CRATES & CRATE TRAINING

When used correctly, crates can keep your dog and house safe when you are not able to supervise, help with potty training puppies, and can be used as a safe means of transport.

TYPES:

Wire:
   - dog can see out of and feels part of household activities
   - is available in fold-up suitcase styles to help with portability
   - has a removable tray for ease of cleaning

Plastic / Enclosed:
   - more "cave-like" - harder to see out of and feel a part of the household
   - best for shipping/traveling - these are what I have in my vehicles for my dogs
   - contains hair, drool, pees/poos, vomit, dirt, water, mud
   - harder for clever dogs to escape from

Mesh
   - not usually used for home crating, because it can be easily destroyed
   - dog MUST be comfortable in a crate
   - easily destroyed if dog has a tendency towards destruction
   - very lightweight (popular for dog show people)

CHOOSING A SIZE OF CRATE FOR YOUR DOG:
   Puppies should have just enough room to turn around and lie down - if the crate is too roomy, the puppy may 
   eliminate at one end and live at the other.
   Because most budgets can't afford to get a crate every time the pup grows larger, you should get an
   appropriate size for an adult and make it smaller with a divider (some crate manufactures make one, or you
   can use a piece of plywood, etc cut to size & wired in) - making sure your modifications are completely safe
   for the pup.  Adult dogs should at least have enough room to stand up straight and somewhat stretch out
   when they lay down.

***REMEMBER*** 
To make sure your dog is completely safe in his crate, not collars, leashes, harnesses, or other attachments should be worn in the crate!

TEACHING A DOG TO ACCEPT A CRATE

It is easiest and best to start crating as a puppy, but most older dogs will adapt just fine.

Teaching to go into the crate:

* Use a word of phrase to signify you want dog to go into the crate: "kennel-up", "go to your house", "place",
  "crate", "go to bed", "go to your room", "go to jail" (remember, is is just a word!)
* Use a small soft-moist treat in one hand, with your other hand holding the dog's collar
* Get the dog very interested in the treat held in your hand, and move with it right at the end of his nose. 
* The hand that is on the collar is gently guiding him toward the crate opening and keeping him on track. 
* Lightly toss the treat out ahead while the dog follows the treat into the crate.
* Close the door while you are praising: "good kennel-up!"

Use the crate ONLY positively!
- negative use (used as punishment or "banishment") will cause dog NOT to like the crate at all
- that does not mean you cannot grit your teeth when you are exasperated with your pup and cheerfully say:
  "You know what?  You need some kennel time and I need a break from you!"

IMPORTANT TIPS FOR USING A CRATE

  • Either ignore or correct crying or whining - it depends on the dog.  I do not let crying go on for much time at all, and I will correct it with a sharp (NOT mean or nasty, just firm) "QUIET", with a rap on top of the crate.  Sometimes, however, some pups learn that in order to get attention from you, they will whine and cry - remember that negative attention is better than no attention at all!

  • With puppies - just put them inside using your kennel-up word every time (coinciding with naptime works well).  Give the pup things to do.  Each of my dogs has a couple Nylabones - durable chews - to chew on, and sometimes they get a stuffed Kong.

  • You may not want to put a towel into the crate...yet.  Puppies will often destroy a towel or bed, and the towel will soak up pee.  It makes it easier for a pup to pee in a crate when there is something to soak it up.  As a pup becomes more reliable, I add an old towel, because I ultimately want my dog to have a nice bed to sleep on.  Adding an old towel means I don't have to care much if it ends up being destroyed (which it will be).

  • NEVER let your dog out of his crate when he is crying or whining, unless you are certain he must go outside...now!

  • Give your dog a "project" in his crate; something he will ONLY get when he is crated.  Examples: stuffed Kong, stuffed sterile bone, (can be stuffed with peanut butter or "squeezy" cheese - the kind that comes in a can and is used to decorate crackers, plug one end with a glop of cheese and fill with chicken bouillon and freeze - great for teething pups).  Other stuffing ideas can be found on the Kong website: www.kongcompany.com .

  • Puppies should only be left in a crate for one hour for every month he is in age before he has to eliminate.

  • Adult dogs should be left for only a normal/typical workday once they are used to being in the crate and are potty trained.  Ideally, having a friend, relative or dog sitter come in the middle of the day to take the dog out is the best scenario, but sometimes that isn't possible.

  • Puppies and dogs should be in the crate both when you are at home as well as when you are not home.  Putting a dog in the crate only when you leave will quickly make the crate become a symbol for being alone, and can foster separation anxiety as time goes on.  That doesn't mean the dog must be in the crate always when you are home, but for designated time periods (like, perhaps when you are eating, or when you are cleaning).

  • Water in the crate: you be the judge.  I recommend water in the crate only after the dog has been potty trained and is reliable with elimination.  Until then, access to water is strictly monitored by you.  If you do choose to put water in the crate, a small metal bucket with a 2-way clip will keep the water off the floor of the crate and reduce dumping of water.

  • Feeding in the crate: for pups, that is the best way to keep them thinking about dinner instead of everything else!

  • Crate should be kept where the dog can still experience household activity.  Keeping the crate in the basement or garage isolates the dog.  Many a person has put plywood on top of a crate and made it into an end-table!

  • Most dogs will go into their crate on their own to sleep if you leave the door open!

  • You can cover the crate if external activity stimulates the pup too much when he should be sleeping, or if you want the pup to settle down.  Covering reduces stimulation.

  • Nighttime I prefer the crate in the bedroom, but sometimes that is not possible (small room, not able to move it to and from room).  If the crate is in the bedroom, outside needs can be quickly addressed.  Barking, whining, or fussint can also be quickly addressed if the dog is crated in your bedroom at night.

  • Dogs can be worked out of the crate, if you desire, but I don't suggest doing that until pup is at least 1 1/2 to 2yrs old, when they are much more mature and lest impulsive.  Working a dog out of the crate is another topic...

Pam Young, LVT CDBC CPDT  
Dog Gone Good LLC
Dog Behavior Consultant
Personal Dog Trainer