10 Steps Crate Train Your Dog The Happy Way!
4. Add bedding
If your pup is a chewer, try chew-resistant mats or beds to start. Bedding should be easily washable in case of accidents. Favorite toys are also a good crate addition. Of course, make sure she still has plenty of room to lie down.
5. Use Rewards
Most dogs are food-motivated, so giving treats when they get in their crate will help them be excited about crate time. If your dog is less food motivated, consider a treat that the dog values more highly, like a piece of cheese instead of a dry treat, or a toy that he only gets while in the crate. All rewards should be paired with praise.
Build more positive associations with the crate by feeding your dog near his crate. As he gets comfortable, try placing the food dish just inside the crate and slowly moving it farther back.
6. Dog meet crate, crate meet dog
You want your pup to choose to go into the crate so that he doesn’t feel forced or punished; the crate should be a good place. If you already have the food bowl by or in the crate, continue to build positive associations by placing treats and toys in and around the crate to get your pup to explore. When he goes in, give him lots of praise and a treat.
Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate, or you can gently place or command him into the crate, start shutting the door for very short periods of time. Make sure you close the door calmly and with praise for the pup. Take him out of he cries or becomes upset.
7. Build Crate Duration
A puppy or dog new to crate training may only be able to handle very short amounts of time in the crate at first. Be patient! If you spend the time to train properly now, your dog will build a lifelong friendship with her crate. Make sure she has already had a bathroom break before a training session—no one has a good time when they really just need to use the bushes.
When you are first closing the crate door behind your dog, make sure she has a favorite toy, food puzzle, or treat to work on so that crate time is fun. Depending on your dog’s age and comfort level, first crate sessions could be 15 seconds to a few minutes. Be careful not to increase the time too rapidly, and stay near while she is in the crate. If she whimpers, try decreasing the crated time or offering a better treat or more interesting food puzzle in the crate.