Teach Your Dog To Love The Crate

**Please Note Crate Safety

Supervise your pet while they are in the crate, until they are crate trained (calm and not attempting to escape). Remove collar and any item that could cause injury or choking hazard by getting caught on the crate.

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Teaching your dog to love the crate should be a top priority for any new pet parent. Most dogs love having their own safe space in your home that they consider their own.

For your dog to love the crate, there a few necessary things that need to be considered.

  1. Find the perfect spot for your crate or pen area.

    Having your dog space in a suitable area of the home will help your dog to love the crate. Dogs are social and want to be with you, they will not want to go into their crate if they are in a room by themselves away from the family. The various styles of dog crates have different features which have advantages and disadvantages. Choose a crate that suits both your’s and your dog’s needs.

    Day: Think about where you sit and relax, where you work and where you sleep because your dog should be with you as much as possible. Rooms that you occupy will also be temperature regulated and suitable for your dog.

    Work: If the dog will be alone while you are at work, a dog pen is preferable to a crate as it allows your dog to move around. Having an inside / outside area may suit adult dogs.

    Night: For the first few weeks, you need to place the dog crate in your room where you sleep. Then gradually move the crate to the location you prefer your dog to sleep.

    dog crate and pen with dog and toys

  2. Make the dog crate or pen area, a fun and inviting place for them.

    A stimulating environment will provide entertainment for your dog and help your dog to love the crate. Add accessories to the crate, find chew toys and things your dog loves, blanket, an old TV or radio, food and water bowls.

    dog crate and pen with dog and toys

  3. Develop A Crate Training Plan

    With the crate and dog, area prepared you will ready to start crate training the moment you bring your puppy home. You need to create a positive association with their crate. It must be your dog’s choice to accept the crate. If they show resistance, don’t force or shove stop! Or you will create a negative experience.

    Introduce Your Dog to their Crate Slowly
    First, leave the doors open and let your dog explore their crate at their leisure. Reward your dog with high-value treats, this placing a higher value on the crate as you do not give these treat outside of the crate.
    Second, when they will go in and stay calmly inside the crate while you feed treats, close the door gently, feed treats and then let them out. Gradually increase the length of time you keep the door closed until they are quite comfortable with this step.
    Third, Never miss an opportunity to reinforce the value of the crate. Feed them meals letting them enter, close door and then let them out when finished. Use their meals as treats for extra training sessions.

    Playing Crate Games
    You can play crate games often to motivate and provide fun for your dog. I just love Susan Garrets It’s Your Choice and Crate Games.

Showing stage one of Crate Games training with Rita and Nudge


where to put a dog crate in the house?

Make sure your dog’s crate is placed in an environmentally comfortable location, where he can be protected from unwanted attention from humans or other animals.


Where Should I Put My Dog Crate If I am Home During the Day?

Check out the areas of the house you live in the most because your dog will want to be with you and vice versa. Think about where you sit and relax, where you work and where you sleep. Rooms that you occupy will also be temperature regulated and suitable for your dog. Cooler in summer, warmer in winter.

Once you have decided on the room, you can then work out where in the room would be suitable.

  • Does the sun overheat an area too much?
  • Do drafts cause the crate to become cold?
  • Are you wanting an End Table crate for the lounge?
  • A metal crate under a table or desk?
  • Maybe a fenced or gated area in the corner?
  • An area near the outside wall with a doggie door?
  • Or a room under the stairs?

Dog crates come in various materials, styles and sizes offering different features which have both advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the best crate for your needs can be difficult. In my blog Dog Crates and Sizing, I cover many of the features to help make your decision easier.


Where Should I Put My Dog Crate While I Am at Work?

Consider giving your dog a spacious area around or attached to the crate for an area your dog to love.

Decide on a room as described above and then a place within that room. All your decisions will be based on the breed and the age of your dog. The smaller or senior dog may like to sleep or lie inside. The younger, more energetic and larger breeds will need more room to use their extra energy.

  • Will you provide an inside or outside area for the toilet?
  • An outside play area?
  • What can they see?
  • Do you have a window or glass dog for them to look out?
  • Can they view a TV or movie screen?

Look for games and entertainment for your dog as they will be left for longer periods of time by themselves.


Where Should My Dog Sleep During the Night?

This can be in the day area you set up or another room such as your bedroom.

For the first few weeks, you need to place the dog crate in your room where you sleep. The dog will be able to hear and smell you which will make him feel more secure. By having the puppy close to you, you will hear any whimpering or noises when they wake. This is your signal for a toilet stop. In the beginning, it could be every two hours until they get more bladder control.

If the dog is not staying permanently in the bedroom with you, then gradually move the crate to the location you prefer them to sleep. Once your dog is sleeping through the night, you can start by moving the crate to the door, then out into the hall, then on to the permanent location.

