The Sanity of the Crate

There are times when the concepts of sanity and dog ownership don’t mix. It’s not that we don’t love them and vice versa, but sometimes we just get in each other’s way. In order for us to mix, we sometimes need to separate the ingredients. We need space.

One of the easiest ways to create space is to teach your dog about the most awesome and peaceful place in the universe, the crate. Now I know that many people bemoan the crate as cruel and unusual punishment. “And besides” they say, “my dog hates the crate.” But the fact of the matter is that for many dogs the only time they see the crate is when something “distasteful to doggy” is about to happen; so why would they like the crate?

Crate training should be fun and relatively easy for the both of you. Unless you have a dog that was raised in a puppy mill, or was in a situation where they spent the majority of their time in a crate, or has separation issues, crate training is pretty painless. Here are just a few ideas that will get your dog making positive associations with their crate:

Crate Training Dos

  • Feed your dog in and around the crate
  • Play food games that teach the dog that going into the crate is great and going into the crate on command is even better
  • Make up games that involve the crate such as touch or close the door
  • Make their first stays in the crate short ones that result in a walk or a fun game upon release
  • Place a Kong or other fun (and safe) toy to keep them occupied when teaching them to settle for extended periods of time

Even though it’s a simple process, there are a few things you want to avoid when training your dog to like the crate, they include:

Crate Training Don’ts

  • Even if you feel you were thoroughly provoked, do not use the crate as a “go to your room bad dog” punishment (sin bin for you hockey fans), especially when you are trying to train them to like the crate
  • Do not leave the dog in the crate for extended periods of time with nothing to keep them occupied, especially when first teaching them to accept the crate
  • Place the crate where they won’t have a direct view of activities they will most certainly want to be a part of

I am sure others can find a few more dos and don’ts to add to the lists, but I think the point is pretty clear. As with any training, creating a positive association with an object means your dog is more likely to accept and interact with it than when the object has primarily negative associations.

The bottom line is that if you turn the crate into a magic box where learning and fun things happen from time to time, then they won’t mind as much when your ultimate goal is to keep them from parading your underwear around during the Christmas party.

Cheers

Kevin

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