Why You Should Persevere with Dog Crate Training
Are you struggling with dog crate training your dog?
Do you think that crating your dog in a dog crate is cruel? Or akin to putting your dog in a prison?
Well, rest assured that dogs don’t think like humans. They also see things much simpler than humans.
Your dog will not think that a dog crate is a prison unless you make it so. A dog crate is not a punishment tool and should never be used as a place to lock your dog away for any unwanted behaviors.
We give you the tools and a ‘heads up’ to deal with the most common issues facing dog owners during their dog crate training program. We show you how a dog crate can be a wonderful addition to your dog’s life when used correctly. It may even save your dog’s life when travelling or in an emergency.
We will give you the essential guide to selecting the right dog crate for you and your dog; Read our article Here’s a Quick Way to Get the Best Crates for Dogs and use our Guide to steer you through all the finer details of dog crates.
How Does a Dog Crate Work?
A dog crate can satisfy a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal to have their own enclosed personal space. A dog crate can be a sanctuary for your dog where he can retreat to for a bit of a rest, to sleep or just a place to escape to when he needs a break.
All of this is true, but it does come down to dog crate training for your dog to know it.
Persevering with dog crate training will reward you and your dog in many practical ways.
Dog Crate Uses
Familiarising and training your dog to use a dog crate will prepare your dog when things don’t go according to plan. Dog crate training is essential if only as a precaution to all the situations that may arise during your dog’s life. For example:
- Your dog is alone at home
- There are multiple dogs in one home
- Dog health reasons including an illness, recovery and vet visits
- Travelling in a car
- Moving to a new (and unfamiliar) home
- Keeping your dog safe during an emergency
- Confinement for any other reason
When you don’t provide your dog with a “den” of his own, he may make do with whatever is around like a comfy chair, under a bed, or tuck himself away in a cozy corner or cupboard.
Dog Crate Training Success
Dog crate training is similar to all the other training you will be undertaking with your dog. Repetition, consistency, patience, and your dog’s healthy respect for you as the pack leader will increase your success in dog crate training.
Our aim is to give you the ‘heads up’ on some of the more common problems you may encounter when implementing a dog crate training program with your dog.
It is important to avoid making dog crate training a traumatic or stressful experience, so always make sure your dog feels at ease throughout the entire process. Stay calm, speak gently and be patient.
Watch this short video from Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer as he gives you a little peek into the world of dog crate training.
The 7 Most Common Dramas in Dog Crate Training
These are the most common questions dog owners ask when beginning dog crate training.
How much is too much time in the crate?
Why is my dog whining?
Help. My dog is crying in the dog crate.
When I leave for the day my dog is barking while in his dog crate?
Why is my dog toileting in the dog crate?
I think my dog’s afraid to go in the crate or why won’t my dog go into the crate?
Why is my dog being destructive in the crate?
Too Much Time in the Crate?
Training your dog to be comfortable and familiar in a dog crate will prepare your dog for situations that may arise when confinement may be necessary.
A dog crate is meant to be a retreat for your dog. It is not intended as a long term home. A dog should not spend all day in a closed dog crate while you are at work and then again when you go to bed.
During the day, neither puppies nor adult dogs should be crated for more than four or five hours at a time. Follow these daytime duration guidelines (Source: ASPCA) to avoid compromising your dog’s well-being or causing behavior problems.
Age of Dog Maximum time in crate
8-10 weeks 30-60 minutes
11-14 weeks 1-3 hours
15-16 weeks 3-4 hours
17+ weeks 4-5 hours
Crate Time for Puppies
Toilet Breaks. Puppies shouldn’t spend more than 2-3 hours in the crate without a toilet break as they cannot last that long without relieving themselves.
Exercise and play time. If you leave your puppy alone all day, you will need to arrange to give your puppy a break midway through the day until he is at least 8 months old. It’s still a long time that your puppy is confined so schedule 15 to 30 minutes of play and exercise time before you leave, during the day and again after you come home.
Crate Time for Dogs
An adult dog can be crated for as long as eight hours on occasion, but only as an exception and not as a daily ritual.
