Crate Training FAQ

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Crate Training FAQ

This is a discussion on Crate Training FAQ within the Training and Behavior Stickies forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Contents: What is crate training? Why crate train your dog? I don't want to crate train. Is there an alternative? What types of crates are ...

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Old 02-17-2010, 07:13 PM
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Crate Training FAQ

Contents:
  1. What is crate training?
  2. Why crate train your dog?
  3. I don't want to crate train. Is there an alternative?
  4. What types of crates are there? What type should I get?
  5. What size crate should I get?
  6. Where should I put the crate?
  7. How do I introduce my dog to the crate?
  8. What if my dog won't enter the crate?
  9. How do I teach my dog to enter the crate on command?
  10. How do I teach my dog to love his crate?
  11. How do I work up my dog's time alone in the crate?
  12. How long can I leave my dog in the crate?
  13. My dog is really anxious when I leave or when I come home.
  14. Do I provide water for my dog in his crate?
  15. My dog is getting out of his crate. What do I do?
  16. My dog is having accidents in his crate!
  17. My dog is severely anxious in his crate and is hurting himself.
  18. How long will it take for my dog to be successfully crate trained?
  19. My new dog is supposedly crate trained, but doesn't seem to like it.
  20. My dog is crate trained. I'd like to work him out of the crate.
1. What is crate training?
The basic premises to crate training is teaching your dog that all good things come from the crate. It is not abusive. It is not a punishment (NOR SHOULD IT BE USED AS ONE). Dogs are den animals, and by showing your dog that the crate is his "room," you are giving your dog a consistent safe space while also giving yourself a valuable training tool.

2. Why crate train your dog?
  • You've just adopted a dog or puppy and don't know how destructive he'll be while you're away, or you know your dog is destructive while you're away.
  • It is a helpful tool in potty training (see the House Training How Tos thread).
  • Your dog can be put in his crate if it's not safe for him to be out (for example: young children or rowdy dogs visit).
  • Dogs are den animals. By teaching your dog that the crate is his den, he will be able to go there voluntarily if he is uncomfortable or tired.
  • You have a portable safe space anywhere you take your dog (for example: friends' houses, hotels, etc.).
3. I don't want to crate train. Is there an alternative?
If you don't wish to crate train your dog, doggy-proofing a room that can be gated off (such as the bathroom or kitchen) can be used as an alternative for a potty training tool or for a dog that is destructive when left alone. It will not be a complete substitute.

4. What types of crates are there? What type should I get?
Crates come in various materials, the most common being plastic or wire. Plastic crates are more den-like but can be harder to clean and don't collapse. Portable wire crates are the easiest to clean and carry, although the exposed sides and top can sometimes make the dog feel less secure since it isn't enclosed like a den. If you are potty training your dog, wire crates are typically recommended. Not only are wire crates easier to clean than more enclosed crates, but they can also be lined with potty pads if your dog hikes his leg.

5. What size crate should I get?
The crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lay down inside comfortably. It should not be smaller or the dog will be uncomfortable. It should not be larger because the dog could begin using one half for sleeping and the other for a bathroom.

6. Where should I put the crate?
The crate should go in a room where the family gathers, such as the living room. Dogs are social animals and will want their den near their family. If you have a new puppy, it is recommended you have an additional crate (or move the crate nightly) in your room for your dog to sleep near you.

7. How do I introduce my dog to the crate?
The crate should be left with the door open and the dog should be allowed to examine it. You can put treats around and in the crate for the dog to take if the dog isn't scared of the crate.

8. What if my dog won't enter the crate?
If your dog won't enter the crate on his own, DO NOT FORCE HIM. You can start by giving him treats and also feeding him his meal outside the crate door. Once he is comfortable eating outside the crate with the door open, try moving his food or treat just inside the crate door. Progressively move his food to the back of the crate, ensuring he is comfortable eating at the point the food is placed before moving the food back.

9. How do I teach my dog to go into the crate on command?
If your dog is comfortable entering the crate, throw a treat in the back of the crate for the dog to take. When the dog has entered the crate for the treat, say the word you want to give the action, such as "crate". Say the word every time the dog enters the crate for a treat during training.

10. How do I teach my dog to love his crate?
The basic premises to crate training is teaching your dog that all good things come from the crate. As with all training, set your dog up for success in your crate training sessions. Most dogs are food motivated, so this means associating the crate with not only your dog's regular meals but also high-value treats that your dog DOES NOT GET FOR ANYTHING ELSE.

