Crate Training a Dog – A 5-Step Method to Get You Started

Crate training a dog is a bit of a controversial subject. But let's face it — living with a dog can be no different from raising a child. Dogs "go" whenever they feel like it. They don't think twice before they put their muddy paws onto the couch. They see nothing wrong with chewing out your slippers, too.

If you want to reclaim your slippers, your couch, and your right to come home to a spotless house, the best thing to do is to start crate training a dog!

Giving your dog crate training is the best option for you if you want a pet that is not just literally a housekeeper, but is also housebroken. Some believe crate training a dog is inhumane. This need not be the case for you. Crate training puppies can be a positive experience, depending on how you do it.

Now, on to the bad news: crate training puppies can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. But here's good news: it's a process that is well worth your effort and time. A crate-trained pup is a better behaved little housemate so go get a crate and get your canine to give it some lovin'. Here's how to go about giving your puppy crate training.

Step One: Introduce Your Dog to the Crate - Before you show your dog the crate, take pains to make it warm and homey. Put a soft blanket inside it and leave the door securely open. Then, place the crate in the living room or any other area where the family spends most of its time. This way, your pup won't see the crate as a threat.

Step Two: Motivate Your Dog to Walk Up to the Crate - Remember Hansel and Gretel? For this next step, you need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs—or more appropriately, a trail of treats—that lead all the way to the crate. If this doesn't work, toss your dog's favorite toy inside the crate. Get creative; there are many ways to motivate your canine.

Step Three: Start Giving Your Dog His Meals Near the Crate - This will create a strong association between food and the crate, a connection that his stomach will surely appreciate. Then, inch his plate closer and closer to the crate until one day, you can finally put the dish inside. What this strategy does is seal in your dog's mind the happy connection between getting fed and getting crated.

Step Four: Open and Close Doors - Crate training a dog is all about milestones, and this is a very important one. The moment your dog feels comfortable enough with his crate to stand inside, try closing the door while he eats but re-open it as soon as he's done with his meal. Try leaving the door closed for longer periods. This will help your canine get used to his new living space. If he whines or cries, do not let him out unless he stops it. Remember, crate training a dog is not just about limiting doggy's space; it's all about teaching him good behavior.

Step Five: Repeat Steps One to Four - Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. Get your dog used to being made to stay inside the crate longer. Put him there using a treat or a command. Try crating him at night and every time you go out. However, be sure to put the crate in or near areas with plenty of human activity. That way, your dog won't associate crating with isolation. Once your pooch has learned to love his crate, you can then move the crate anywhere you want.

Crate training a dog is NOT the tragedy some people paint it to be. Think of it as a crash course in good behavior. With patience and plenty of treats up your sleeve, you can teach any dog a new trick — learning to love the crate included.

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