Bringing home a new dog or puppy is exciting! We get love and kisses! And to find out where they want to pee, and which shoes taste the best.

Jawa Harry the Rebel - a retired racing greyhound that loves his crate and sleeps in it while it's open.
Jawa Harry the Rebel – a retired greyhound who loves his crate and sleeps in it while it’s open

It’s not all rays of sunshine integrating a new dog into the household. However, we can make it easier (and fun!) by following a few simple rules.

Crate training is a simple and effective way to teach your dog they have a haven within your home. This is a place they can go that is theirs and theirs alone. Above all, a dog’s crate should represent a place of peace, quiet, and security.

Not all puppies or dogs will like their crate or find it fun in the beginning. Most will fight you on it if you don’t give them positive and fun motivation to be in there. After all, this means they’re not with you – and not being with you sucks. We try to keep it positive, fun and only crate our dogs at night while we’re asleep, though some people may need to crate for different reasons like safety.

Tips on How to Crate Train Your Dog

  • Feed them in their crate. Feeding them in their crate lets them know that not only is this a quiet spot where they can eat undisturbed, it’s also associated with food, which is a positive motivator
  • Give them toys that will entertain them in their crate. Such as kongs with frozen peanut butter or brain toys with kibble that they have to roll about to get the food. These will keep them busy in the crate, so they won’t even notice that you’ve walked away and are no longer there. Use these only when they go in the crate as a fun treat
  • Do not give in to them crying. I know…it’s hard. But if you give in and let them out of the crate, a light bulb in that dog brain will come on and say, “Cool! I’ve trained the human!” Letting a dog out of the crate when they cry gives them the reward they want the most. You! Make sure, of course, they don’t need to go potty (especially for younger dogs). Giving the dog some outside potty time before placing them in the crate will help you determine if it’s just them wanting out, or something more urgent
Have fun crate training your dog.
Have fun crate training your dog
Photo by alexandra lammerink on Unsplash
  • Leave the crate door open during the day so they can come and go as they please. Don’t shut the door every time they go inside – let them explore for fun on their own time when you’re home and can supervise
  • Toss treats into the crate and use a cue word or phrase. Our fun cue phrase for my dogs is “Time for bed!”
  • If your dog isn’t treat focused (and isn’t easily overstimulated by praise), praise them like the sun will never shine again and make it fun!
  • Respect their space in the crate. You wouldn’t like someone to intrude on your resting time. Give them that courtesy, so they continue to see their crate as a secure fun space that’s only for them
  • Build up their confidence inside the crate by leaving them alone for about 5 minutes, then returning with low-key, calm praise and/or treats. When they are okay with this in their crate, stretch it out to ten minutes, twenty minutes, etc. This is to teach them they can be alone, and you will be back
  • Watch out for any routine behaviors before leaving, such as picking up your keys, wallet, or purse. These cues may cause them to become distressed and associate being in the crate with your absence. This is where distraction by using a toy and slowly increasing their time alone in the crate can help make it an enjoyable experience
Have fun crate training your dog.
Crate training your dog shouldn’t be a miserable experience!
Photo by Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

Lastly, remember to make it fun! If it’s not fun to be in the crate, who can honestly blame them for not wanting to be there?

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