Whether or not to crate train a dog is one of the many decisions a new dog owner must make. The GTHS is a supporter of crate training, however it must be recognized that every dog is different and therefore what works for one dog, may not work for another. Once the decision to crate train is made, it is important to follow certain guidelines to ensure the training has a successful and positive outcome.
The following tips on crate training have been taken from the “Caring for your Adopted GTHS Dog” Manual:
In the wild, wolves live in a den or cave. It is important the entire wolf pack keep this area clean. The same idea works with your family pet. Your dog’s crate is his home, his bedroom. It is likely that your dog will not like to soil his bed. Therefore, he will wait until he is let out to do his business.
Housetraining with your Crate
On average, puppies can hold their bladders one hour for every month they have been alive, plus one hour. For example, if you have a three month old puppy, he can wait 3 + 1 = 4 hours. If you work longer than this, the best solution is to have someone (a neighbour, a relative, a dog walker) come in at an appropriate time to let your dog out.
Choosing a Crate
A crate is a dog’s very own special place. When you choose a crate, be sure to select the correct size for your dog. The crate must be large enough for the adult dog to stand up straight, turn around and lie down in a stretched position. Crates usually come in two varieties: fiberglass and metal. A fiberglass crate will provide a greater sense of security for your dog; a metal crate is collapsible and will allow for better circulation.
Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
For crate training to be most successful, your dog must be properly introduced to the crate. Crate training should begin as soon as you bring your new dog home. Equip the crate with water and a blanket or towel. Start off slowly and increase the time gradually. Place the crate out of the way, but not away from the action: your dog is one of the family, and needs to feel he is not being banished when confined in the crate.
Introducing your dog to the crate should be positive and fun. Never place your dog in the crate after disciplining him. Your dog needs to feel the crate is a happy, secure place. Select a command such as “Into your house”. Encourage your dog to enter by tossing a treat into the crate. Leave the door open at first. Once your dog enters readily, close the door for a few minutes, and praise him with a cheerful, positive voice. Leave your dog with a special chew toy, just for the times he is in the crate.
Any complaining your dog may do at the beginning is not usually caused by the crate, but by the new controls set by this unfamiliar environment. Do not let your dog out when he whines or complains. By doing so, you will only reward his bad behaviour. When your dog settles down for five minutes, release him from the crate.
Once you feel your dog can be left on his own, you may practice leaving him alone for short periods of time. Allow your dog access to only certain areas of your home. As with children, place breakables and dangerous items well out of reach! Your dog’s crate is a tool that should allow you to have a smoother, happier relationship with your dog. It is not intended as a place to leave your dog and ignore him.
While crate training is a very effective method of training your dog, it may not be the answer to every behaviour problem your dog might exhibit. If your dog seems to be taking a long time to come around, do not give up! Your dog can be trained to be a fastidious member of your household regardless of age. Just be sure to give your dog every chance to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, and let your dog know you love him for him!
The Golden Rules of Crate Training:
• The crate belongs to your dog. It should be off-limits to children.
• You are the “pack leader”, and you are in charge. Your dog needs to learn this!
• Never let your dog out when he is whining. Giving in will make it more difficult to train him.
• Remember, you are doing your dog a favour by keeping him safe and out of trouble when you are unable to supervise him.
• Your dog’s crate is not intended for long hours of use. When you are at home, your dog needs to be out of his “house” and in your company.
• Never use the crate as a means of punishment.
• Do not place the crate in a draft or in direct sunlight.
• Do not leave a collar or tag on your dog when he is in the crate. It may catch on the bars and cause injury to your dog.