Whether you just brought home a new furry friend, you’re headed back to the office after working at home for the past year, or you just want to get ready in case you need to kennel your pet, crate training’s an essential skill for your doggo to learn. And while it might seem like a daunting task to undertake, it can be simple to crate train your dog if you keep this post in mind.
What Is Crate Training?
Not familiar with the term ‘crate training?’ Not a problem, because we’re here to help! Crate training simply refers to the act of getting your dog comfortable in a crate or kennel. There are countless times when crating your dog may be necessary, and crate training helps him enjoy crate time, so he doesn’t dread the kennel. Crate training can be tough, but with some patience on your part, some training tips, and a positive attitude, almost all dogs can learn to love their crate.
Why Crate Training Is Important
Crate training your dog doesn’t mean you should keep him crated all the time. Instead, it’s a way to ensure your dog will be happy when he does need kennel time. And there are many times when crating is helpful or necessary:
When There’s A Storm: If thunder’s just not your dog’s thing, he may go to great lengths to deal with storm anxiety. Crating him can help him feel safe enough to weather the storm without stress.
When You Go On Vacation: Whether you have a pet sitter stay in your home, or you bring Fido to doggy daycare or a pet hotel while you’re away, chances are, he’ll need to be crated at some point. Plus, it’ll help him feel safe and cozy when he’s missing you.
When You Expand Your Family: Whether you have another baby, or adopt another dog, introducing new family is a big transition for everyone. Crating your dog can help keep him, and your newest addition, safe!
- When You Head Back To The Office: If you’ve been working at home thanks to the Pandemic and your dog’s used to having you home all day, it’ll be a big adjustment for him when you go back to the office. Crate time can help him deal with that separation anxiety.
Always be mindful of the amount of time your dog’s kenneled. He should never be forced to go for long periods of time without having space to stretch, roam and do his business. And always keep it positive! Don’t use your pet’s crate as a place for ‘timeouts.’ Only use it when necessary.
When Should You Start Crate Training Your Dog?
It can be easiest to teach a puppy new habits. That said, you can crate train a dog at any time. If you’ve adopted a senior sweetie and are getting him comfortable in your home, there’s no reason you can’t crate train him. Or, if you’ve just brought a brand new puppy into your family, same goes. Crate training is possible at any age and at any life stage. It might require a bit more time and patience when your dog’s already developed some of his adult habits, but don’t let that deter you.
Before You Start Crate Training Your Dog
There are a few things to keep in mind before you get started on your crate training journey. Instead of diving right in, take time to prepare yourself to train your dog and collect all the necessary materials. You’ll be far more successful if you’re prepped, instead of diving right in, with no plan in mind.
Check Your Mindset
Your dog’s so incredibly intuitive, he’ll pick up on your feelings. If you try to crate train him, and you’re not in the right frame of mind, it’ll make things more challenging for both you and your dog. There’s nothing negative about crating your dog or crate training your dog when it’s done with care and responsibility. Your crate is not a cage, a prison, or any other negative thing you’re envisioning. It’s actually an opportunity for you to give your dog a space that’s entirely his own. Which is amazing!
His crate is his bedroom where he can go when he wants to get away, when he needs to rest, when he’s feeling stressed. It’s his space, and if you make sure you think about his crate in this way, your pup’s much more likely to get on board when you’re trying to teach him to love crate time.
Positivity Is Key
There are lots of methods, tips, tricks, and processes you can call on to train your dog. And whatever route you choose to take, there’s one thing we know for certain: positivity goes a long way. Whether you’re a full-blown believer in ‘positive reinforcement’ or you’re just happy to tell your dog he’s a ‘good boy’ as often as possible, it’s important to stay positive when you’re crate training.
Instead of getting upset when your dog does, keep your cool and let him know when he’s doing something you’d like him to do again. And again. And again! If he’s whining, pawing, clawing, and begging to get out of that crate. Wait until he’s stopped. And then reward him for that cool, calm, and collected behavior.
