaving into an ordeal. They go in the crate, and you leave.
- Vary when they go in the crate while you get ready.
- Leave them a toy or a Kong to make them feel safe or keep them occupied.
Step 5: Crate at night
- Crate your dog while you sleep.
- Do not give them food or water 2 hours before bed and take them out to go to the bathroom before bed.
- If your dog whines at night, they could be trying to go outside to eliminate or testing you. If they are trying to test you, they will be quiet soon, but if they need to go out they will continue.
- Do not yell at them or punish them for whining.
If you follow these steps, your dog should be on the way to being housebroken.