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Being a pet parent can be tough, especially if you're going through the dreaded potty training session with your puppy. But crates can be used to make both your lives easier. In addition, a dog crate can become a safe space for your puppy or older dog as they get used to living in a new environment. But how exactly do you get your dog to love their crate? Here are some tips to get you started.
Dogs may be domesticated, but they still have the same instincts that helped them survive for so many years. This includes desiring a small space, sort of like a den. They'll naturally seek out a den in your home.
By using a crate or a kennel, you provide them with the safe place they are already seeking. It's also a great way to work on dog training. Start with these crucial tips:
Dog crates that are too small will leave your pup feeling anxious and cramped. This can be difficult when your dog is still growing, as you may feel like you have to buy several crates. If you know your dog's breed and have an idea of its size, it's easy enough to get them a dog crate that will suit your dog's needs as they grow into adulthood. This is an entirely different story for those who have new puppies and have no idea what breed they are.
With that in mind, The Humane Society recommends that you get a crate large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. It's also important that your dog be able to lie down.
Crate training takes time. If you try to rush it, your pup may develop a negative association with its crate. In fact, it can take weeks to get them used to it, and getting them to stay in for at least two minutes may seem like a major victory. So treat it like it is, and continue to give your dog love as they learn to feel comfortable in their crate.
Start with short periods of time. You need to stay with them while you do so, at least at first. You should never leave the house with your dog in the crate until it can handle it for at least thirty minutes.
By placing your dog's favorite squeaky or kong toy filled with peanut butter, you can teach your dog that the crate is its own place. It's OK if it drags them out. When you clean up after your dog, just toss the toys back inside.
Chew toys are great for when you have to put your dog in for extended periods of time, such as when you head to the grocery store or are going out to see the latest rom-com in theaters. Puzzle toys are also great for keeping their attention elsewhere, and blankets can help them feel even more comfortable.
You should never use a crate as a source of punishment. They're great for things like house training, handling separation anxiety, and potty training. You want your dog to have a positive association with its dog crate, but if you use it to punish your dog, then you're defeating the purpose. If your pooch has extreme behaviors, you should consider working with a dog trainer.
You should also avoid leaving them in their crate for longer periods of time.
Also, don't close the crate door the second they get in. Instead, let them go in and out without having the door close at first. This will let them become accustomed to going in.
This is just a fact of life, especially for adult dogs who have been rescued. Unfortunately, you have no idea what happened before they joined your family. With that in mind, you may need to speak to a dog trainer about working with your dog. They'll be able to offer training tips to help teach your dog.
A behaviorist may recommend positive reinforcement training, such as using a clicker. According to the American Kennel Club, "A clicker (or marker) is a tool that can make positive reinforcement training more efficient. After being repeatedly associated with a treat or reward, a clicker becomes a conditioned reinforcer." But if your dog is willing to accept a dog crate, don't hesitate to use it.
Some dogs will never accept dog crates, and that's OK. This could be because of past events you aren't aware of, or it could even have to do with the fact that they simply don't like small spaces. Whatever the reason, there are other options out there to train your dog. A dog behaviorist can give you more tips.
While the answer you're doubtless looking for is that it can be done in just a few hours, the truth is that the crate training process takes time. Depending on your dog, it may take a few weeks or months.
By using short periods of time in the crate, you can make the dog feel safe rather than trapped. Then you increase the time. Don't hesitate to use bribes, and make it clear that this is their space. Also, don't make them stay inside for long lengths of time. This will make them feel trapped, which is the complete opposite of comfortable.
There's no point in using a crate if your dog is uncomfortable. To do this, they need to know that it's their safe place.
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