Anyone who has come home to scratched sofas, slobbered shoes, knocked over lamps and urine-stained carpets knows what it means to be a dog owner. By starting early and gradually, crate training can make for a more peaceful existence with your pooch. As a natural den animal, the dog will begin to see the crate as a safe area.
About the Crate
Choose the crate's size depending on your dog's breed. It should be big enough for the adult dog or fully grown puppy to be able to stand, turn around and stretch out while inside it. If you are starting with a puppy, you may want to rent a smaller crate from the local animal shelter so that it will not become a doubled cost as the puppy grows.2
Select the type of crate depending on your preference. Plastic crates, though popular, are easily destroyed if the dog bites at the sides. There are metal crates that give the dog total visual access to the room, and some metal crates collapse for easy room changes.3
Use the crate for potty training and behavior correction. The aim of crate training is to get the dog used to relieving itself outside and to curb unwanted behaviors such as begging for food at the dinner table or scratching furniture.4
Never use the crate as punishment for bad behavior or the dog will fear the crate instead of enjoying its den. The crate should also not be used all day and night as the dog will need exercise and interaction with its owners.5
Place the crate where there is a lot of activity, such as the family room, so that the dog can still be a part of the family. Move the crate to a bedroom or a nearby hall at night so you can hear if the dog needs to relieve itself.
Introduce puppies -- or dogs beginning training -- to the crate for a few minutes at a time. Include a dog bed or blanket for comfort and feed the dog its meals in the crate. Associate the crate with positive things such as treats, toys and praise. Never force the dog into the crate.7
While introducing the crate, determine when the dog will go outside to relieve itself. Keep in mind a puppy needs to go at least six times each day and so your schedule will need to compromise with the dog's needs.8
When the dog is comfortable enough eating meals in the crate, close the crate door and sit outside while it eats. If the dog does not whimper, leave the room and come back in a few minutes. Make sure your exit is routine without emotional goodbyes.9
Work up to leaving for three or four hours provided that the dog does not soil its crate or show signs of separation anxiety. It is alright for the dog to whine and beg but do not to let it out until the noise stops. This means giving the dog attention only when it is exhibiting good behavior.
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