Crate training is an invaluable skill that can make life with your dog feel like a walk in the park. However, the process of crate training is not always as easy as anyone would like. Here are six ways to make crate training a little easier for you and your dog.
1. Start Small
In the beginning, you’ll want to have your dog in their crate for short periods of time. You might give them their food in the crate and have them spend a few minutes inside with the door closed after breakfast is done. Initially, this time might only be two minutes. Slowly, you can increase the time spent in the crate to four, six, eight minutes. The goal is to get your dog used to being in the crate for longer and longer periods of time. By taking small steps forward, your dog will get used to being inside without feeling trapped, anxious, or frustrated.
2. Make the Space Theirs
One of the most important things you can do when crate training your dog is to make the crate feel like your dog’s personal den. Bring their favorite toys, blankets, and items with your scent on them into the crate. You could even feed your dog in their crate and have them sleep in it, so they get used to being in the space. This will help establish the crate as a place they enjoy spending time.
3. Make the Crate Part of Your Home
When crate training, it can also be helpful to leave the crate door open when not in use. This shows your dog that the crate is inviting and a place they are free to go in and out of. It also helps incorporate the crate as a normal part of the house, not just an area used for training.
4. Establish the Crate as a Positive Space
All to often, crates are associated with work or training. To give your pet a more positive outlook on their crate, you can give your dog a treat any time it goes into the crate. Reward your dog any time they are near the crate, so they associate this part of the house with happy experiences and are more willing to spend time there by choice. Additionally, try to pet-proof the area around the crate, so your dog can’t get into anything too dangerous.
5. Take a Walk After Crate Time
Most of the time, crate training is useful for potty training your dog so that they get used to using the bathroom outside. However, in order to reinforce this routine, it’s important to take your dog for a walk or let them outside at the end of your crate training time. This will help reinforce that a bathroom break is on the way. Once your dog adjusts to this schedule and knows what to expect, you’ll find they are less tempted to do their business inside.
6. Practice Patience
When doing crate training or teaching your dog any new skill, it’s easy to get frustrated with the speed—or slowness—of the process. Remind yourself that there’s always a learning curve. And if you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock, give yourself and your pooch a break. Pick back up when everyone is feeling refreshed and focused.
Crate training doesn’t have to be a pain and if you’ve been waiting to get started, now you have the inside scoop on what your next steps should be. With these six tips, you can make life easier for you and your dog over the long-term.