If used appropriately, crate training can improve your living conditions and provide your dog with additional safety. For example, your pet may be a chewer, and never quite outgrow their habit of wanting to chew on things. If your dog has a particular affinity for chewing on wires or some other dangerous household item, crating them while you are away and unable to distract them, maybe the safest option for them.
For crate training to be successful, it is important that your dog likes their crate. Why? Well, a dog that panics when left in the crate can do serious damage to the crate and themselves. Therefore, today we will focus on different ways to get your dog to like, or even love, their crate.
1. Keep the Crate in a Common Area of the House and Leave the Door Open.
Giving your pet constant access to their crate can encourage them to use it as a place to lie down even when you are home. It is important not to associate the crate with being away from you. Also, by allowing them access to the crate at all times, you are giving them an opportunity to get familiar with the crate on their terms. When your dog does go in the crate, do not close the door. Simply keeping the door open will provide your dog with an added sense of confidence and security regarding the crate.
2. Provide Them With Food and Treats in the Crate to Create a Positive Association.
It is important that your pet associates their crate with good things. You don’t want them only associating their crate with you leaving, or going to the vet, and definitely not punishment. You want their crate to be a happy place. By providing them with their meals and other snacks in their crate, you will be providing them with a positive association.
Providing treats to Rooney whenever we crate him has worked particularly well for our family. Even when we are home, Rooney takes his treats in his crate to eat them.
3. Make the Crate a Comfortable Place.
Instead of having your dog lie on the cold and hard plastic bottom, add some blankets or even a bed to their crate to make it more comfortable. Not only will this make them more comfortable while being crated, but this might also encourage them to lie down in their crate even while you are home.
4. If Your Dog Is Having Negative Associations With His/Her Crate, Take the Time to Figure Out Why.
Is it because there is a ceiling fan about them that is driving them crazy?
Is it right next to where you keep the vacuum cleaner?
Try to put yourself in their perspective to better understand the situation. Sometimes making those simple adjustments can make a huge difference in your dog’s crate experience and therefore feelings toward the crate itself.
5. Choose the Right Crate.
There are so many options available when looking for the right dog crate. There are traditional wire and plastic crates, soft crates, and cute crates.
How do you know which one is right for you?
The best thing you can do is your research. Take the time to understand your available options and the needs of your dog. If you rush into your decision, you risk creating a negative experience by providing your dog with a crate that is uncomfortable, or too small, or simply not what they need. If you need help making a decision, I highly recommend talking to your veterinarian.
6. Avoid Creating a Negative Association With the Crate.
This goes hand in hand with creating a positive association with the crate. You must also be conscious to not make negative associations with the crate. Specifically, DO NOT use the crate as punishment, DO NOT leave your dog crated too long, and don’t crate your dog when it is unnecessary. If you create a negative association with your dog’s crate, it will be difficult to change that association, but don’t give up if it is the safest solution for your pet.
7. * A Personal Note. Do Not Leave a Collar on Your Dog While They Are in Their Crate.
This is, of course, a personal note. However, in my experience as a veterinary assistant, I saw a few dogs get injured, or worse because their collar was left on while they were in the crate. Although these are certainly exceptions and not necessarily the rule, I want to pass this info along from one pet parent to another.
What has been your crating experience?