By Eric Gillaspy CPDT-KA
Crates and kennels have a lot of uses in our dog culture. We can use them to house train our dogs, to transport them, and to have a safe place to keep our dogs while we can’t be with them. Teaching our dogs to accept, and even enjoy their crates is a really useful skill to give them.
It is easiest to start when they are young dogs or puppies. I like to start by throwing some treats or a food-stuffed toy in the crate, but only when the dog isn’t looking. Then, I calmly walk over with the pup and point into the crate to show him that his crate “grew” treats or a toy while he wasn’t looking. It is very important to make sure the treats come from the crate and not from you. The positive association should be with the crate.
After doing this a few times, you may start to notice that your puppy is checking out the crate more frequently. Keep the rewards coming from the crate. Once your puppy is starting to go into the crate a lot, add a cue or command, such as “go to your spot.”
Pretty soon, your pup will start to associate the cue words of “go to your spot” with going to the crate that contains treats. When your puppy seems to be accustomed to the crate, start to shut the door of the crate for short periods of time. You can also feed your dogs it’s meals in the crate. Start small and work towards longer time periods.
Crates are also wonderful tools to use to house train your dog. If you have associated the crate with food, your pup will love the crate and be less likely to eliminate in it. Dogs don’t like to eliminate where they eat and sleep.
When you take your dog out of the crate to go potty, take him directly outside. Give him a few minutes. If he eliminates, have a “potty party” for them. Tell them “good potty” and reward with food, playtime or attention but make sure to use a specific word or words and be consistent with the words you use.
If your puppy doesn’t eliminate after five or 10 minutes, take him back in and put hm back in the crate. Then try again and repeat this process until he does eliminate and you can have a “potty party” for him.
This is not a punishment but a way to show him to take the opportunity to eliminate when he has it. In a way, this ensures that the dog will always be successful by eliminating outside. Crate training is one of the easiest ways to house train your pup.