Crate training taps into your dog’s natural instinct to have a safe den to sleep in. The goal when crate training is to make the crate your dog’s safe place. You want him to associate his crate with pleasant things. If you are successful at crate training your dog won’t go the bathroom in his crate because he won’t want to soil his nest or den. You want to avoid using your dog’s crate as a punishment. You want your dog to have only pleasant associations with his crate.
Location, Location, Location
Choose the right place in your home for the crate. Generally, you want to choose a place that your family spends a lot of time. That being said, you want a place that is quiet at night so your dog can rest.
You don’t want your dog to associate his crate with boredom. Put your dog’s favorite chew toy in the crate so he has something to do when he is in there. Make sure the toy isn’t falling apart. You don’t want to leave your dog in his crate with a choking hazard. Always check the toys you leave in the crate to make sure they are sturdy enough to handle some wear and tear.
Make it Cozy
Make your dog’s crate cozy. Put his favorite blanket or pillow in his crate so he something soft to lay on. If you have chosen a wire mesh crate cover the top and sides of the crate with a blanket. This will help your dog feel safer in his crate.
Place treats inside your dog’s crate. Tasty treats will help your dog associate his crate with nice things. You don’t need to put food and water in your dog’s crate. Dogs that are fit and healthy do not need water overnight, which is the longest period of time you will leave your dog in his crate.
Over the course of a week, increase the amount of time your dog stays in the crate little by little. Just add a few minutes at a time. Try offering him a treat to stay in there longer. If you increase the time he is in there a little at a time, he will get used to being in there and be more tolerant of his time he is in there.
Give your dog free access to his crate. Leave the door open when your dog is not in the crate. You will be surprised at how often your dog just goes into his crate to relax. The more access your dog has to his crate the better. You should never use your dog’s crate as a method of punishment. You want it to be a safe, secure environment to your dog.
You never want to leave your dog in his crate for an extended period of time without giving him a break. Your dog doesn’t want to go the bathroom in his crate, but if he has no other option he will. Make sure you give your dog plenty of bathroom breaks when you are crate training him. He should never be left in the crate for longer than four hours without a break.
Take your Time
Some dogs will learn how to crate train in just a few days. Others will take weeks to crate train Follow your dog’s lead when it comes to crate training. If your dog picks up on it right away, that’s great. If your dog needs more time, that is not uncommon. When your dog is ready you will know. Until your dog is ready give him plenty of bathroom breaks.