How To Use A Dog Crate Correctly
If you use a dog crate correctly, then it can be one of the best dog training aids that you can use. If a dog is content in his crate, then he will feel comfortable and safe. You can use the crate to transport your dog when you need to travel as well.
When you are introducing a new dog to your home, a crate can really help. You can use it for housetraining a dog, and also use it to stop them from destroying everything in your home. It can really be a place where your dog can get away from it all as well.
Dogs React Differently To Crates
You need to bear in mind that different dogs will view dog crates in different ways. There will be a few dogs that will completely panic when they are enclosed in crates. Others will not be thrilled about their crate, but will put up with them to please you. If you use the right crate training methods, then you will find that the majority of dogs will get used to their crates, and will want to retreat to them for a sleep or to just get out of the noise.
Plan on using a crate as a short term training aid, and not as a long term home for your dog. Use the crate to teach your dog how to overcome behavior issues, and not use it as a place to lock your dog up for hours every day for the rest of his life. If you keep your dog cooped up in a crate for too long, then you run the risk of over confinement. This can lead to problems down the track from lack of socialization, companionship and exercise.
Dog House Training With A Crate
It is a good idea to use a crate to confine your dog safely at night time, or at other times when you cannot check on what he is doing. Your dog will not want to soil where they sleep, so they should avoid going to the bathroom in their crate.
Be sure to choose the right size of crate for your dog. He should be able to stand up without the need to crouch, turn around in a circle and lie down comfortably. If your dog’s crate is too big, then he may determine that an area of it is far enough away to use as a toilet. He will then sleep at the opposite end of his toilet. A crate that is too small can be very uncomfortable for your dog, and they might not be able to get a good night’s sleep in it. When your dog has been house trained, there is no reason why you can’t get him a larger crate. You can also leave the door of the crate open, so that he is rewarded by freedom for being house trained.
When your dog is in the crate it will help you to know when he needs to use the toilet, and this will help you to control his toilet habits. If he has been sleeping in the crate for a few hours, then it is very likely that he will need to relieve himself. Let him out of the crate and take him outside to do this. It is a good idea to reward him for doing his business outside to encourage this behavior in the future.
Stop Destructive Behavior With A Crate
There is more to crate training for dogs than just house training. You can also use the crate to stop your dog being destructive. You need to teach your dog that destroying your home is not an option for him. This includes chewing cushions, table legs and anything else that comes to hand, stealing food and other items from tables, trash cans or counters and digging your rugs and furniture.
To communicate with your dog that this behavior is not acceptable, you must first catch him doing it. If you need to spend time away from your dog, then you can put him in the crate to make sure that he doesn’t go on a destruction mission. Crate training your dog in this way will show him that you will not put up with destructive behavior.
Crate Times For Your Dog
When your dog is sleeping his bodily functions will slow down, and he will be able to go through the night without having to use the bathroom. This is after they are old enough to have the right control over their bladder and bowels. So to be in his crate for a few hours each night is fine for your dog.
During the day you should avoid crating your dog for more than 4 hours at a time. If you have a puppy, then do not exceed two hours in the crate. When your dog is in the crate make sure that they have access to water. For guidance on daytime crate time maximums refer to this:
Dog is over 17 weeks – 4 hours
Dog is between 16-17 weeks – 3-4 hours
Dog is between 11-14 weeks – 1-3 hours
Dog is between 8-10 weeks – 30 minutes to one hour
Do not exceed these times in the crate, as this can create unwanted behavior problems and even cause your dog to get sick. If you have to go out to work for several hours a day then you still need to observe these maximum crate times.
You can employ the services of a dog walker to check on your dog and take him out to use the bathroom. Having other people take care of your dog during the day is OK, but still spend as much time with him as you can in the mornings and evenings.
If it is really necessary, then you can keep an adult dog in his crate for up to 8 hours. But do not do this on a regular basis, as this could have severe physical health and mental health ramifications. If you have to do this, then ensure that your dog has a lot of exercise before going into the crate (60 minutes of exercise is good).
These Are The Times When You Shouldn’t Use A Crate
There are a few situations where a crate should not be used. If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety then never put him in a crate. There are many signs of separation anxiety and some of these are described below.
Being left alone causes them to be very destructive, and they may turn their anger towards doors and windows or anything that has your scent on it. They might relieve themselves in your home in the first few minutes. They may bark very loudly and continuously when left on their own. If your dog is not normally destructive when you are with him, then this is a sign of separation anxiety.
