Perfect Puppy Training Book – Chapter 3 – Crate Training (Part 2)
Chapter 3 – Crate Training (Part 2)
Crate Training: The Basics
Pick a short cue to teach your puppy that you want her to enter her crate. It can be “Go to kennel!” or “Kennel up!” or even “Go lay down!” It doesn’t matter what words you use—just be sure that you and everyone in your family use the same cue each time.
- Have the crate door open. Get some delicious treats that your puppy likes. You can even use her kibble breakfast for this exercise.
- Show your puppy a treat, and toss or place it in the crate. You may find that you need to put the treats near the crate door at first. You can even leave a little trail of treats from the crate door toward the back of the crate.
- When your puppy goes in after the treat, praise her. Don’t shut the door behind her yet.
- Repeat this exercise several times over the course of a few hours. If she’s not interested at all, try using different treats.
- Remember, puppies have no attention spans. If you toss a treat in the crate, and she hears a noise outside that distracts her, she’ll forget there ever was a treat. You’ll have to remind her.
- Pick up your puppy. Give your cue “Go to kennel!” or whatever cue you chose, and gently place your puppy in her crate.
- Immediately give her a treat and praise her.
- Shut the crate door for a few seconds. Talk cheerfully to your puppy. However, try not to say things like “It’s okay, you poor thing, it’s okay, I’ll let you out soon,” because you’re really teaching your puppy that the crate is a bad place. Don’t reassure her as if something was wrong. Just happily tell her she’s a good girl for being in her crate.
- If your puppy paws at the crate door or cries, whines, or barks, completely ignore her. Don’t talk to her, and don’t even look at her. If you do, you’ll just reward that behavior. Just wait until she calms down. Only pay attention to her when she’s behaving the way you want.
- When your puppy is calm, open the crate door. Do it very casually, without excitement. If you make a big deal when your puppy leaves the crate, you’re teaching her that getting out is a good thing. You want to teach her to get in the crate instead!
- Repeat this a couple times, gradually increasing the amount of time that your puppy is in her crate, going from a few seconds to a few minutes. Remember to use your cue every time you put her in the crate. Give her a treat each time also to reinforce that it is a good thing.
- After a few days of crate routine, it’s time to teach your puppy to go into her crate on her own, rather than you placing her there.
- Get a treat in your hand. Show it to your puppy, and give her the cue “Go to kennel!” Then use the treat in your hand to lure her into the crate. If she follows it in, give it to her when she gets into the crate and praise her. Repeat several times a day. If she does not follow the treat lure into the crate, try using more tempting treats.
- Start this step after she is readily going into her crate when you give her the cue.
- Cue your puppy with “Go to kennel!” Give her a food-stuffed rubber toy and praise her when she enters the crate. Shut the crate door, then leave the room or just go about the house as you normally would.
- Wait a few minutes, then walk by her crate. If she is behaving and not whining, pawing at the crate door, or barking, praise her and give her a treat through the crate door. If she is acting up, ignore her and walk past.
- Repeat, gradually working up to longer periods of time in between treats. You’re teaching your puppy that good things happen when she’s in her crate.
- After about ten minutes, if your puppy is calm, open the crate door. Be relaxed and don’t praise her for getting out of the crate.
- Continue this process and gradually work up to longer periods inside the crate. Tip: The longer she’s in her crate, the better the treats should get. Start with regular kibble, then work up to liver or other tasty treats. Your puppy will learn that the longer she’s in her crate, the better it gets. Also, vary her toys. If you only give her a food-stuffed toy in her crate when you leave, she could start associating that toy with you leaving and may not like it anymore.
- Once your puppy is happily running into her crate when you give the cue, and staying there for longer periods of time, you are ready for Step 6.
- You are going to stop using a treat to lure your puppy into her crate. Stand by the crate and give the cue “Go to kennel!” Point inside the crate as if you have a treat in your hand. This is not to trick your puppy. Her nose tells her it’s not there. Instead, you are using the same hand signal that you’ve actually been teaching her all along. Dogs learn body language much faster than verbal language, so if you use your hands the same way, she will better understand what you want of her.
- As soon as she goes into the crate, praise her. Shut the door, quickly get a treat from where you keep them, and give it to her through the crate door. This will teach your puppy that you may not always have treats with you, but she should still do what you ask because she’ll be rewarded.
Continue with this training process until she is comfortable and happy in her crate.
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