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Crate Training Your Dog

Choosing a Crate

Crates come in different styles. The most common types are the pressed fiberglass models and the open-wire cages. Both are available in pet supply stores. Fiberglass crates are the most sturdy. Many of the wire cages fold into the shape of a suitcase for easy transport. Make sure your crate is large enough to be comfortable for your dog at all stages of her life. She should be able to fully stand up, lie down, and chew on a toy without being cramped.

Familiarize your Dog with the Crate

Whatever the age of your dog, it's important to introduce her to the crate gradually:
  • Put the crate in an area of your home where you and others are around. You may want to keep it in the kitchen during the day and in your bedroom at night. To make your dog's first experience with the crate as pleasant as possible, put a soft blanket or towel (preferably one that smells like you) on the floor of the crate. Then throw a toy and some food treats inside. DO NOT use force to make your dog go into the crate. Instead let her explore and find the goodies. When she enters the cage, praise her, and let her come and go as she pleases. Play this game for several minutes. If your dog takes to this game, close the door for a few seconds after she goes in. Increase the amount of time the door is closed, but stays close to the crate while you offer praise and treats.

  • Now that you've familiarized her with the crate concept, gradually get her used to being in the cage for longer periods of time. Start feeding your dog her meals in the crate with the door closed. Leave the room while your dog is eating and later when she is just resting. When your dog shows no opposition (that could take several days), leave the house: First, go out for only 5 minutes, then gradually increase your time away to 30 minutes. If your dog can stay in the crate for half an hour without getting agitated, she should be comfortable for hours.

  • Don't over do it! Try to use the crate for short times, both when you're home and when you're out. You should not confine your dog for more than 4 hours at a time, and no longer than a total of 10 hours in any given day.

Always give your dog a special treat and praise when you crate it.
Remember, crated dogs need a lot of exercise and playtime