Crate Training & Tips

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1 Crate Training & Tips Owners are often unsure whether they need to crate-train their puppies, newly adopted dogs or even older dogs that are already an important part of the family. Here are some compelling reasons for having a dog that enjoys relaxing in a crate: Crate training helps with the following: Housetraining: prompts the dog to hold bladder and bowels when unsupervised to expedite housetraining. Chew-training: prevents the dog from chewing furniture, walls and anything else except the chew toys he is crated with so good habits automatically form. Settling down: patterns the dog to be inactive when alone or at times when he would otherwise be underfoot. (Examples: when the doorbell rings, when there are dinner guests to name a few) Owner as good guy: by managing housetraining and chew-training mistakes the dog partially self-trains without a constant stream of corrections from the owner Preparation for possible close confinement: dogs that are used to close confinement are less likely to be stressed when caged during agility, nose work and other sport activities as well as hospital stays or travel. Secure Den: gives the dog a comfortable, secure and safe den like area where he is assured peaceful and uninterrupted quiet time. To get the crating effect, the crate should be only large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around and stretch out comfortably. An ex-pen, dogproofed room or too-large crate allows the dog to use one end as bathroom area and the other end as bed.

2 GETTING STARTED AT HOME: Building a positive association w/ the crate You can t just throw the dog in the crate and expect him to adjust. That would be traumatic. In the case of crate training, an ounce of patience is worth a pound of cure! If you take the time to incrementally build a positive association with the crate for your dog, both you and your dog will be very glad that you did. During these first four steps we will be allowing the dog to enter and exit the crate as he chooses. Later we will learn to kennel up on cue, relax with a closed door and increase the duration of his stay. For now it s important to build a simple positive association. Step one: Discover your dog s TOP 5 favorite treats!! The possibilities are endless. Some of the favorites in our house are chicken, cheese sticks, Costco meatballs, K-9 magic, natural balance, baked sweet potato strips to name only a few. In addition, get to know his favorite long lasting chew sticks or chew toys such as a stuffed Kong or Bully Stick. You will be using calories from these treats in addition to his daily kibble for his crate time training. The tastier and more variety the treats the more motivated your dog will be to scoot inside to collect his surprise. Step Two: Early association is huge. Make the crate comfy with a nice crate pad or blanket and situate the crate in a high traffic area like the kitchen or family room. Step Three: Tie the door to the crate securely open. Many dogs may spook at the sound or the movement of the door. Remember, we want to associate only good things with the crate. Step Four: During the day or evening when the dog isn't looking, drop a couple of treats at the back of the crate. Don t point these out to him. Let him discover them on his own. Step Five: Feed his meals in there, always with the door open. Once the dog is comfortable eating in the crate, you can also try using heavy string; tie an attractive stuffed chew-toy to the rear inside so that the dog must lie in the crate in order to chew on it.

3 We want the dog to begin to experience that only the good stuff happens while he s IN the crate behaving nicely. You can choose to progress with each next step at home as your dog builds a solid positive association with the previous step. Step Six: After a few days using step 1-5, start teaching the dog to enter and exit on cue. Say, Go to bed or Into your crate, throw in a treat and praise as the dog goes in and eats the treat and then let him exit at will. Repeat this a few times and then change the order of events slightly: instead of throwing the treat into the crate after you say Go to bed, wait for him to go in on his own before dropping in the treat. If the dog doesn t enter on cue, simply wait. Do not cue him a second time and don t crack and throw the treat in. Just wait. If he doesn t go in, end the training session without comment. Try another session in a little while, still withholding the reward until the dog goes in of his own accord. When he does (and they all do eventually so hang in there), give him a double or triple reward, do a few more rewarded reps and then end the session. Always leave the dog wanting more! Step Seven: When the dog is going in and out on cue, you are ready to try the first lock-in. Play the in/out of the crate game, only now close the door after he has gone in and feed him treats through the grate for a minute or two before opening the door. Do this several times. Then practice walking around the crate and around the room while he is locked inside, pitching treats at him occasionally and then, after a couple of minutes, opening the door and letting him out. Be sure and make the whole thing a positive experience for him. Step Eight: The next step is to add some real duration. Crate him while you watch a movie or read a book. Stuff a couple of Kongs or chew toys with something really tasty or grab one of your dog s favorite long lasting chews. Set the crate up right next to your chair and, just before you sit down to enjoy the movie or your book, cue the dog into the crate. When he goes in, give him the Kongs or chew toys, close the door and start the movie. Leave a few times to get a snack or a drink, but always come back