Other anxieties can cause you dog to get very stressed if he is locked in his crate. Your dog could damage the crate because they are so frantic to get out of it. They may even move the crate because they are constantly struggling to escape. If there are things within his reach from inside the crate, these can be destroyed as well. Check the chest fur on your dog to see if it is wet and inside the crate too, as this can be from drooling excessively. If your dog has relieved himself in the crate and he doesn’t normally do this, it is a sign of stress.
Never crate your dog if he is too young and has not developed bladder and bowel control. If he has vomiting or diarrhea, then do not put him in the crate. Don’t put him in the crate if he has not had a lot of social contact and exercise beforehand. If it is really hot then refrain from putting him in the crate. If he hasn’t recently been to the bathroom then don’t put him in the crate.
You Can Train Your Dog To Like His Crate At The Weekends
A lot of dog trainers will tell you that a gradual introduction to a crate over 7-8 days is the best for your dog. If you have a particularly timid dog who hates being confined or a dog that just hates crates then this is recommended.
If your dog is not timid or doesn’t dislike his crate then you can use a different approach. A week’s worth of crate introduction is not necessary, and very few people will have the time to do this anyway.
Start by placing the new crate in a place where you spend time, but do not choose the kitchen. Place a soft blanket into the crate and an item of clothing that you have recently worn so that your scent is on it.
The real secret to crate training a dog is to associate things that he likes with his crate. On the Friday evening before you start weekend training, open the crate door so that your dog has total freedom. Throw a few treats into the crate when he is not looking. Your dog will discover these treats, and go into the crate to get them. Continue this throughout the evening and for the next few days.
Place your dog’s food bowl inside the crate at dinnertime. Make sure that the door is open and place the bowl right at the back of the crate so he goes all the way in. If he is hesitant to go all the way in, then put the bowl at the front to begin with and gradually move it back over the next few days. Once he is in the crate eating, close the crate door until he has finished.
On the Saturday morning take some treats and lead your dog to the crate. Sit right next to the crate and ask your dog to go in by saying “go to your crate” or similar. Throw a treat into the crate, and when he goes in praise him with enthusiasm and give another treat. Say “OK” to let him know he can leave the crate. Don’t reward here, as rewards are only given when he is inside the crate. Do this about ten times and then take a short break and repeat.
Sometime after this you can encourage your dog to go into the crate and then get a reward. Start by putting treats in the crate as before as a warm up. Then change it by saying ‘go to your crate” and pointing inside. When he finally goes in, give him one or two treats and praise. Use the “OK” command to tell him it is fine to leave the crate. Repeat 10 times; take a break and then another 10 times.
On Saturday afternoon you want to get your dog used to the crate door being closed. Warm up by getting him to go into the crate and then giving treats. Let him come out on the “OK” command, and then repeat the exercise, but this time you will close the crate door for a few seconds. Give him more treats through the door. Repeat this 10 times and then take a break. You will want to slowly increase the time that the door is closed.
In the evening on Saturday introduce alone time. You will do the same as you did before, but this time when you close the door be sure to move away from the crate for a few seconds, and then return with a treat. Gradually increase the time you are away with the door closed.
On Sunday morning you want to train your dog to stay longer in his crate. A large selection of treats and a bone will come in handy here. Get your dog to go in the crate and reward and praise as usual. Close the door and sit down in front of her and watch some TV. Do this for around 30 minutes. When the time is up say “OK” and let him out. Don’t reward when he is out of the crate. After a couple of hours repeat this exercise. If he complains when in the crate just ignore him or say “no”.
Take your dog out for a long walk and treat him to other rigorous forms of exercise before Sunday afternoon’s activities. The aim is to tire him out here to make the training easier. You are going to do the same as you did before, but instead of sitting down to watch the TV you will be moving around the house. To start with, leave the room for ten minutes and then return to let him out. Take a short break and repeat. As you repeat this, gradually lengthen the time out of the room until a full hour is achieved.
On Sunday evening you want to do the same thing, but instead of leaving the room you will leave the house. Get him to go into the crate as usual and have many treats and a bone for him. Leave the house for 10 minutes, and then return and let him out. Do not say goodbye to him and act calm. Do not make a big deal out of this, and your dog will feel more comfortable about going in and out of his crate. Repeat this many times before bedtime with breaks and walks in between. Build up the time your dog is left in the crate, and go for an hour or even two hours if you can.
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