2. Put the crate in a semi-secluded area. I usually put mine in the laundry room by my back door. The reason for this is to work with your dog’s instincts. Wolves sleep in dens and see this space as a safe, secure place to be. In introducing the crate to your dog, you are going to make the crate her “den”. In fact, my dogs all know to go in their crates by the verbal command “den time”!
3. Make sure to introduce the crate to your dog slowly. Put a treat right inside the door of the crate and let your dog get it. Work your way with several treats into the crate until the treat is at the back of the crate and your dog has to go all the way in to get it.
4. Next, put another treat in the back of the crate and when your dog goes all the way in, close the door. Give her another treat and then open the door right away. Keep doing this a few more times, but each time make the closed door period a little longer.
5. Do #3 again, but this time leave the room once the door is closed. Just like #3 keep doing this and increase the amount of time you are gone each time you do it. Always praise the dog for being good when you give the treat and then open the door.
6. If your dog is crying in the crate, do not rush to open the door or even verbally comfort her. If you respond to the whining, your dog will learn that whining=you come and let her out. Instead, wait her out and once she stops crying give her a small treat and then open the door. This way she will know that crying does not get her what she wants, but if she is good and remains quiet she gets to be by you!
7. If you have a puppy, please be mindful of the length of time she can hold her bladder. A good rule of thumb is how old a dog is in months is about how many hours she can hold her bladder. So a 3 month old puppy has to go potty about every 3 hours. You should NEVER leave a dog in a crate for more than 9-10 hours at a time. Every dog, no matter what breed or age, needs to get outside and get some food/water/exercise and attention from you!
8. Once your dog is completely trained, you can leave her loose in the house while you are gone. However, because your dog now views this space as her den it is best to keep it out for her. Many times when I come home from work, I will find my dog sleeping in his den at his own free will. It’s a safe place for him and I don’t think it right to take it away!
Remember, the crate is being introduced as (and should remain) a safe, secure environment for your dog. Always use a happy tone of voice when putting your dog in her crate and NEVER use the crate as a form of punishment.
Also a reminder about treats – a little goes a long way! These steps may seem treat intensive, but the treats you are giving out should not be bigger than your pinky finger nail (even smaller if you have a small breed).