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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > New Pet Know How Dog Crate Training

New Pet Know How: Dog Crate Training


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In addition to proper health and hygiene, the social development of your dog is critical to its well-being as a productive member of your family. Like schooling for children, pet training provides dogs with discipline, boundaries and knowledge of what is expected of him/her. PetSmart's Accredited Pet Trainers can help you and your dog - using positive reinforcement and a curriculum developed by the world's leading animal behaviorists and pet trainers.

Beyond professional pet training classes, crate training is essential for puppies that are not housebroken. In addition to the thorough information available in the Puppy Head Start class, and our Crate Training DVD/VHS, here are some tips to get you started at home:

Crate training for dogs - eight steps to a great crate experience!
Size, material and design are all important factors in determining the proper crate for training your dog. If you are considering crate training, it's a good idea to first discuss your pet's needs with a PetSmart Pet Trainer. That way you can be sure that you and your pet have the best possible experience while crate training. You can also refer to PetSmart's Crate Buying Guide to help determine which option is right for you.

1) Encourage your dog to get in there and sniff around
With the crate door open, toss toys or treats inside to get your dog to enter. Keep doing this until he will enter and exit the crate without reluctance. This process could take minutes, hours or days. Be patient and your dog will get the hang of it.

2) Have an open door policy
Once your dog is willingly going into the crate, close the door for a few seconds or up to a minute at most while you remain close to the crate. Just be sure NOT to push the confinement period to see how long your dog will tolerate it.

3) See, it's no big deal
When you let your dog out of the crate, calmly ignore him. If you teach him that being released from confinement is a big deal by giving him attention when he's let out, it might backfire and result in your dog thinking that the crate is a place that he doesn't want to go.

After doing this exercise, wait a few minutes and repeat it. Slowly increase the amount of time your dog is in the shut crate. Practice until your dog is comfortable being in the shut crate for five minutes or so, with you remaining next to him.

4) Whoever trains with the most toys wins
After step three, start giving your dog a special toy every time you put him into the crate. Give him this toy ONLY when he is in the crate. You may also serve him his meals in the crate for a time so he starts associating good things with the crate. Remember to stay right next to him while he is in the crate and be sure to let him out after he has finished his meal.

5) Right around the corner
Begin leaving your dog in the crate while you do other things around the house. Leave the room for a few minutes and then return so he knows you're still in the house, and then walk away again. Once more, DO NOT try to stretch out your absences to see whether your dog can tolerate it. Then release your dog from the crate after about five minutes and make sure you don't make a big deal about letting him out of his crate.

Practice this again later and begin varying the duration of the confinement periods so that some periods are very short and others are gradually longer. It might be a good idea to try crating your dog during the family dinner, which is a time when you don't want him pestering you. By practicing off and on, you may accomplish this step in one day. But depending on how confident your dog is in the crate it could take longer. Don't rush it.

6) When it's bedtime
When your dog is comfortable being in his crate for 30 minutes or so, he can start sleeping in the crate at night. If you have a puppy it is crucial that he sleeps in your bedroom so that he can be let out to relieve himself. If you have an adult dog you should also crate him close to the family so he doesn't perceive crating as social isolation. You'll also be able to observe your dog and release him if he becomes increasingly upset.

7) Time makes the dog grow fonder
When your dog has been sleeping comfortably in the crate at night near a family member, he can be left alone for short periods of time during the day. The first time should be no longer than 30 minutes. You might try leaving a tape recorder on nearby to hear whether your dog is becoming agitated while you are away. If he seems overly fearful or anxious you may want to go back a step or two and try crating for a shorter period of time. Remember, the goal is for your dog to be calm in the crate.

8) Graduation
When you are consistently crating your dog while you are away, continue to put him in the crate for a few minutes each day when you are home as well. That way he won't perceive crating as a sign that you are leaving. Lastly, always remember to reward your dog by giving him his special toy each time he's crated.

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