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Crate training your pooch could be one of the most beneficial things you do as a dog owner.
Whilst some dog-parents see crates as a form of punishment, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A crate provides a safe haven for your furry friend as it gives him or her somewhere to retreat when they need some quiet time.
Equally, it gives you peace of mind if your pup is safe from getting into things when they shouldn’t be.
However, it must be done correctly.
Poor crate training can lead to anxiety and even further destructive behaviors so we’ve put together a complete guide for how to crate train the correct way.
Ideally, you’ll start crate training as soon as you bring your pup home. This doesn’t mean he’ll spend his first night in it, but, you do need to start sooner rather than later.
Buy a crate that is sufficiently big enough for your dog.
If you have a puppy you may decide to purchase a crate that will suit him or her fully grown that also comes with a divider -to use while they are still a puppy. This way you can limit the space he or she has access to which aids in toilet training (we’ll come to that later).
Set the crate up with bedding or blankets.
You may also decide to add a cover to the crate to create a den. Be mindful of wire crates with the removable trays in the bottom. As pup stands on them, they often move which can be unnerving for a pup. Thick bedding can help with this, otherwise, you just need to work more on desensitizing your pup to the movement and noise.
Allow pup to sniff and explore the crate but don’t force him inside.
Throw treats inside intermittently and see if your pup goes for them. You’ll want them to explore on their own terms and to associate the crate with good things.
Once your pup is comfortable being around the crate, you may offer them a treat inside the crate or choose to feed them inside the crate.
Don’t lock them inside, just praise them for spending the time in there.
The more comfortable your pup is in and around the crate, whilst they are eating a treat or meal, briefly lock the door and as soon as they are finished, open the door and let them out.
Gradually, increase the time he or she spends inside. Keep the door shut for 30 seconds or a minute after they are finished with their treat or meal.
Before long, you can change how he spends his time in the crate.
Take him or her out for their walk or spend some time playing some games. This way you know they’ll be tired. Encourage them into the crate and praise and reward once inside.
As he or she is tired out, they should want to sleep in the crate. Now, your pup is learning to associate the crate with rest or quiet time.
Again, only leave them in there for short periods.
If he or she only sleeps for 5-10 minutes, that’s great. The more time you spend repeating this, the more they’ll get used to the crate and accept that it’s not a bad place to be after all.
Once your pup has accepted the crate without showing signs of distress, destruction or wanting to escape, you can consider letting him sleep during the night.
Having your pup sleep in a crate can be super-helpful in toilet training.
Puppies dislike soiling where they sleep, so they’ll be more likely to wait for you to let them out.
This way, you can take them straight outside and show them where they are allowed to go potty.
This is the basic premise of all dog training; reducing the opportunity for unwanted behaviors and setting them up to succeed with wanted behaviors.
Crates with dividers are a good buy in this situation as you won’t have the outlay of buying multiple crates as your pup grows. At the same time, you can keep the area small enough that he or she won’t want to soil anywhere near the bed!
Crates also give owners peace of mind during that teething phase – where pup loves to have everything in his or her mouth.
Whilst they are safe in the crate with their own chew toys, your pup is not swallowing anything that could potentially cause an obstruction or damage to your property.
Aside from the practicalities, a crate provides a safe retreat for your pup. He or she knows it is their space and knows they are safe.
It can be a great way to teach kids boundaries when it comes to dealing with dogs. Teach the kids that if your pup has taken himself off to his or her crate, it means they just want some peace and quiet.
Crate training your pup can be one of the most worthwhile things you do as a pet-parent.
It is not a punishment.
It can be useful for toilet training, keeping your pup safe, keeping your house in one piece and providing a safe-haven where your pup knows he or she can have some peace.
Take your time introducing it and remember, your pup needs to associate the crate with good things!
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Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick, or injured while outside of their safe space that you don’t have to think twice about the financial aspect and just focus on your pet’s care.
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