All that’s going to require a whole lot of patience on your part! As a pet parent, there’s a lot that can be frustrating. From accidents in the house to barking, anxious behavior, and more, there are plenty of opportunities for you to lose your cool. But, just remember how much joy and love your pet brings to your life. That pee stain on the carpet or chewed pair of shoes is totally worth it. So, when you head into crate training, keep your composure. Stay calm. And remind yourself that your pet is learning something new. It’ll take time. And it’ll require you to stay patient. You can do it! And so can your pet.
Get The Gear You Need For Crate Training
Before you start crate training, make sure you’ve got a setup your dog will love. Look for a crate that’s nice and sturdy—that your dog can not escape. He may be stressed when you’re teaching him about this crate business, and a crate that won’t splinter, buckle or partially release him is key to keep him safe throughout the process.
Also, keep comfort in mind! Every pet has his own idea of what the perfect bed looks like, and it’s up to you to take note and set up a crate that your pet will be comfortable in. If he loves to snuggle, consider adding a blanket or two on top of his crate pad. Or, if he’s getting up there in years, a little extra padding would do his joints some good.
That said, resist the temptation to chuck all his favorite chews, bones, stuffed animals, and toys into his crate along with him. Your pup shouldn’t be left unattended with any toy, and the same is true when your pet is in his crate. Keep your pet safe, and leave those toys out of the crate.
Also stock up on treats, new toys, and other rewards that’ll be super exciting for your dog. It’s best to get them in advance, so you don’t run out midway through training.
Help Your Dog Calm Down Before You Get Started
Before you start crate training, make sure you help your pet stay as calm as possible. He should get plenty of exercise. Take him for a long walk right before you plan to crate him for the first time. And spend plenty of quality time together. This will help him understand that he’s still going to get lots of pets and kisses from his human, but he’s also going to spend some time alone in his crate.
If your dog seems extra anxious, consider adding a calming supplement to his diet, as well. It can be a great way to provide a little extra support, so your dog enjoys the crate training process a little bit more. Look for ingredients like hemp, chamomile, or ginger root, which have all been shown to help your pet feel a little less stressed.
Let’s Start Crate Training!
Whether you’re crate training a puppy or an adult dog, the method’s pretty much the same. Gentle, positive training is best, combined with a careful process that’s as stress-free as possible! Here are our crate training tips:
- 1: Start Small: When you’re ready to crate train, start by coaxing your pet into the crate and back out again. Don’t try to leave him locked in there for any period of time just yet. Instead, introduce him to his new lair. Show him that it’s a cool place where he can hang out and get cozy. And that it’s all his. Reward your pup each time he enters the kennel with a tasty treat or his favorite toy. And repeat.
- 2: Shut The Door: When your dog's comfortable going in and out of his crate, step things up a notch. Shut the door for a few minutes. Hang out nearby, watching TV or answering emails, and just let your pet get used to chilling in the kennel, while you’re around. Let your pup out, but only when he’s settled, calm, and quiet, and repeat! Increase the amount of time he’s in the kennel, and your pup will be comfortable with crate time, in no time.
- 3: Step Out for A Little While: Next, try leaving the room or the house. Keep the amount of time you’re away modest. But your pup should be able to handle it by now. Then, do the same the next day. And the next. Gradually increase the amount of time your pet’s left at home, in his crate, while you’re away.
- 4: Repeat: Take your time, especially if you’re planning to keep your pet crated while you’re at work all day. It’s a big adjustment for your pup who’s had you home with him all the time. The more preparation and time you can take to help your dog through the transition, to get him ready for your return to work, the better.
Pethonesty Supplements to help with Crate Training:
If your pet seems anxious, consider a calming supplement to help when you’re crate training. Pethonesty Premium Hemp Calming Chews are formulated with soothing organic hemp, sleep-supportive melatonin, valerian root to help ease anxiety, and more. It’s a powerful blend that’ll help your dog feel a sense of zen, which is definitely necessary when you start crate training.