There are plenty of internet articles touting the “easy” way to crate train your puppy or dog, but no matter which way you slice it, crate training requires patience, gentleness, and positivity. With those three ingredients in mind, we’ll share some reasons crate training can be beneficial as well as our tips for success!

First Things First

Different people have different circumstances that may make crate training a good idea. Here are some common reasons:

Raising a puppy – crate training a new puppy gives him a safe, secure place to call his own. It helps with housetraining and keeps him from chewing or getting into things that can be toxic. Crate training also provides your puppy with an important lesson – that he can feel relaxed and safe in confined spaces – which he’ll likely experience at some point in his life at the veterinarian, while boarding, or while at the groomer.

Provides safe transportation – a crate is the safest mode of car or airline transport for pets. Crating your dog on the road protects drivers and pets, as well as everyone else. Pets loose in cars are a distraction to drivers and are at the same risks for injury or death as people without seatbelts.

Teaches your pet to be relaxed when confined – as mentioned above, being crate trained makes things much less stressful for a dog when and if she needs to be hospitalized, board, or recover from surgery. These medical events are stressful enough, and the pet who has learned to relax in a crate will recover faster, be easier for staff and doctors to treat, and experience less pain and anxiety.

Provides safe, secure housing in an emergency – the wildfires of California are a scary reality for all of us. With the events of last year, we saw many lost or displaced pets in shelters, foster homes, and temporary housing. Dealing with pets during a natural disaster means putting them in a crate so they don’t injure themselves or others, and so that first responders can evacuate those who need help. Again, being used to a crate will provide your pet a much less stressful situation in these circumstances. Finding emergency housing for yourself with pets is also much easier when they are crate trained.

Crate Training Tips

Crate training can be tricky, but your team at Goldorado Animal Hospital is ready to assist you.

In the beginning, you should only use the crate when you are present to supervise and reward.

  • Place the crate in a high traffic, common area and leave the gate open, allowing your dog to go in and out freely.
  • You might want to toss treats or toys inside to encourage your dog to explore the crate and learn that nice things happen when he goes in.
  • As soon as the dog goes inside, continue to toss in treats at random.
  • You can also feed meals inside the crate. Give him his regular meal in the crate, leaving the door open so that he can exit as soon as he wishes to.
  • Once your dog is comfortable, shut the door only for a moment, and immediately reward. Try to give the reward toward the back of the crate so he learns that being inside is the nice place to be and doesn’t get too fixated on the door. Then open the door.
  • If your dog is comfortable, vary the time that your dog stays in the crate with the door closed, gradually increasing the time. With treats, leave the door closed for about 20 seconds. Close the door for longer periods when he has his stuffed kong or his meal.
  • When you increase the time your dog is in the crate, pay close attention that you only leave the door closed for the length of time your dog can tolerate and still stay relaxed.

Make sure your dog’s associations with the crate stay positive. Reward, reward, reward! If you feel your dog is showing signs of distress when left alone, talk to your veterinarian. If you have questions about crate training, please don’t hesitate to contact us.