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If you’re planning to bring a new canine into the family, one of your first assignments would be to housetrain your dog. One of the best ways of doing this is by crate training. Although this method requires a lot of patience, it is very effective when done correctly. Read on to discover how to crate train your dog or puppy.
How to Crate Train Your Dog or Puppy
Crate training your dog or puppy is an effective way to teach your dog the house rules. You can train him to avoid having an “accident” in any part of the house.
He will regard the crate as his safe haven – his “den”. It’s also a safe way to transport your dog; you can use the crate to transport him to places where dogs are not permitted to run freely.
Be sure to provide him with enough water when he’s confined to the crate “kennel”.
How to Choose a Crate for Your Dog
When choosing a crate for your dog, choose one with a metal or plastic frame. Some are collapsible for easy storage or transport. Others have heavy-duty fabric covers that can be removed for easy washing. While your dog is in training, you will need to position the crate in a part of the house where your dog will be aware of the presence of your family members nearby. Bear this in mind when you make your crate selection.
You will be associating your dog’s crate training with happy things like lots of praise and good treats. It’s a slow process so go step-by-step when crate training your dog.
Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
You’ve selected the crate and now it’s time to introduce your dog to his new “kennel”. Place a soft towel or blanket inside the kennel which would function as a bed. Talk to your dog in a warm tone of voice and encourage him to enter the kennel.
Drop a few of his favorite treats near the entrance, then gradually drop a few more further inside, right to the back. If he refuses to pick up the treats, try tossing in his favorite toy. If he doesn’t enter the first time, don’t force him. Keep on trying; it might take a few minutes or even a couple of days.
Once your dog has been introduced to the kennel, try placing his meals inside the crate. If he enters without a problem, keep his dish right at the back of the crate. If he’s reluctant to enter further, place his dish near the entrance for him to feed. At each subsequent meal, push the dish a little further in. If at first he seems anxious to step inside, don’t place the dish inside the crate just yet.
When he’s happy to reach inside the crate for food, close the door behind him. Once he’s finished his meal, open the door immediately. Every time thereafter, leave the door shut for a few minutes longer up to 10 minutes. If your dog starts whining, you’ve increased the timespan too soon.
Once you’ve crossed the 10-minute barrier, keep him inside for a shorter period of time. Don’t let him out, even if he whines. This will form an impression in his mind that he will not be let out every time he whines.
When your dog is comfortably settled inside his crate, call him out, holding a treat in your hand. Once he’s out, ask him to re-enter the crate. When he’s back inside, give him the treat. Close the door and sit quietly next to it for about 5 minutes. Leave the room and come back sometime later to release him.
You should gradually increase the time period over a few weeks. Devise a specific command that will make him understand that he’s supposed to enter the crate. Once he can remain quietly inside for half an hour, start keeping him there for longer periods. You can allow him to sleep there for the night.
Remember that crate training is a slow process. It may take your dog several weeks to become accustomed to the new routine.
Keeping Your Dog in a Crate While Away from Home
You can keep your dog in the crate when you need to leave the house. About 20 minutes before you leave, call him and encourage him to enter the crate. Pop in his favorite toys and give him his treats. Talk to him for a few minutes, then leave the room quietly.
When you return from your outing, he will greet you excitedly but don’t greet him as enthusiastically as he greets you. Just talk to him calmly, then let him go.
You should continue caging him even when you are at home. While you’re busy with the crate-training process, keep the crate in your bedroom at night. This will keep your dog from associating crating with being left alone. If he’s a puppy, he may want to go potty during the night; you’ll hear him whimpering if he’s kept away from you.
Crate-Training a Puppy
When you’re crate-training a puppy, don’t confine him for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time. Don’t leave him alone or unsupervised for long periods. He may irritate you with whining in the early stages, to grab your attention. Make sure he doesn’t want to go to potty. Use the words that you use when taking him out. If he becomes excited, let him go. If you’re sure it’s not a call of Nature, ignore his whining. He will eventually calm down.
If you’ve carried out the crate-training steps properly, you shouldn’t have a problem. If your dog’s whining doesn’t stop and becomes intolerable, you may have to re-do the training process from the beginning.
How to Crate-Train Your Dog or Puppy: Final Thoughts
During the crate-training period, it’s important that you do not keep your dog confined for long periods of time. Doing so may make him feel trapped. Don’t leave him in the crate when you go to work and again during the night. He should be given ample physical and emotional freedom.
Crate training is a way to discipline your dog for his functions of elimination and for keeping him comfortable in a confined space during outdoor visits. You should, therefore, allow him to move freely to satisfy his physical needs. Train your canine friend with unconditional love and patience and you’ll have a faithful, trustworthy and obedient friend for life.
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