Remember you are the CEO, the minute you give in and let him call the shots, then you’ve lost the respect of your dog and it will be an uphill battle to train him from that point forward. As long as your dog sees you as the one in control at all times, then the task of teaching a new behavior (such as staying in a kennel for hours at a time) becomes easier over time, rather than harder.
#1. Stick to your goal. And don’t be intimidated by your dog.
Introduce your dog to the crate by placing it in a ‘people’ area (kitchen or family room). Use an old towel or blanket for bedding. Put your dog’s toys and a few treats in the open crate, allowing your dog to come and go as he wishes.
Feed your dog in the crate with the door closed. Clean up any spills promptlyit’s very important for the crate to stay clean. Your dog doesn’t need to stay in his crate long, but should get comfortable eating his meal there.
Put your dog in the crate when he is tired and ready for a nap. As soon as you hear him start to wake up, go to him and take him outside. Do not let him out if he is barking or whining because this will reward him for being noisy. – Never let your dog out until you give the release word! He should stay inside even if the door is open until he hears the release cue.
#2. Resist the urge to change things inside the kennel.
If they tear up their bed or any other “comfort items” leave all of the old shredded bedding inside his kennel (after closely inspecting and removing any small or dangerous parts). Often this will stop them from shredding stuff in their kennel! Perhaps because is very little left to shred. Perhaps it was because it makes them finally feel in control and comfortable with their environment.
So, this may be one time when a little messiness doesn’t hurt… in fact it may HELP!
#3. Slowly increase the amount of time you leave your dog in the kennel.
Leaving your dog for 4 hours in the first week or so of crate-training may be too much too soon.
Several smaller increments of time spent inside the crate, as opposed to just 1 or 2 long spells in a day is very often much more successful. To achieve this, you may have to disrupt your usual “routine” a bit.
#4. Make your dog stay in the kennel when you’re home sometimes, too.
This is to teach them that:
- A) You call the shots; and
- B) It isn’t a bad thing to have to be in the crate.
To do this, you have to make them spend time inside the kennel for no reason — several times throughout the day. Since you will be home and they will know it (sometimes seeing you and sometimes not), it can help them begin to feel more comfortable inside the crate. Of course they always get a BIG reward any time they stayed in there quietly for a long period of time.
You can change up the things you stuff the Kong with and change up the “only in the crate” treats, adding an antler or hoof, etc.
These “positives” help to make it a pleasant experience for your dog.
#5. Never use the crate as a bargaining tool or as a form of punishment.
No matter what, you can never use the crate as a form of punishment… or, as a bargaining chip whenever you’re communicating with your dogs.
“Stop it, or you’re going in the crate!” will set you back a few weeks in the course of your crate-training process. Especially if you carry out your threats and make the dog(s) go in the kennel at a time when they were being “bad”.
It’s simply confusing to the dog.
So remember, time inside the crate should always be a positive experience.
#6. Don’t force your dog inside the kennel.
This could mean that you have to adjust your personal schedule (or arrive late sometimes), simply because you haven’t allotted enough time to properly crate the dog, stuff the Kong with dog treats, put his favorite toys in the kennel, etc.
Your aim is for your dog to have a good experience with each and every aspect of the crate — from entering, to lying down, to standing up, to playing with *new* or “all-time favorite” dog toys, to snacking on his most favorite dog treats, to spending long hours inside the kennel, to the moment the door is opened and he’s eventually let out of the crate.
#7. Never set your dog up for failure.
As with everything you want to train your dog, you should never set your dog up to fail. Forcing your dog inside the crate only increases his anxiety, and puts him on edge right from the start. This increases the likelihood that he will perform some form of destructive behavior inside the crate. You are setting him up to fail.
Instead, try this:
Set things up so that your dog always views himself as having succeeded. With crate-training… you should go through a series of baby steps where your dog is rewarded for spending even milliseconds inside the crate without barking or digging. This is setting him up to succeed! Your dog should always enter the kennel of his own free will. That is the first sign of success, and he should be rewarded dearly (with a special treat) for that tiny bit of success.
#8. Praise & reward like crazy whenever you spot even the tiniest bit of progress.
Give TONS of praise for being good in the crate. (“Good” is a relative term… “good” if he’s made some improvement over his past behaviors.)
WITH SEVERE CASES, IT MAY COME DOWN TO:
- Every time you see LESS destruction inside the crate than the time before, you give MORE praise than the time before. It can start with the basic (unemotional) “Good boy. Good dog in the kennel.” This was immediately followed by a big bear hug, at which point, you both go outside for frolicking and fun in the backyard.
- The next time, if there is even less destruction, you raise the pitch of your voice to sound even happier with the dog’s progress and physically show them with longer hugs (or whatever form of affection they love the best – some don’t like being hugged) and bigger smiles that you are very proud of him for being a “good boy inside the kennel.”
- You get the picture. The better the behavior in the crate, the more wonderful the rewarding praise, treats, fun games, etc., until your dog knows, without question, how incredibly proud you are of his achievement and how this FUN time together of hugging and praising will happen every time that he’s good inside the crate.
- In the end, despite the fact that this process of crate training an adult dog can be actually torturous sometimes, the end result will be worth it.