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A dog in a wire crate strapped into a car for ...

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So far, you’ve chosen whether you want a wire or plastic crate for your dog.  You have chosen the correct size crate for your dog.  Now we’re getting started on really crate training your dog.  The goal is to make the crate a place that your dog is comfortable, relaxed, and even wants to visit when he doesn’t have to.

Here is how we’re going to accomplish it:

  • You already have the door of the crate installed and propped open so that it won’t startle your dog.  If you don’t, please do that now.
  • Allow your dog to explore the crate with the door open.  Toss toys or treats inside the crate.  This will encourage him to enter the crate, get the toy and come back out again.  This could take a few minutes to a few days.

You don’t want to close the door to the crate yet.  You want to repeat this exercise until your dog is genuinely comfortable.  He shouldn’t be hesitant entering and exiting the crate.  If your dog is having difficulty getting comfortable start by putting the toy or treat right inside the door to the crate.  As your dog gets more comfortable toss the toy or treat further back into the crate.  Go slowly.  Do not rush this part of the process.

This is very easy to do while watching television, talking on the phone, even reading a book.  Just toss the toy or treat in every few minutes, more often if you like.  Make a game of it if you can.

  • Now that your dog is willing and hopefully even eager to follow the treat into the crate, shut the door for a few seconds.  Remain sitting close to the crate.
  • Build up the time your dog will stay in the crate to one minute.
  • Next mix up shutting the door and not shutting the door so that your dog doesn’t know which one it will be when he follows the treat inside.
  • Ignore your dog when you let him out of his crate so that he doesn’t associate being let out of the crate as being a big deal.  Wait a few more minutes and toss in another treat.
  • Build up the time that your dog is in his crate slowly.  At this point, work up to five minutes with your dog in his crate.

Are you having trouble with your dog barking or wining?  He’s being left in too long.  Wait till he calms down and then let him out.  Do not let him out while he is barking or wining.

Tomorrow I’ll post step three for crate training.  If you have questions, post them.  I’ll do my best to answer you.