Crate Training 101
Bringing an adorable puppy home for the first time is a very exciting life event. During the first few days, you’ll probably want to spend every second playing with your pooch. Eventually, however, this honeymoon phase ends. Although you’ll still love your pup, the initial novelty wears off. You’ll have to leave them home alone, as you get on with your daily life. Unless they are properly trained, this can pose problems. Unsupervised dogs tend to run amuck, destroying shoes, couches and other household items in their tracks. For these unruly pups, you might need to do some crate training.
After spending weeks in quarantine with your pet, they will be used to being by your side 24/7. This could potentially mean that even trained pups will struggle to adapt to their regular routine once lockdown laws are lifted. This may be another job for the crate.
Before becoming domesticated, dogs seek out dens in the wild for safety and shelter. Here, they can sleep, hide from predators and raise their puppies. While your dog crate is essentially a similar safe haven, your pooch probably won’t see it that way. The confined space can be very frightening for some. Therefore, it’s important that their crate is as comfortable as possible.
Whether your pooch needs a behaviour check or simply needs help readjusting to post lockdown life, these crate training steps might be the solution.
Place your crate in a quiet corner of your home, and let it sit there with open doors. Allow your pup to explore it freely. Let him familiarise himself with it without forcing anything. If your dog seems suspicious, use some encouragement tactics. Sit beside the crate and cheerily call your dog over with a smile. Reward him with treats as he approaches.
Make the crate cosy and comfortable with a soft blanket or pillow. Introduce some fun by placing your pet’s favourite toys inside. This will make the crate less scary and hopefully reduce anxiety.
Leave the crate doors open and place your dog’s meal inside. You can start slowly by placing the meal at the front of the crate, gradually working its way closer until your dog is happy to eat his food inside.
You know a dog is crate trained when they are comfortable napping in there. Build this habit by placing your dog inside the crate when you notice he is sleepy.
While your dog may be happy to sit in the crate, the real test is how they react once the door is shut. Try closing the hatch while your dog is eating, and reopening it once he is finished. Gradually increase the time you wait before reopening the door. Listen to your dog. If he is anxious, let him out sooner or he will associate the crate with fear and panic. Your dog must trust that he will be let out eventually. On this note, remember never to use the crate as punishment for bad behaviour.
Yay! You and your dog have made it to the advanced training stage. Test your dog by ushering him inside the crate and shut the door. Hang nearby for a few minutes and then leave the room. Return to the room calmly, and avoid reacting to excitement and whining. Wait a while before opening the crate. Continue this process, leaving them inside for longer each time.
Try letting your pup sleep in the crate overnight and see how he manages. Overnight crate training can be very challenging. Firstly, puppies do not have very good bladder control. Therefore, you must not leave young dogs in crates for more than four hours. Your pooch may also experience separation anxiety, which in severe cases can require professional intervention.
Now that your dog is comfortable in the crate, you can start leaving the home while they are locked inside. Start with short intervals and work your way up. Don’t make a fuss or give any special goodbyes – just leave. Return calmly to help normalise this routine. Keep your praise to a minimum.
How long will this crate training take?
Just like babies, every puppy is different. Some are braver and more adaptable, while others are more anxious and sceptical. Listen to yours, and go at your own pace. This training will likely take time and patience, so don’t rush it.
What size crate should I use?
If in doubt, buy bigger. It’s always better for your dog to have extra wiggle room. Here’s some brief guidelines to help you make the best choice.
- Extra-Small (18-22in) For toy dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese
- Small (24 in) For small or miniature breeds like Shih Tzus and Pugs
- Medium (30 in) For medium-sized dogs like Scottish Terriers and Dachshunds
- Intermediate (36in) For intermediate dogs like Beagles and Bull Terriers
- Large (42in) For large breeds like Boxers and Retrievers
- Extra-Large (48+in) For extra-large breeds like Akitas, Huskies, and Malamutes.
By following the crate training steps above, your dog should, in time, master crate petiquette. The aim is to create a safe, calm and fun environment for them. One of the best ways to do this is to keep them occupied with toys and chews. Don’t let them get bored in their crate while home alone – purchase a swaggy box at Golden Swag today.