– By Betheny Green

I can’t tell you how many people I have encountered in my pet care experience that have complained because their dog HATES the www.pawspetcareathome.comcrate.  As in, crying, whining, howling makemewannadrownmyselfinabathtub noise until they finally have had enough and give in. Prime example….I have a client with a new puppy who has resorted to letting the puppy sleep with her because it “hates” its crate.  Now, the puppy isn’t crying but the client STILL isn’t sleeping!

Successful crate training is all about POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT….meaning:
1. You don’t use the crate as punishment.  EVER (negative reinforcement).
2. You don’t just throw your puppy or dog in the crate when you are leaving the house (negative reinforcement).
3. You don’ just shove your puppy in the crate for night time (negative reinforcement).

If your pup runs away every time you bring out their crate, try these tricks:

  1. First of all, your puppies crate should only be big enough for her to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably. A crate that is too big provides room for her to go to a corner to pee and poop. Crates are like “dens”.  They do NOT need to be playpens! You will likely need to purchase a few crates to “grow” with your puppy.
  2. Your dogs crate should be out where family is walking around and she can clearly see everyone.  Not shoved in a dark cold lonely basement, room or corner.
  3. Your puppy doesn’t need alot of bedding.  A towel will suffice but you must be careful…some puppies will chew and swallow towels/bedding and cause a bowel obstruction or death.  A puppy may pee on the towel. A puppy will not normally soil it’s sleeping area, so remove those things if they are a problem.
  4. When introducing a crate, leave the crate door open and let her wonder in and out of the crate. PRAISE YOUR PUPPY WHEN IT GOES VOLUNTARILY INTO THE CRATE.
  5. To make her crate appealing, smear peanut butter on the floor of the crate and shut the door (without her in the crate). She’ll smell it and want to get inside. Wait 20 minutes (let her sniff it out really good!), then unlatch the door and let her in.  When she finishes licking the peanut butter off the floor let her back out, but leave the door open and place toys and treats inside the crate. Repeat a couple times a day OR drop little pieces of kibble in there for her to find. PRAISE YOUR PUPPY WHEN IT GOES VOLUNTARILY INTO THE CRATE.
  6. When you aren’t playing with, walking or interacting with your puppy, put her in the crate with a highly valued treat (a frozen kong) or toy.  Let her observe you walking around while she is in her crate.
  7. If you know that she has pottied and is not hungry, if she wines or cries, don’t run to her and take her out of the crate.  You are teaching her that every time she wines, you are going to come running!
  8. A puppy can hold it’s bladder for ONE HOUR for every FOUR WEEKS OLD it is up until the age of 6-8 months.  So, don’t go off and leave your puppy in a crate for long periods of times.  Puppies are like babies and toddlers! Every hour or so, let her out and take her out to potty.

You are teaching her that the crate is a safe, fun (yummy!) place to be and that it’s OK to be in there even when you are home walking around.  Once your puppy starts associating her crate with good food and good times, she’ll go inside without a problem!