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dog training in south London

Crate Training: Yes Or No?

Something that is often a polarising topic among dog owners is whether or not to crate train your pup when you bring them home for the first time.

Crate training involves using a dog crate or kennel inside and encouraging your pooch to view it as their home within a home, a place of their own that’s safe and familiar, somewhere they can go if they need some alone time or need somewhere to escape in a new or stressful environment.

Why should you crate train your dog?

Crate training can be something of a controversial topic among dog owners, with some believing that it’s unkind on the pup. However, this is ultimately a bit of a myth and, in fact, you may find that your dog thrives, is better behaved and feels more comfortable overall once they’ve become familiar with their crate.

There are all sorts of benefits associated with this method of training, everything from giving your four-legged friend somewhere to go when they’re stressed, tired or nervous to helping them settle in new places, making it easier to travel with them and even helping them get to grips with toilet training, since dogs usually avoid toileting where they sleep.

It’s also worth noting that, in the event of an injury of some kind, being able to use a crate can help your dog with its recovery, ensuring that it gets the rest it needs and doesn’t run the risk of injuring itself further. This will also give you peace of mind if you have to go out and leave your pup on its own for a time.

How to crate train your dog

It’s advisable to prioritise crate training as early on in your dog’s life as possible. 

Puppies will get to grips with it very quickly and it’s a skill that will serve them well throughout their life, but it can be difficult for an older dog to pick it up, especially if they’re already dealing with health conditions like arthritis or incontinence, which will already be putting them under stress. Asking them to learn something new at this point could make this stress worse.

To get started with crate training, put the crate somewhere at home with the door open and secured. Put some bedding that they’re familiar with in the crate so it smells like them and is more comfortable for them to snuggle up in. 

The aim is to make the entire experience as positive and enjoyable as possible so they never look at the crate as something negative, something to be avoided.

Once it’s all set up, let the dog into the room and let them have a good sniff about, investigating the crate without your involvement. If they show any interest in the crate, reward them with their favourite treats and if they go inside, reward them again – but do not shut the door, as they may not be prepared for this and it could put them off.

Keep the door open for a while to give them the freedom to come and go as you please.  It can help to make the environment even more appealing for them by putting treats and toys inside.

From there, you can start closing the door while they’re inside (without locking it). Choose a time when the dog is naturally more tired when you first do this, as they are then more likely to accept the door being closed.    

When the pup falls asleep, try and pick him up and relocate him in the crate, so that he gets used to waking up in the crate. Continue in this way for a couple of days until you’re sure that your dog is happy with being inside. Try locking the door while you’re still in the room and see what happens. 

You can then build the time up until they’re happy being left when you’re not in the house. Whatever you do, however, always make sure that they have easy access to water, whether they’re crated or otherwise.

What is important, however, is to ensure you never leave the dog in the crate for too long. While crating can help your dog feel more secure and less anxious, if you over-crate them you may find the opposite takes place. 

If your dog doesn’t get enough human interaction, stimulation or exercise, they can easily become depressed – much like we would if the same was done to us!

Also make sure that you never use the crate as a form of punishment. Again, your dog needs to see their crate as their refuge, their safe space, and if you use it to chastise them for bad behaviour, all your hard work with the crate training will be undone.

And remember that as with any kind of training, getting your dog used to the crate will take time, patience and perseverance. If you need any help with dog training in south London and the surrounding areas, get in touch with Sean Hyden today to see how he can help.