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How to Crate Train Your Dog by Anna Schwartzenberger, Performing Paws

How to Crate Train Your Dog by Anna Schwartzenberger, Performing Paws

June 05, 20243 min read

Crate training can be started at any age! As mentioned in my last article, it has many benefits and should be a staple when bringing a new puppy home.

My favorite way to teach a dog to love their crate is to make being in their crate super fun and positive. Start by making sure you have an appropriate size crate for your dog’s age and size. If you are potty training, make sure the crate is only big enough for your puppy to turn and lie down. That way they are unable to potty in it and get away from it. It can turn into a bad habit that is hard to break if given too large a crate too quickly. If you have an adult dog who is not a potty risk, it can be any size as long as they can stand in it and turn easily.

Once you have the crate ready, grab some super yummy, high value treats. My client dogs love beef lung. Put your dog in the crate. Feed him the yummy treats through the holes in the crate without opening the door. At this point, it doesn’t matter if he is moving around or getting excited. Do this exercise a few times a day for the first day. You can start asking your dog to sit during the second or third session before giving him the treat. Next, use the same super yummy treats and start barely opening the crate door to feed him. This step can get tricky as you need to be mindful of a few things. If you grab the handle of the crate and your dog starts banging on the crate door, or whining, or being rambunctious, take your hand away. Once he settles, try again. This will reward them for being settled verses losing their minds when they get let out of the crate.

When you open the crate door just a crack to slide the treat in, encourage the dog to sit. If he tries to rush out the door, shut it and don’t give the treat. Continue this routine. Every day opening the door more and more before giving the treat. Once you can open the door all of the way and your dog is sitting without trying to rush out, you can start teaching your release word. I use “free.” Have treats ready. Both the yummy treats, and some just regular treats. I use just regular kibble. When you tell the dog “free,” make sure he comes to you for one of the regular treats. As you feed the treat, grab his collar and point him back at his crate. Use whatever phrase you want to use to send the dog to the crate, such as “get in your crate.” Let go of the collar and give the yummy treat when he gets back in. Shut the door and repeat. By now your dog should love going into their crate and be calm when released!

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Stacey Poehler

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