Before I crate trained Nala, I always thought it was a cruel thing to do. I mean, to put your puppy in a small, confined space while you are out of the house? If I wouldn’t want something like that, why would my dog?
Well, turns out, dogs are not the same as people (wait… what?). That’s right, they really don’t think like we do, and mostly don’t act like we do, therefore we cannot expect them to like or dislike the same things as us.
Photo Credit: Alan Levine
Most dogs actually enjoy having a crate when they are properly trained. If you have started crate training, and have run into problems like whining, barking, or a plethora of other things making you question the crate, read on! Here are some bits of information that might help you. Here are the 8 crate training mistakes owners make.
1. Giving Into The Whining
Let’s throw a bone to the ones who have already started crate training, and are having a tough time with it. Is your dog whimpering and whining to be let out of the cage? It is super important to not give in to this. I know it is tough, but you have to stay strong!
Giving in actually trains your dog that when they don’t want to do something, whining is an acceptable solution.
2. Crating Your Dog For Too Long
The maximum time you would want to crate your dog during the day is 8 hours. If you know you are going to be late from work, or have prior engagements, you can either stop in and give them a break, or skip those days. As much as your dog may become accustomed to its crate, avoid leaving them in there for extreme amounts of time.
For night time crating, once your dog is fully trained in the crate and has been adequately exercised (we’ll get to this later), the dog will most likely sleep through the night in their crate. This is as long as the next mistake is avoided.
3. Not Making Their Crate Comfortable
Helping your dog become accustomed to their crate means to make it as comfortable and homey as possible. In terms of size of the crate, you should purchase one that is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in.
**Money Saving Tip**: Most people only buy a crate one time, so you want to plan for how big your dog will be when fully grown. That way, you don’t have to buy a bigger one a couple years down the line!
A nice fluffy dog bed with some extra blankets in there, and your dog will feel so comfortable they will go in there to relax even when the door is open.
4. Not Feeding In The Crate
Fun Fact: Positive association is crucial to dogs learning and becoming accustomed to anything new. Another fun fact? Dogs LOVE food! Create positive vibes by feeding your dog in the crate, and make your life that much easier. Good routines are super helpful when it comes to training, and this is probably one of the best ways to associate positivity with your dog and its crate.
5. Using The Crate For Punishment
When crate training, the more positive things your dog can associate with its crate, the better. It may not be something you plan on doing, but sending them to their crate in a moment when you don’t know what to do will cross your mind. The long term effects of doing this are your dog now associates its crate with punishment instead of positivity. If this starts to happen, your dog will not really enjoy going into their crate, and you’ll have to start the process all over again.
6. Forcing Your Dog Into Its Crate
Sometimes, we as owners have a tough time figuring out how to communicate what we would like our dogs to do. If only we could tell them what we want with out words the first time around. Dogs rely more on actions and positive reinforcement, so grabbing your dog’s collar and putting them in the crate might not be the best way to start this out.
Try enticing your dog into their crate with something long lasting, like a bone or a Kong filled with peanut butter! That way, they focus more on the treat in front of them, while spending a lot of time in the crate with the door open. The more things like this you do to show your dog their crate is a comfortable and safe space, the better.
7. Hitting The Crate
Training a dog can be frustrating sometimes. One day they are listening well, the other it seems they are doing just the opposite of what you want to get the hair on the back of your neck to stick up.
One thing you never want to do is hit the cage to get your dog to stop what they are doing. It is another example of negative association, and it can be pretty scary for the dog when they are in that small space with no escape.
8. Not Exercising Your Dog Enough
This is one of those mistakes owners make that actually affect every part of your dog’s life. When dogs cannot get their energy out, whether mentally or physically, it can make them anxious or uncomfortable. Tuckering your dog out on a regular basis will make them happier, and even enjoy getting into their crate for some rest and relaxation.
Check out 6 Ways To Bond With Your Dog for a more in depth look at this!
Wrapping It Up
Crate training your dog is not the easiest thing to do, but avoiding these common mistakes can make it much easier. Dedicate the proper amount of time, and treats, to crate training your dog, and you will see improvements daily. Soon enough, your dog will want to be in there even when the door is open just to hang out!
Have any other suggestions when it comes to crate training your dog? Be sure to email us and let us know!