How Do I Crate Train My Dog?
Many people say "Mark, my dog hates being in the crate. What should I do?" or "Mark, I can't get my dog to go into it's kennel no matter how hard I try." So I have decided to write up a post in order to help those of you who are struggling with these very same issues. Not only will I explain how you should do it, but I will also explain why.
First and foremost understand that your puppy is a den animal and bringing them home to a crate should be a replacement for their den. While your dog may not like their new den at first it is to be expected that they may howl, whine, bark, or tear at the crate through the night. Unfortunately this can be a heartbreaking time for a new puppy owner who wants to comfort them, however understand that walking up to your dog in the crate and talking to them may quiet your dog for a moment, but will actually teach your dog that crying and howling are effective ways to get your attention and/or get out of the crate.
In order to speed up the process of acclimation to it I will give some general tips and advice. For starters make sure to place the crate in a high traffic area such as your kitchen or living room so that your dog can view their home and be near your family, making it less stressful on them. Always and I repeat always make going into the crate a positive thing! Encourage your dog to go in on their own and praise them for doing so, giving them some type of reward such as a treat can help them see the crate as a source of good things.
While in the crate give the dog some toys or games to keep busy so that they have something to distract them from being caged. Having some type of audio on for them can also help relax them, whether it is talk radio, calm music, or even dog videos can help.
Last but not least, never use the crate as a form of punishment. This will lead to your dog viewing the crate in a negative way and they will start to hate going in or being directed over to it. Even if you are mad at them, still make it a positive thing for your dog to go in. Saying "I can't stand you right now" or "You make me so angry", in a sweet encouraging voice can help you vent your frustration while still getting the dog to happily go into it's crate.