Tags: Pets

Crate Craft

Dog Crates are one of the most useful tools for the suburban dog owner. There are many times in a dog’s life when they may need to be confined so it just makes sense to condition them to this experience.

We have had a number of people asking us about crate training, so here are a few guidelines to help you get started on the right foot.

Start Young.
The number one reason people start using crates is because they provide a great way to house train your puppy. This is a good thing, because starting young is the best way to success.

It’s a Good Thing.
Whilst you as a human may have negative thoughts about staying in a small space, dogs think differently. Crates actually use the dog’s natural instinct as a den animal. To them it is an ideal space to snooze and take refuge. It is a safe place.
For this reason, it is important that you don’t view this as a “cage”, but instead as a safe, cosy den for your loved dog.
Once your dog is trained and is using the crate to sleep in, you will find they will go into the crate to snooze completely voluntarily if you leave the door open.
Make it a clean, comfortable place to curl up in and during colder months, covering it with a blanket will help make it even more snug.

Brief Outline of the Steps.
To get it right, keep two important things in mind. Crating should always be associated with something pleasant. And don’t go too fast, progress only as fast as your dog through the steps.

Step 1: The introduction. Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, preferably quiet time. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at his leisure, toss in a treat whenever your dog ventures into the crate. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away.  If yours isn't one of them you will need to use treats as encouragement.
Step 2: After step one is solid start feeding your dog inside the crate. If they are proving confident, place the food right at the back of the crate. For the more suspicious types, you may need to start outside and gradually move it in and towards the back. This is when you can start closing the door.
The first time you shut the door, make sure you are there to open the door as soon as your dog as finished eating. Then gradually lengthen the time to 10 min or so after finishing before opening the door. If they start to whine…you have increased too quickly and need to shorten! If he does whine or cry in the crate, don’t let him out until he stops. Otherwise, they learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, and keep doing it. Stick it out and be ready to open the door as soon as there is a break in the whining.
Step 3: After you are easily doing step two without any whining, you are ready to start confining your dog to the crate for periods of time while you are home. Use a command “in your house” and reward with a treat. Start this whilst being in view, progress to short periods of time out of view and gradually increase the out of view time to about 30mins.
Step 4: After step three is solid, you can start leaving the house. The same principles apply, make the time increases very gradual. Make sure when you move to this stage that you don’t change your demeanor! Treat it just the same as if you were staying in the house and don’t just put them in the crate and walk out. Pop them in the crate and stay for a few minutes before calmly and quietly leaving.
Most importantly for this stage is what you do when you come home. Do not rush straight to the crate, enter the house calmly, ignore the dog initially, then slowly move to open the door and continue to ignore the dog especially if it is showing signs of excitement. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so he doesn't associate crating with being left alone.

Crating over-night: This is a part of step four but depends on the age of the pet. For puppies you need to keep the crate close enough so you can hear if it needs to go to the toilet. Whining to go to the toilet is good, but just make sure the opportunity to go to the toilet is all that is on offer. No play time and straight back to bed without fuss.
Older dogs, too, should initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation.
Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer.

DogHQ, 5 Goldfield, Wairau Valley. Ph: 09 442 2365 

Issuu 58 September 2015