If your dog is familiar with the crate and will enter it willingly for a treat:
  1. Feed all meals exclusively in the crate. Feed him with the door closed, wait until he finishes, then open the door. If he won't eat with the door closed, you can work up to closing the door for the duration of the meal by beginning with him eating his entire meal with the door open.
  2. Leave treats in the crate for your dog to find randomly. Early on in his training, you can drop treats in the crate every 10–20 minutes without him seeing. He will start entering his crate to look for magically-appearing treats. The time can be varied and extended once he is used to this.
  3. Once your dog knows the "crate" command, you can make this a game for him and play several times a day. Have him enter the crate for a treat, obey other commands while in the crate (sit, stay, etc.) for a treat, and exit his crate on command for a treat.
  4. Command your dog into his crate. Close the crate door, and immediately treat him and open the crate door. Close the door again, and immediately treat and open the door. Slowly increase the time the door is closed in varied intervals with shorter (easy) times periodically, making sure your dog is calm during each step. If your dog whines or barks, go back a step and lower the time
  5. Command your dog into his crate, and give him a special treat that will take him awhile to eat. If he exits the crate with his treat, command him back in or put his treat back in the crate. If he continues to exit with his treat after three tries, take the treat away. The idea is that your dog is making a choice. He can choose to have a delicious treat (in his crate), or no treat.
  6. Crate him with a treat WHILE STAYING IN THE ROOM, so that he doesn't associate the crate with you always leaving. Time can vary.
  7. If you are leaving your dog in the crate for a long period of time, your dog should be given a high value treat that will last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. A Kong stuffed with peanut butter, cheese, or other high value food is good for this. Visit www.kongcompany.com for Kong recipes.
  8. If you are leaving your dog in the crate for a long period of time and the dog is familiar with you, leave an item with your scent, such as an old t-shirt, in the crate with him.
  9. Your dog should be crated with a few crate-exclusive, safe toys/chews along with his treat. If you have several of these toys, they can be switched out from day to day. These toys should be taken away and hidden when your dog is not crated.
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Last edited by Criosphynx; 02-18-2010 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:14 PM
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11. How do I work up my dog's time alone in the crate?
Depending on your dog and how often someone will be home, you can either train your dog slowly, building up his time over a period of a week or so, or you can devote a few days to doing some serious crate exercises (#10 and bullets below). Remember to treat heavily during each exercise for the desired behavior.
  • Slowly increase the crate time with your dog alone. For example, start crating your dog for 10 seconds initially (treat), then 12 (treat), then 15 (treat), then 8 (treat). The time should be increased in varied intervals with shorter times periodically, so that the training doesn't only get progressively harder.
  • When beginning, train in multiple short sessions (less than 5 minutes), versus one long session. Dogs remember better this way.
  • Be sure your dog is calm at each time period you train at. If your dog begins barking or whining during your training, you have increased the time too fast. Go back a step and lower the time.
  • If your dog does begin barking or whining during training, wait until he has paused barking or whining to either re-enter the room or let him out of the crate. Go back a step and lower the time. Remember to treat heavily for no barking or whining.
  • If your dog begins barking the moment you leave view, begin by decreasing the amount of your body visible to him (for example: hide half of your body behind a wall and work up to just an arm showing). Work on time once your whole body is out of view and your dog is calm.
  • If you must leave for a long period of time or are going to bed and crating your dog who is not yet crate trained, be prepared for 10–20 minutes of barking. At this time, you should completely ignore your dog since he is looking for your attention, whether good or bad.
Once your dog is able to calmly stay in his crate for 90 minutes, 6 hours should be fine.

12. How long can I leave my dog in the crate?
An adult dog should not be crated for more than 6 hours a day and 8 hours a night. As a puppy can only hold their bladder an hour longer than their age in months, this number is the maximum amount of hours a puppy should be crated (for example: 3 month old puppy = 4 hours max crate time). This is a general rule of thumb. If your dog or puppy cannot hold his bladder for this long in the crate, he should not be left in the crate this long. Keep in mind your puppy may need to be let out in the middle of the night to go potty.

