A dog can learn to think of his/her crate as a special place. Believe me, my dogs love their crates. Truly. The secret? Simple. They think of their crates as a good place to be. Why? Because that’s where they receive FOOD – and dogs love their food!
With a new dog or pup, I place the crate in the room where I spend the most time. For us, that’s our kitchen/sitting room combo. I work at my laptop a lot of the time on the kitchen table. This is where everyone hangs out. This is the place to be in our house. So, the dog wants to be here, too. The crate is placed in a corner out of the way. A nice soft bed is placed inside. A water bowl is placed inside, as well. The crate door is left open. One or two of the pup’s favorite toys are placed on the bed. Occasionally, I toss a treat inside the crate and the pup rushes in to get it. The pup is served his/her meals in the crate. Wow! Yum! I get good things in here. This is not so bad, says the pup. Keep throwing in treats. In fact, make that the only place the pup gets a treat for a few days.
Once you see that the pup is enjoying his crate, when he goes in to get the treat you tossed in, casually close the crate door for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to bang it closed. Open it again after this short time. Slowly increase the amount of time the door is closed (ever-so-slowly, a minute or two at a time). Do this door closing when he’s getting something good – like his meal. Keep increasing the value of the treat. This is really getting good! he thinks. When you are up to the 5-10 minutes range, try stuffing a KONG with peanut butter and treats. This will keep your dog happy and content and allow you to make major strides in increasing the time the pup will tolerate being in a closed crate.
With the increased time the door is closed, you should now be able to move the crate out of your mainstream area. And, again, using baby steps, you can ever-so-slowly widen the distance until the crate is in the location you’d like it to be in.
Think crating a dog is unfair? Not so. As I said, my dogs love their crates. Each of our four dogs has his/her own room. No one switches. It’s their special space. When I say, Time to eat! they trot into their crates and wait to be served. I never shut the door during feeding time. But, being in their individual rooms, prevents James from eating up everyone’s food. Time to go to bed! they run right into their rooms and settle down to sleep. James is terrified of thunder and finds comfort and security by hanging out, rolled into a ball, in his crate.
When I’ve had a crew of workmen fixing things in the house, my dogs are crated for safety as the men go in and out of the house, leaving the door wide open most of the time. I’ve been witness to two dog casualties at parties of friends when the dog has gotten out during the festivities and been hit by a car. Wouldn’t crating the dog have been better? When a friend or relative visits who is allergic to dogs or simply doesn’t like (or fears) dogs, your crate-trained dog can be put in his crate, happily, because you have provided him with a KONG stuffed with goodies. I have actually put one of my dogs in her crate with 3 stuffed KONGS. She was happy for several hours. Crate training your dog from the start is well-worth the effort. Time ~ and Patience ~ required!