Dog crate training doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or even frustrating task. When you use the right methods, you can successfully crate train your dog without using force or punishment.
The first step to crate train your dog is to create a positive association with his crate. This will help your dog to learn that his crate is a place of rest and comfort, not a place intended for punishment.
Conditioning Using Treats & A Clicker
Instead of throwing your dog into a crate to let him get used to his new environment, use a clicker with reward-based training to help your dog acclimate and make a positive association with his crate.
This is a truly smart way to approach dog crate training; you will lure the dog into the crate with delicious treats. Once your dog goes into the crate willingly to receive the treats, you can use the sound of a clicker to reinforce the action and encourage good behavior.
- Place a handful of treats in the crate with the door open.
- Wait for your dog to notice the treats and enter the crate to eat the treats.
- As soon as your dog goes into the crate, click the clicker to mark the behavior and give him another treat. (You can let him eat the treats that are in the crate. Eventually your dog will understand that getting into the crate is the behavior that earns him the treat.)
- Leave the crate door open so that your dog can come and go as he pleases. Each time that he enters the crate to get another treat, click the clicker & give him a treat to reinforce the behavior.
- Continue this activity for several days until your dog becomes comfortable with the crate.
- The next time that your dog goes into the crate, close and open the door. That will get him used to seeing the door behind him. Always give him a treat to keep this a positive association.
- After closing the door for a moment, let the dog out immediately.
- After several days of this activity, increase the amount of time that the door is closed, starting from 30 seconds up to 2 – 5 minutes. You can give your dog some treats through the door while he is in the crate so that he associates pleasure with the treat.
- The next step will be for you to step away from the crate. Place your dog in the crate and walk away, then turn back and give your dog a treat. You can do this a few times in a row, but don’t leave him in there yet.
- In the last exercise, you will combine the amount of time he is in the crate with the door closed and also with you walking away (to another room). Gradually increase the time that your dog is in the crate before rewarding. When letting your dog out of the crate, make it fun by going outside or for a walk.
This is by far the most effective method in dog crate training to use to reinforce a positive association with a crate. Instead of feeling like you are locking your dog in a crate for hours at a time as a form of punishment when you leave the house, your dog will start to see dog crate training as a game.
When this method is used properly, your dog will love spending time in his crate – believe it or not. After this method has been used for successful dog crate training, you can leave the door of the crate open all day long so that your dog can enter as he pleases. You may find that your dog will enjoy resting and taking a nap inside of the crate because he feels comfortable, safe, and protected.
Once this happens, you will know that you have used dog crate training successfully! The entire point of a crate is to give your dog a safe, restricted area to spend time in whenever you leave the house. This will set clear boundaries for your dog so that he feels secure and is not anxious about doing something wrong and getting punished.