Does your dog not do well in the house alone?? Or did you just add a new doggo to your pack?? Guess what? It’s time to crate train. Don’t worry – I got your back. Whether you call it a kennel or a crate, Ryder and I have some tried and true crate training tips to make the process a breeze.
Don’t Call It “Kennel”
First off, don’t call it a “kennel” or a “crate”. How often do you get frustrated with your buddy and want him to just go to his place? A lot of people use the kennel as a timeout or punishment. Phrases like “Go to your kennel.” or “Kennel Now!” come out very negative.
We want the crate to be like your dog bedroom. Just like your bedroom is your private sanctuary. The kennel needs to be your dog’s happy place. We want to make Pupper feel safe in his personal space.
You can ease the angry tone in your voice simply by calling the kennel by a different name or command. Choose a name that you associate with quiet. This will make sure that when you say the word(s), your voice will naturally sound less threatening.
Ryder and I use “Inside” for our crate command. It is not really a name for the kennel, more the action… but it works for us. Some dog parents will use “Go to bed” or “blanket” or “place”. You choose what feels right for you. Just like any other command make sure that once choose your word, you stick to it.
“Sit” will always mean sit and “inside” will always mean inside.
Make it Cozy
If you just moved into a new bedroom, what would you do first?? DECORATE!
Choose a bed or crate liner that Fido will love and be most comfortable. If they love their room, they will want to spend time in it. If this is completely new to your dog, throw in something of his like his favorite toy. Here is a highly recommended bed it even comes with a comfort toy!
If your dog has separation anxiety or just always wants to be with you. Trying throwing in something that smells like you. Avoid socks or anything that will look extra enticing to chew. I would suggest an old blanket or towel.
Chose a place for your kennel that is in a quiet place of the house. If you think that your dog will be pretty nervous about the crating process, start by putting the crate by your bed’s headboard. This is especially good if you are working up to being able to sleep in his crate at night. Being up by the top of your bed will let Pupper know that you are still close and there is no need to worry.
Treats motivate most pups, so use them to your advantage. If they are a bit picky about treats, try upping the ante with a better treat. Maybe small pieces of chicken breast or cheese. (Mmm!) Ryder and I used these liver treats when we were training in obedience school.
Start by saying your chosen command word, point to the crate and throw a treat to the back of the crate. Let the pup grab it and run out of the crate if he pleases. Get down on the ground with your dog, so that when he is inside he can still see you. That gives him more comfort.
Keep repeating this step 3-5 times a day for a couple of days, unless you feel like he is not bothered by stepping inside. The goal is to make your dog feel safe and to help him learn your new command word.
Keep It Open
As you go about your day, keep the crate door open. Remember you want his room to always feel inviting. Make sure he is free to roam in and out as he pleases. Dog’s are very territorial being able to explore his kennel on his free time fosters confidence that it is truly his space. The more freedom, the better he will feel once the door is shut.
Work with the Door
After doggo has mastered the understanding of the command and seems comfortable with his new room. Throw a treat in with command and have him lay down. While he is inside, move the door around a little. Don’t close it just yet. We just want him to learn the sound of the door and associate it with yummy treats. Work on increasing the time he lays inside in small increments. This is a good time to use the “wait” command if you know it.
Keep repeating this step 3-5 times a day for a couple of days. If you are confident with your progress and there is no nervousness, move on to shutting the door.
With the door shut, give some treats through the door. Keep the door closed for a few minutes. If the dog seems uncomfortable, let him out with plenty praises. Then do the same again after a good break.
If Pup ever starts getting anxious and nervous, let them out and try again later. You never want to force or overwhelm your dog. Always make sure to give them plenty of encouragement throughout the process, and take it slow. Conquering the baby steps one at a time will make your training efforts last.Always make sure to give plenty of encouragement. Click To Tweet
Like all other things in life, you need to practice regularly. Even once you master the command, keep going through the exercises. You can practice all your commands together. After a while, Pup will find it to be a fun game.
I sit and get a treat. I lay down and get a treat. I go inside and get a treat! I’m pretty much the most awesome thing ever!
PRO TIP: If your dog ever gets a bit restless in the kennel, try putting a blanket over the crate. Doggie can associate the dark with night-time and curl up for a relaxing nap.
You can read up more on crate training. This is what the Humane Society has to say about it. Start a howl and let us know your favorite crate training tips in the comments below.
Best of Luck!!