How to Crate Train Your Dog
Crates provide a number of benefits – they offer your dog a den, a place to go when they want to get away from the noise, or when he’s not feeling well. But it also offers a big benefit to you as well. As a pet parent, it’s in your best interest to housetrain your dog. While it is certainly possible to train your dog to do his business on pee pads indoors, it’s not the most sanitary solution and can cause a mess. Though housetraining a dog may seem like a long and complicated task, it is actually quite simple if you use crate training.
Getting Your Dog Used to the Crate
Some people believe that confining a dog to a crate is cruel. While this is certainly true if you use the crate as a form of punishment, proper use of a crate can actually be good for your dog.
Having descended from wolves, dogs like to have a space they can call their own – a den, if you will. If you condition your dog to have a positive response to his crate, he will come to think of it as his den and he will be perfectly happy spending time there. In fact, even after you finish crate training your dog, he will probably voluntarily spend time there when he wants to take a nap or when he just needs a break from family.
The trick is to get your dog used to the crate before you start crate training to prevent him from forming a negative association with it. Try throwing some treats into the crate – you can even feed your dog some of his meals in the crate with the door open to help him get used to it.
Steps for Crate Training a Dog
After you’ve gotten your dog used to spending time in the crate, the process of crate training is actually quite simple. The key is to keep your dog in the crate when you are not able to watch him yourself – this will help to reduce the risk of him having an accident in the house until he fully learns to do his business outside and outside only. Here are the steps to follow for crate training:
- Choose a particular corner or area of the yard where you want your dog to do his business.
- Take your dog outside once every hour or two and lead him to that area so he has a chance to do his business.
- If your dog does his business, praise and reward him – if he doesn’t have to go, just take him back inside and try again 30 minutes later.
- When you are at home, keep your dog in the same room with you and keep an eye on him so he doesn’t have an accident.
- When you are not at home, or otherwise unable to watch your dog, keep him in the crate – do not leave food or water because that will increase the risk for him having an accident.
- Let your dog out immediately before putting him in the crate and immediately after letting him out. You should also let him out after a nap and about 30 minutes after a meal.
- Be firm and consistent about taking your dog out often enough that there is no risk for an accident and always praise him for doing his business so he is eager to repeat it.
- As your puppy gets older, you can start to increase the amount of time he spends in the crate – just don’t force him to stay in it longer than he can control his bowels and bladder.
Every dog will respond to crate training differently. For some dogs, you may achieve success in a matter of two or three weeks, though some dogs might take months to fully get the hang of housetraining. Just be firm and patient with your pup during training and eventually you will get there.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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