If your dog has been open crated overnight and will be open crated during the day whilst you are at work then you need to provide at least 60 to 90 minutes of outdoor exercise in the morning and another 60 to 90 minutes before being put back in the crate at night.
If your dog has not been in a closed crate overnight but will be crated during the day then 30 to 60 minutes of exercise before crating is still needed.
You should also not close your dog off from the rest of the household for hours at a time. That could lead to severe social and isolation problems for your dog and may manifest itself in unwanted behaviors.
When you are home, you should place the dog crate in the room where you and the family spend most of your time. Your dog will still be part of the family but can seek refuge from the sounds and activities of the humans.
If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to determine why.
When your dog begins whining in its crate, the best thing to do is ignore it unless you are house training your dog. If your dog uses whining to seek attention or rewards, you need to ignore it. The lesson for your dog is that remaining quiet is a better strategy than attention seeking whining. Your dog will interpret any sort of interaction, positive or negative, from eye contact to touching to talking as a ‘reward’ to the dog, so ignoring the whining is best.
Now that you have ignored the unwanted whining behavior, you need to follow up by rewarding your dog for being quiet. The lesson for your dog is that being quiet will be rewarded with your attention or treats (not just food as Dog Treats come in many forms that your dog will gladly accept). Stay calm and be patient.
Dog Treats – Yum Yum!
To keep your dog on the right track with ongoing training make sure you’ve always got some treats on hand!
Puppies. Whining and crying is a fundamental aspect of puppy-hood, especially in young puppies. Make sure never to reinforce the behavior by letting your puppy out of the crate while he is crying or whining. Wait for a short period of quiet.
For a young puppy, whining may occur because it needs to relieve itself, so quietly take it out to the toilet on a lead, making sure not to play with it. Place it back into its crate once it has gone to the toilet. Once your puppy has settled and is quiet then you can reward him.
Try placing a dog crate cover over the crate if the whining persists as this can help settle the dog or puppy.
Dog Crate Covers
My Dog is Going to the Toilet in the Dog Crate
The crate might be too big for the size of your dog. In general, dogs won’t go to the toilet in their dog crate or dog cages however you do need to right-size your dog crate to make sure there is not too much empty space. Your dog crate should fit your dog. For a puppy who will grow into the space over time you need to include a divider in the crate. You can move it as your puppy grows and fills the space.
The right-size dog crate will allow your dog to be able to comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down.
So if the crate is the right size but your dog is toileting in it then you may not be letting your dog outside often enough. He may physically be unable to hold it in. At night when dogs sleep, their body systems and elimination slow down. This is why dogs can go all night without toileting once they’re old enough to have sufficient bladder and bowel control. Puppies don’t come with bladder control so toilet visits will be required for some time.
If you’ve recently brought your new dog home check to see if he was kept for long periods of time in dog cages. If that is the case he may have been forced to toilet in his sleeping area and so this may make housetraining more difficult. You will just need to be more vigilant and keep the dog crate in an area where you can easily observe your dog’s needs. Stay calm and be patient if little accidents occur along the way.
My Puppy Cries in the Crate at Night
Try placing a dog crate cover over the crate if the crying persists as this can help settle the puppy.
Keep the crate near you if possible. A puppy that is isolated from the family will often cry out of loneliness.
Your dog may be telling you he has to go to the toilet, or he may be begging for attention. If you’re not sure, take him directly outside, but do not acknowledge him. When your dog does go the toilet, quietly and briefly acknowledge him to avoid teaching your dog that midnight toilet breaks are fun. Don’t make a fuss. If he doesn’t go to the toilet, put him back into the crate and go back to bed.
Make sure your dog has been adequately exercised before crating him for the night. Read our article here on How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need.
If you are certain your dog has been exercised and toileted and is healthy, he may just need to just cry it out. Remember not to respond to the crying by giving your dog any attention.
If your dog seems to be panicking, digging, or destroying bedding, you may be dealing with separation anxiety. Seek assistance from your vet. Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won’t solve the problem.
Confining your dog in a dog crate may prevent your dog from being destructive in the house. However, if your dog is intent on escaping the crate, he may injure himself. Seek assistance from your vet if our dog is being destructive.
