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Crate training 101 please

(12 Posts)
butterfliesinmytummy Sat 07-Sep-13 14:55:49

We got our 11 week old dalmation x from the dog shelter a week ago and we want to crate train her. We bought a crate when she came home and put it in a corner of the living room. We feed her treats in it and she will go in when we ask, with the door open, and her favourite toys in there, but normally is out after 2 minutes. We give her lots of calm praise when she goes in but what's the next stage? I read that we should be feeding her in the crate, which we can do. I also read that people shut their dogs in and let them "cry it out". Our dog came from a not very nice cage at the shelter and was shaking and nervous in it so I am reluctant to replicate that for her. Do we shut her in and get it over with or do we build up the time she spends in there, opening it before she gets upset?

She's gaining in confidence and doesn't cry at night although we are in an open plan house so we can't shut her in the kitchen so she probably sleeps fine on the sofa. She starting going outside a couple of days ago so we have very few accidents in the house although I will probably need to do a 2am pee run with her if she's crated at night.

Please doggy people, what's the best way to crate train?

YouveCatToBeKittenMe Sat 07-Sep-13 15:03:36

My method will probably not be what most dog owners do, but with all the puppies I have had I have put them in the crate at bed time, shut the door and left them till morning <harsh owner>

They usually make a hell of a fuss for 2 nights and then silence.
I then leave the crate open all day, and shut them in if I go out to the shops etc.

I always feed them in the crate and usually offer them a titbit when they need to go in. I got to the point with my most recent puppy that as soon as i picked up my car keys he ran into his crate and sat down!

I'm quite lucky in that I have older dogs (who I also did this with) and at night the puppy could see that they settled down as soon as the lights went out and the door shut.

I got rid of the crate altogether at about 4-5 months I think, although he is still a bit naughty and chews if he can reach anything whilst we're out.

Good luck with your pup

Spider7 Sat 07-Sep-13 15:21:24

I find that the tips outlined above are more than enough to get most puppies comfortable in their crates. If you are having trouble with a difficult or nervous pup try this puppy crate training exercise to shape the desired behavior.
Place the crate in an area where you and your puppy spend time together - leave the crate door open.
Any time your puppy shows any interest in the crate (like a look) praise him/her and throw him a tasty treat. Repeat this over and over.
You'll find that your puppy soon becomes very interested in his crate. This step asks more of your puppy. Don't praise and treat only a glance at the crate now, wait until your pup walks over towards the crate, then enthusiastically praise and reward with a treat.
Repeat Step 3 many times and then make it harder again for your puppy to earn a treat. Hold off with your praise and treats until your puppy actually steps in the crate now. Repetition and reinforcing the desired behavior is the key.
Now your pup should be popping in and out of the crate to work for his treats. Now you hold off with your praise and treats until your puppy goes into the crate and sits down.
The final step is to have your puppy step inside the crate, sit down and then you will close the crate door (only for a few seconds to start with) and feed some treats through the door.
Attach a cue word to this process such as "bedtime" or "go to crate". Say your cue word every time your puppy steps inside the crate - he will soon associate the word with the act of getting in to the crate.

Stick with it, patience is the key. My dog loves her crate & will often take herself there for some quite time two years on from bringing it home. Never use it as a punishment,but can use it for time out. Ie don't tell him off when putting in there but if you've decided time out is needed just pop him in there without a word. Though with my girli just need to say crate! & off she goes! Best way to toilet train as well.

moosemama Sat 07-Sep-13 15:25:03

First of all, if she already sleeps loose with no problems and you are happy with that, do you actually need a crate? Not everybody does and as long as you can ensure the room she's left in is adequately dog-proofed so that she can't injure herself or swallow things she shouldn't be eating there's no reason for you to have one just because other people do or tell you that you should.

If you do want her to have one, perhaps so you can contain her safely during the teething phase or you'd like her to be comfortable in a crate for travelling and vet stays, then definitely build up the time she spends in there very slowly and always make it rewarding. By putting in the time and effort now, you will have a calm, happy, relaxed dog at times when she may need to be crated in future.