You should plan to close the door of the crate at night until your dog is trustworthy and over their destructive chewing stage.


Crating caution

As stated by the American Humane Society; a crate is not a magical solution to common canine behaviour. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated.

Never use the crate as a punishment. Your dog will come to fear it and refuse to enter.
Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long….
Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. …. Physically, an older dog can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to.
Crate your dog only until you can trust them not to destroy the house. After that, it should be a place they go voluntarily.
Teaching your dog to love the crate - crate times


How Do I Make the Dog Crate a fun and inviting place?

A stimulating environment will provide entertainment for your dog and help your dog to love the crate. One of the most common mistakes is leaving the crate empty creating an unwelcoming area for your dog to use. You need to make it Inviting, fun and comfortable, making it feel more like your dog’s home


Create A Space as Your Dog’s Own Playroom And Den

The Size of the crate matters, it needs to be large enough for your dog to move around, stand, sit and lie down. For a young puppy, the sleeping space needs to be small while they are being toilet trained. While the crate is used for sleeping, think about having an area around or joined to the crate or even their own room under the stairs. This can provide extra space for play and even an indoor toilet area. For instance, this set up would be amazing if you worked all day. Find toys and things your dog loves, an old TV or radio, food and water bowls.

A simple search on google and Pinterest will reveal heaps of ideas to bring out your interior designer!

Google Image Dog Room Ideas


Allow Access by Always Leaving the Door Open for Your Dog to Use Voluntarily

Above all, the doors should be left open for your dog to come and go. They will see this is the place where their toys are, where they eat and drink. If you want to leave them with the door closed it’s not seen as a negative experience.


Create A Safe and Protected Sleep Area

For young puppies that are accustomed to sleeping with their mother and siblings, having a sound that mimics a heartbeat will reassure them. Place a loud ticking clock in a towel or bag and place in the crate. I had a clock in an old ham bag and tried it to the wire bars to prevent Nudge from pulling it to pieces. Depending on the weather a heating pad is also helpful.

To block out the everyday activity while attempting to get your puppy to sleep place something over the crate to prevent them from seeing out. You can get crate covers for the metal crates that you can roll up and let down as required. As Nudge was attached to my winter robe I would place it over the crate.

Dog crate with cover

When your puppy or older dog has bonded to you, your smell will be calming. By adding a piece of clothing, blanket or toy can facilitate with the transition into sleeping within the crate. This will provide them comfort since it’s your scent. I have tried this with the two puppies and an older rescue dog. As an example, get yourself a dog blanket and use it when the dog is on your lap for cuddles, then place in the crate for them to sleep with.

To prevent the risk of snagging and choking. Remove your dog’s collar or harness while alone in the crate.


Respect Your Dog’s Bedding Preferences and Comfort

For a young puppy, I’d simply start with a blanket or crate mat. Numerous folks purchase expensive dog beds solely to have them chewed up once the puppy is board.

As an adult dog, you will have an understanding of your dog’s preference for sleeping surfaces.
Do they like something soft and cozy?
Or like to spread out because of feeling hot?
Nudge overheats easy with his double coat, and only ever slept on the wood floorboards; he would scratch the blankets back to search out the floor.


What Do You Put in A Dog Crate to Provide Amusement?

A bored dog will always find something to entertain them. Typically, it’s something which can be chewed; shoes, slippers, wires, or chair legs.

By providing chew toys and food-stuffed toys like a Kong, for instance, means they won’t form unwanted habits Don’t forget to add soft and squeaky toys for them to explore, just watch if they pull them apart to get to the squeaker.

Some dogs do better and feel less lonely when you provide them with something to listen to or watch. A Radio or TV next to their area can soothe them to sleep. I love dog TV, for this reason, they provide soothing music to sleep to and upbeat with whistles as they talk to your dog.

Nudge and Rita easily went to sleep with dog TV or YouTube videos playing in the background.


Teaching Your Dog To Love The Crate Training Plan

Putting your dog into their crate, locking the door, and leaving them for hours, will make your dog dislike the crate and cause future issues.


Step One: Get Your Dog to Accept the Crate

Think About What Your Dog Is Learning?

You need to create a positive association with their crate. Nothing is guaranteed to make your dog hate his crate more than being forced into it. It must be your dog’s choice to accept the crate. If they show resistance, don’t force or shove stop! Or you will create a negative experience.

Think about the positive’s while your dog is in the crate, my owner spends time with me, talks to me and keeps feeding me. All positive associations. This makes the crate a fun place to be.


How Do I Get My Dog To Go Into His Crate?

Introduce Your Dog to their Crate Slowly

First, start out by letting your dog explore their crate at their leisure. They will likely sniff around and go in and out to check it out. If you can have two doors open the better. Reward your dog with high value treats, for example, sausage or cheese, while they are exploring their crate. You are placing a higher value on the crate as you do not give this treat outside of the crate.