4 within a minute or so. The first experience being locked in the crate for this length of time must be an overwhelmingly easy and good one. Any noise, agitation or tantrum from the dog should be ignored. Sometimes upon finishing his treat the dog may fuss a bit. Do not open the door if the dog is misbehaving, as this can potently reinforce the misbehavior At the end of the movie, if the dog is quiet and settled in the crate, simply open the door and let him out.. When you do open the door, behave neutrally. Make the exit an anticlimax. All the good stuff should happen while he s IN the crate, behaving nicely. Now spend a few days crating the dog with the door closed when you re at home, going about you usual business. Ignore any noise. Provide a meal and/or an interesting chew toy each time. Step Nine: The next step is leaving the house. The first time you do, leave for just a minute, and then come back. Then do five minutes, fifteen, and hour, two three and four hours. Throw in some short sessions (a minute or so) in between to mix it up. Depart and arrive without any fanfare. Tire the dog out with vigorous exercise and training and make sure he has time to potty before the longest absences. It is important to gradually condition the dog to being in the crate this way before using it in your day to day life. Don t forget the tasty treats! HELP! HE SOILS THE CRATE: If you discover you dog is soiling his crate, the first thing to try is removing the pad or blanket for a week the porous material may be triggering elimination. Be sure, also, that you are not stretching the dog too long between bathroom trips and forcing him to eliminate in his crate. Keep both the dog and the crate scrupulously clean. You can often nurse back the clean instinct. It would also be prudent to also have him checked by his veterinarian to rule out a bladder infection or sleep incontinence.

5 Crate Tips Do s and Don ts Never use a crate as punishment. Your dog will come to fear it and refuse to go in it. It is to be his sanctuary where he is safe and happy. Do not leave your dog in a crate too long. A dog that is crated day and night will not get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. If your dog soils in his crate while you are out, DO NOT punish him upon your return. Remember to take you dog outside as soon as you let him out of the crate. This is very important especially if you are working on housetraining. Do not crate a dog when temperatures reach an uncomfortable level. Do not fall into the trap of only crating your dog when you are about to leave the house the crate will begin to be associated with your leaving. Do not let children go into the crate or treat it as a playhouse. They should not pester a dog that is in his crate. The crate is your dog s private sanctuary; his rights to privacy should always be respected. When Crates are NOT advised: If your dog has severe separation anxiety when left alone. In these cases the crate can actually act to increase the dogs anxiety and sense of panic! If your pup is too young to have bladder, bowel and sphincter control. If your dog has not had adequate time to eliminate prior to crating If your dog has not had sufficient exercise, companionship and socialization

6 If your dog is suffering from a health condition such as bladder infection, prostrate problem, diarrhea, vomiting, worms etc. Duration Guidelines: 2 month old puppies: 2 hours is the maximum he should be in a crate at one time; 3 month old puppies: 3 hours 4 months old puppies: 4 hours, etc. If they are sleeping, you can add an extra hour or two HOWEVER not every puppy reads the manual! You can start with these guidelines but gradually increase the duration as your specific dog is able to control his bladder and bowel functions. Except for overnight, no puppy or dog should be crated for more than 4 to 5 hours at a time. If your dog has to be in a crate for more than 4 hours we suggest that you use a small room (can be a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room) but not a crate: A dog walker or puppy day care facility can also be good alternatives. Crate sizes and manufacturers: ~Small, Vari-Kennel #100 or General Cage #201: Dogs weighing 6-10 lbs. ~Med. Small, Vari-Kennel #200 or General Cage #202/212: Dogs weighing lbs. ~Medium, Vari-Kennel #300 or General Cage #203/213: Dogs weighing lbs. ~Large, Vari-Kennel #400 or General Cage #204/214: Dogs weighing lbs. ~Very Large, Vari-Kennel #500 or General Cage #205/215: Dogs weighing lbs. ~Extra Large, General Cage #206 or Mid-West #89-Z, 89-E or 99: Dogs weighing 100+lbs

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