13. My dog is really anxious when I leave or when I come home.
  • If your dog has anxiety when you start getting ready to leave in the morning before crating, evaluate what repetitions make your dog anxious (such as putting on your shoes and picking up your keys). Vary the time and the order in which you do these things to lessen your dog's anxiety.
  • Use a common word for leaving and arriving, such as "I'm leaving" and "I'm home". This teaches your dog a word that means you will be back.
  • Don't make a production of leaving or arriving as this can increase your dog's anxiety. Calmly command your dog into his crate, leave him his treats and toys, and exit. When you return home, let your dog out of his crate and quietly take him outside to potty. After he has done his business, you can give him attention.
14. Do I provide water for my dog in his crate?
Your dog should always have water in his crate, except at bedtime. There are two common types of crate watering systems: a bottle (looks like a large hamster water bottle) and a bowl that screws onto the side of the crate. Either can be used.

15. My dog is getting out of his crate.
If your dog is destructive when left alone and is escaping his crate, you can reinforce the crate with something large, get a latch to keep the door closed, or try a more durable crate, like an aluminum crate.

16. My dog is having accidents in his crate!
Assuming your dog doesn't have a UTI and is healthy, you should put your dog on a feeding and watering schedule so that you know when to take him out. Water should be taken away at bedtime or a few hours before bed. If your dog is on a schedule and still having problems, he is either not potty trained, or being left in the crate too long. See the House Training How Tos thread. Don't expect no accidents at all. He will most likely have accidents during the learning process.

17. My dog is severely anxious in his crate and is hurting himself.
If your dog is displaying severe anxiety, he may have separation anxiety. In this case, crate training is not appropriate. You will need to consult a trainer and possibly set up leaving your dog at doggy day care instead of crating while you are away.

18. How long will it take for my dog to be successfully crate trained?
Depending on the dog and how much training you do, it will take anywhere from several days to a few weeks.

19. My new dog is supposedly crate trained, but doesn't seem to like it.
Just like with potty training, dogs can regress when big life changes happen, such as moving to a new family. If your new dog was supposedly crate trained when you got him, you should still introduce him to the crate the same as an untrained dog to ensure his success.

20. My dog is crate trained. I'd like to work him out of the crate.
If you are confident your dog is ready to be worked out of the crate, you can begin leaving him home alone and out of the crate for short periods of time (a few minutes) and increase the time. You may want to gate off parts of your house and make sure the area your dog will have access to is doggy-proofed. You can also treat the dog the same as if you were crating him, but leave the crate door open.

Remember:
1. Set your dog up for success in your sessions.
2. Never use the crate as punishment.
3. All good things come from the crate.
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Last edited by Criosphynx; 02-18-2010 at 11:58 AM. Reason: fixed and added at request
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:21 PM
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I haven't read the whole thing yet (I really need to go to bed right now) but I bet it will be very useful to have a thread about it!! Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:29 PM
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Bravo!! I mean really well done! This is Sticky material absolutely! Thank you so much!!!
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:37 PM
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Thank you both very much! I basically just compiled and cleaned up all the crate training posts. I see a lot of repeated questions and I thought this would be the easiest way to help people out.

Oops, and I just realized I titled it Crating Training. LOL. Is it possible to fix that?
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:42 PM
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haha, i didn't even notice...i'll fix it.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:26 PM
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oh, lol...i just responded in your other post about this... brilliant... thank you so much for putting the time into making this
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fawkese1 View Post
oh, lol...i just responded in your other post about this... brilliant... thank you so much for putting the time into making this
You're welcome. I really enjoyed writing it all out. It was one of the things I was really proud of in training Cannon. Man, did he looove his crate. You couldn't even say the word "crate" in a conversation in front of him, or he'd run inside of it, spin around, and stare at you. LOL.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:18 PM
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I'm not sure if I should start a new thread for questions about crate training or post here. If I need to create a new thread let me know and I'll do so in the future.

I have a question about when I should start crate training. We'll be getting our puppy shortly and I have a life-stages crate for her. I plan to start off small and increase the size of the crate as she grows. Since she'll only be 8 weeks old when we get her should she start this process right away?

Also, it is mentioned that the crate should be moved into the bedroom at night. We don't want that to be the case. Our cat's food is in the bedroom and we want to have our bedroom blocked off from puppy access to allow them a place to go to get away from the dog if she starts to annoy them. Is another location in the house acceptable? I was hoping we could move her to a loft upstairs but there is no way she could see or hear us from there...or vice versa. Is this something we should avoid? If so, why?
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:22 PM
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You may get more responses with a new thread


Most people start with an X pen or small room so there are clear sleep and potty areas since a puppy is so prone to accidents...you CAN start the puppy at eight weeks, but you have to be 110% on top of them so they don't have accidents in the crate.
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