Second, when they will go in and stay calmly inside the crate while you feed treats, close the door gently, feed treats and then let them out. Gradually increase the length of time you keep the door closed until they are quite comfortable with this step.

Then very gradually continue this process until he is happy to enter and stay in his crate.

Showing stage one of Crate Games training with Rita and Nudge

Playing Crate Games

You can play crate games often to motivate and provide fun for your dog. I just love Susan Garrets It’s Your Choice and Crate Games. I found the training so easy and the puppies loved it. It is based on value, when you start training the value is outside of the crate, either being with you or with food. When playing Crate Games you transfer the value into the Crate by the reward of the food.

check out these videos


Step Two: Get Your Dog To love The Crate

Your dog will love their crate when they see more value by being in the crate. As they go to the crate to eat and sleep it will then become a habit for them. Never miss an opportunity to reinforce the value of the crate. I would always feed the puppies their meals in the crate with the door closed. Letting them enter and then let them out when finished. With puppies, this can be many times a day.

Better still is to use their meals as treats for extra training sessions. I hand feed both puppies for the first month they were with us, to build the value and bond.

Step Three: Get Your Dog to Seek Out Comfort in His Crate

When you need to leave them in their crate while you go out. Play with them to tire them out a bit and make certain they have been toileted. Then place them in their crate with their toys and a blanket or bed allowing them to get accustomed to being in their den like home. Ensure their environment is a comfortable temperature, lighting is adequate and background music is a reasonable level.

You can offer a food-stuffed Kong or an alternative interactive toy to keep them happy while in their crate. When you do this often as a special crate toy your dog will get accustomed to it and get excited to get their reward. When first using the Kong, supervise your dog to ensure their safety.

Playtime and Toileting Before Bed time

Enjoy some play and interaction time with your dog before placing in the crate. You will want to make certain that they are tired and prepared to sleep especially through the night.

It is wise for your dog not to eat three hours before, and drink two hours before bedtime. Allowing their bodies ample time to process the food and water. Make sure your dog has been toileted before putting them into the crate. If your dog has an accident in the crate, it can set your crate training back a bit.

Dog Crates and Rooms

Your Dog Will Love The Crate For Their Life Time

There will be times when it is helpful to have a crate trained dog. Needing to travel, use boarding kennels and staying at the Vet’s. Also, when they need to be on “restricted activity,” following surgery, or for a torn ACL, broken limb, or any medical mishap.

Crate training can be time-consuming but it’s not that difficult. All it needs is for you to follow the principles and have the dedication to see it through calmly and consistently. As a result of a properly introduced and used dog crate, yours will become the favourite resting place and retreat.

In conclusion, Dr Dunbar (founding father of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the creator of the K9 Games, and SIRIUS Puppy educational program), Sums it up below:

Every dog develops favorite places to lie down. If you’ve crate-trained your dog properly, that favorite place will be in the crate with the door open. If the dog goes there of his own accord, it’s a good sign that you have done an excellent job as a trainer.

Dog Tips Infographic

**Please Note Crate Safety Supervise your pet while they are in the crate, until they are crate trained (calm and not attempting to escape). Remove collar and any item that…
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6 thoughts on “Teach Your Dog To Love The Crate”

  1. thanks for your guide, we are looking into getting a puppy and wondered what the best way was around this ready for days when we have to work away from home.  Typically we work from home, but there are days where we need to go out and we now have an excellent guide to follow to get them used to it.

    thanks

    John

  2. My boss got a crate, fence sort of thing for our place of business so the dog can come hang out during the day. This article will definitely be useful for him so I will pass it along, as I learned a lot from it myself!

    1. Hi Katie, dogs at work are a great idea. I have Nudge with me all the time as an Assistance dog and it makes such a difference. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Honestly, we have never considered putting our dogs in a crate. We have 2 dogs by the way. But upon reading your advice in your website it looks like a very practical thing to do. I love the way you have step by step instructions and videos which make it easier to understand. Thank you for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Joquanne

  4. I think you have done an awesome job with this post.

    I have my dog but she really doesn’t like to be in a crate. I’m gonna try to follow your instructions on how to crate-train her. Because, I also think that she needs her own designated place to rest and enjoy. But, if it’s me who doesn’t know how to teach, where can I find a trainer for her? 

    Thanks

    1. Dogs like having a favourite spot to rest and sleep. I am excited that you want to try and crate train her. there are many crate training videos on YouTube, I followed Sussan Garret’s Crate Games online training. But if you need extra hands-on help you should have a local trainer that would come to you. Each country and town would be different as to the local trainers.  Hope this helps

      Row

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