Crate Training. It’s Not Just For Puppies.
Crate training is not just for puppies and has positive applications for dogs throughout their lifetime. Many people use a crate for their puppy, but want to phase it out. Dogs are den dwelling animals and when crate training is done properly they will have a positive association. When I was out at Cesar Millan’s place the crate was the one training tool that every trainer there agreed was most underutilized by owners. Sometimes people get caught up in the idea that by crating your dog you are restricting freedom or giving them a “time out.” We want the crate to be a good place and a safe place for your dog to relax.
When dogs are alone in the house they can’t turn on the tv or read a book so crate training them is a great way to keep them from “getting into trouble” while you are out. Some dogs are true couch potatoes (I had one myself) and will just lie on the couch while you are gone. However, most are not. If you video record your dog while you are gone you will see that most of them will pace, bark out the window or chew destructively; this works them into a frenzied state. When in their crate they will go to sleep, which keeps them calm.
Even if you have a dog that sleeps on the couch while you are away it is good to keep crate training part of their life for several reasons:
- Travel by car or plane
- Overnight vet stays
- Introducing a new dog to your home
- When you have guests over that do not want to interact with your dog
- High-energy dogs will actually learn to relax
- Potty training (especially for adult dogs)
- Impulse control
Whether you are crate training for the first time or are reintroducing it into your dog’s life it is very easy to do. First make sure you get the proper size, many people buy crates that are too large and can have difficulty with potty training because of that. Take the door off the crate or bungee it open and throw some high value treats in the back when your dog is not looking. Let your dog discover, and go into the crate on his own without praise or coaxing. Feeding your dog in the crate will also add a positive element. Do not only crate your pup when you leave or they will associate the crate with being left. Crate them during the day, when you are home at different times and for different lengths. In the beginning, I always work a dog before crating so that they are tired. This will help cut down on whining when they are in the crate and teach them that this is a restful place.