My Dog Makes Noises in the Crate
You want your dog’s time in a dog crate to be stress free. Your dog may be just seeking your attention and it is crucial to avoid releasing your dog from the crate when he’s making noise. You should ignore the noise as long as your dog has been exercised, fed, toileted and is not unwell. The key is to teach your dog that you will not respond to noise but you will give rewards or let him out if he is silent.
My Dog Is Afraid to Go Into the Crate
Dogs who seem very nervous about going into crates might need take small steps.
If your dog seems reluctant to step into a crate, make sure the door is fully open, take off any covers so that the dog can see you, and try putting a favorite toy or a treat into the crate. Place the object firstly just inside the crate so that your dog can poke his nose in. Next time place it further into the crate so that your dog needs to step into reach the object. Slowly and patiently does it.
You should only progress to the next step of dog crate training when your dog seems completely comfortable with going into the crate.
My Dog Panics in the Crate
If it appears that your dog is experiencing extreme anxiety when you try to confine her in the dog crate, don’t force it. Seek assistance from your vet.
My Dog Guards Things or Behaves Aggressively in the Dog Crate
Dogs who guard their belongings sometimes also guard the area around their crates. If your dog has guarded objects, food or places in the past, then you should always exercise caution when being near an open dog crate. Also be careful if you try to get your dog out of crate and avoid trying to reach in to pull your dog out. Either lift the crate up from the rear to ‘tip’ your dog out or use a reward to entice your dog out of the dog crate.
Don’t allow visitors or other dogs to approach your dog in its dog crate if your dog shows any aggression or discomfort.
Training Your Dog To Use A Dog Crate (And Love It)
Most dog owners that have dog crates seem to love them and so do their dogs. It may take some time for your dog to get used to a dog crate so be calm and exercise patience.
Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer has some basic rules for dog crate training.
Prior to commencing dog crate training you must make sure all your dog’s needs have been fulfilled. Check that your dog is;
- Not hungry
- Not thirsty
- Doesn’t need to go to the toilet
- Not bored
- Exercised fully
You should aim to only let your dog out of the dog crate after he is silent for a period.
A Dog Crate. Useful And Practical – And Essential?
A dog crate will give your dog the freedom to be comfortable when home alone. When you’ve accomplished this, you can still keep the crate for your dog to sleep or hang out in. Just leave the door open.
So how do you choose the right dog crate or dog cage or dog carrier for you and your dog? The options are many. Read our article on the Best Crates for Dogs and use our Guide to steer you through all the finer details of dog crates.
How To Choose The Right Size Dog Crate
Dimensions for dog crates are typically represented by length (L), height (H) & width (W).
Length: Measure the length of your dog from nose to tail then add another 4 inches for comfort.
Height: Measure your dog from the top of the head to the ground and make sure you add ears into the measurement if your dog normally has erect ears.
Extra Small Crates
Dog weight: Between 1 lb. to 10lbs.
Breed Examples: Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Yorkie, Papillon, Havanese plus others.
Dog Weight: Between 11 lbs. and 25 lbs.
Breed Examples: Jack Russell Terrier, Maltese, Pug, Boston Terrier plus others
Dog Weight: Between 26 lbs. and 40 lbs.
Breed Examples: French Bulldog, King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer, Welshie plus others.
Dog Weight: Between 41 lbs. and 70 lbs.
Breeds: Bulldog, Labrador, Boxer, Australian Shepherd plus others.
Extra Large Crates
Dog Weight: Between 71 lbs. and 90 lbs.
Breed Examples: Rottweiler, Dalmation, Collie, Golden Retriever plus others.
Dog Weight: 90 lbs. and up
Breed Examples: Great Dane, Mastiff, St. Bernard, Irish Wolfhound plus others.
Training is Always the Answer
At DIY Dog Projects, teaching your dog good behavior is the most important and most rewarding project you can do for and with your dog. We hope this article has helped to inform you about Dog Crates and their uses. But that will only be the first step as you will need to train your dog to become comfortable in his sanctuary. Do not contemplate putting your dog into the dog crate and just taking off. This could do more harm than good. Click on the Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer link below and let him be your guide to dog crate training.