Crate training

To me, one of the most important things you can teach your dog (or cat) is to enjoy being crated or confined.

Done correctly, the crate will be a safe haven for the pet. This has benefits for safety, travel, and emergency situations. It also teaches a dog to cope with being alone and confined, both realities of everyday life.

Start young: a crate can be a great place for bed, and can be used as a tool to facilitate toilet training.

Build up time spent: as part of toilet training, plus building up the time spent helps your pet cope with the confinement better. If the goal is to have your dog sleep all night in a crate, start with 2-hour allotments and build from there. Alternate between open crate door, closed crate door, and closed and latched crate door.

Always a good place: I don’t recommend using a crate as punishment. If already trained as a safe place, it can be used to ‘time out’ an over-excited dog, but we’re not talking about confining for extended periods as a way to prevent normal behaviour. The crate should be comfortable with bedding, and large enough for the dog to at least stand up, turn around and lay down in comfortably (possibly including a water bowl, food bowl, and for cats a litter tray if needed). There should be something to do, like a toy or bone. Kids should never be allowed to follow into the crate or torment your pet while confined. It is a safe haven.

Put a command to it: combined with place training, a simple word like ‘bed’ can be used to get the pet to get in the crate on cue. This can be so handy, in the case of unannounced visitors, setting routine, and again, in an emergency situation.

Introducing new pets: when bringing home a new puppy or kitty, using a crate can be helpful to keep them safe while the existing pets get used to them. Alternating which pet is confined so the newbies can explore safely, is also handy.

Honestly, once you’ve mastered it, you’ll want all your pets doing it. Watch them retire to their own bed, give themselves ‘timeout’ and sleep through the night, comfortable and safe.

Call me, I can help.

2 Responses to “Crate training

  • elizabeth dundler
    6 months ago

    Hello Marcia

    Liz from AWL NSW, do you think it is possible to crate train a 9-year-old dog. This dog has been in the same environment for all of its life with someone always at home. Now his owner has moved out and the dog is being left totally alone and doing quite a bit of damage trying to follow his master, He has also started urinating in the house as he always had access to outdoors.

    • Marcia Davey
      5 months ago

      Hi Liz, crate training at any age is possible, for sure. Even if not using an actual crate, things like puppy pens to confine older animals can be helpful to know they are contained and safe.
      It is also possible there is something else, like Separation Related Behaviours, going on with your example.
      Dogs think in pictures & patterns, and when the picture changes it can be stressful for the dog, especially if it is used to company all the time.

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