You're doing everything right in terms of feeding her and giving her treats in there. As you treat her, gradually withhold the treat for longer and longer, starting with a few seconds and building up, so that you are rewarding her for choosing to stay in there, instead of just going inside. Then you can start closing the door, treating, then immediately opening it and do the same, gradually building up the time the door is closed for.

Once she's happy in there you can start giving her tasty chews, stuffed kongs and treat dispensing balls/toys in there to keep her attention build positive associations on being in there with the door closed and build up the length of time she's happy to be left in there. (Tip, don't give her those kongs/chews/toys at any other time than when she's in the crate with the door shut, as then they will be something she looks forward to getting and will therefore encourage her to actually look forward to going in the crate.)

I used a method very similar to this video for getting my pup used to his crate. He loves it from the off for naps and playing with his toys, but only if the door was open. hmm Now I can do the school run (20 minutes to half an hour) leaving him with a couple of loosely stuffed kongs and a treat toy and he doesn't even notice I'm gone. He also sleeps in there overnight, from 10.30 till 6.00 ish quite happily.

butterfliesinmytummy Sat 07-Sep-13 19:18:07

Thanks everyone.

youvecattobekittenme I love your name and I wish I had the guts to crate train your way. She'd probably be OK but I'm too worried that she would hate it I wouldn't ever be able to crate her.

Spider7 I think we'll do it the way you described. She will sit in the crate so it's a good point to delay the reward and just reward her for staying in there rather than going in. The kids start at school on Monday so I will have lots of quiet time to concentrate on starting this and eventually closing the door.

Moosemama actually she's pretty good at the moment, the house doesn't have much chewable stuff that she's picked up on, she's not rampaging round the house during the night, doesn't come upstairs and makes no noise. We just came home and found her curled round DH's shoe but apart from that (and we should be careful about what we leave out), I'm wondering is she does need crating at all. We had a friend round last night for dinner and after a bit of a sniff of him and a wag, she was completely disinterested. She doesn't bounce up to us when we come home, she's pretty calm. I think we are looking at a crate as much for her to have her own space as to keep her out of mischief or house train her.

I think we'll proceed slowly with the crate as you have suggested and see where it takes us.

idirdog Sat 07-Sep-13 21:01:57

Google Susan Garretts crate games - you will have a fun happy dog that just loves his crate.


moosemama Sat 07-Sep-13 21:34:40

Oh my goodness idir, the dog in those videos, Zelda, looks, moves and behaves so much like my new pup. smile

They were really good - off to watch some more now. smile

moosemama Sat 07-Sep-13 21:49:37

Just looked at her, then him and realised she doesn't so much look like him as there's just something about her that is sooo him.

I see she's an Italian Greyhound, maybe that's it, as when Pip came to us he was emaciated and so small and delicate. He's gained weight since though and doesn't look quite so breakable now. smile

Cheddars Sun 08-Sep-13 23:14:19

This seems like a good place to ask should you leave a bowl of water in the crate? I'm getting CheddarPup in a couple of weeks and this is my 1st time with a crate.

butterfliesinmytummy Mon 09-Sep-13 01:50:08

I was wondering too Cheddars - you need to leave water obviously but I know Luna will step in hers or tip it over - can you get bottles or water feeders like you can for guinea pigs? Do dogs know how to use them?

Love the videos idirdog, still persevering with the crate, Luna is now eating meals in there and slept in there last night or assume she did (left her in with the crate open and she was still in there in the morning, door still open). Will concentrate more on crate training this week.

basildonbond Mon 09-Sep-13 07:52:26

We have a coop cup to fix to the side of the crate so puppy can't knock it over (that's the theory anyway .. Puppy arriving on Friday eek so will let you know if it works!)

moosemama Mon 09-Sep-13 16:31:18

We found Road Refresher type water bowls the best, as they only release a small amount of water at a time, so even if they do tip it up there's not too much mess.

I find they're better than the standard no-spill bowls that just have a normal opening with a lip around them like this or this.

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