Friday, February 10, 2012

Weekly Wag #7:
Make Crate Time Great Time

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
© C Boyko
Don't Bother Me. I'm Comfortable!
Raising your dog to love his crate is definitely at the root of a worry-free pet home. Not only is your dog safer, into less trouble, cleaner (fewer accidents, if any), and more secure, he's also that much more happy to see you when you return. We all know this is the most wonderful time--returning home to a happy pup.

Teaching a cue for going to his crate makes this activity even more special. It gives you the opportunity to reward the behavior you have requested, while Fido does the job of placing himself there, rather than you. 

Teach your command for going to the crate (we use "Go Nite-Nite") by offering the command as Fido enters the crate. Praise and offer a treat as a regular part of this exercise. If you have a pup with a bit of separation anxiety, here's a tip for dealing with the 10 seconds while you depart:
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  • Use very small training treats. Give Fido one for entering his crate and then ask him to "Down".
  • While he waits, place several of the small training treats in hiding spaces around the inside of his crate, under his bed, pushed under a blanket (Oliver loves his PetStages Mini Nesting Mat for rooting in, and it is perfect for hiding treats) or into corners of his bedding. This will occupy him while you make your departure.
  • By the time he has located and eaten each hidden treat, you are gone and Fido is satisfied with his successful mental activity. Rest will often follow.
  • If you plan to be away for several hours, leaving a frozen Kong can be a good time-passer for your dog. I highly recommend you observe his behavior with a Kong before using this "busy box" activity while gone. Know your dog's chewing behavior and be as certain as possible that he is safely occupied. Kongs can be filled with a variety of tasty treats in layers, to keep the mental activity going  and as much fun as possible: plain yogurt, grated cheese, kibble, apples (peeled), canned dog food, fat free cottage cheese, mashed sweet potatoes, leftover bite-sized pieces of boned meat (cleaned of fat), bananas, shredded carrots, even a dab of peanut better, etc.
  • When you return, open the crate door when your pup is quiet and calm. Praise for this behavior and treat again when you get it. Have an "I'm home!" party (a ritual of belly rubs or a fun game that you and fido enjoy together) to celebrate. This habit will grow and with time, Fido will bolt to his crate, just as Oliver does. This will become an enjoyable activity for him, with many rewards, most notably, his and your home's safety.

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This post is part of the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop hosted by Life with DogsTwo Little Cavaliers, and Confessions of the Plume. You are welcome to link up here, or check any of their sites for their rules of participation. Happy hopping!


When I Grow Up I Want to be a Vet said...

If all of my clients would take your advice on helping their dogs love their kennel, they would be happier, their dogs would be happier, and I bet I would see far fewer gastric and intestinal foreign bodies, tummy aches, separation anxiety issues...and I would be happier then too!

Rumpydog said...

I know some people are adamant about not using a crate because they think it's cruel. But with proper training like you suggest, it's far from it. The key is for the human to remember the crate is never to be used as punishment!

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

@Rumpydog: Excellent point that I neglected to mention. I hope everyone reads your comment! Thank you.

Bassetmomma said...

Great post!

browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

My crate is my special place. I can also go in there when I don't want to do something. When I do, my Humans take that as my "final word" and leave me alone.

Y'all come by now,
Hawk aka BrownDog

Lisa said...

Great suggestions. Having your dog stay in his crate for brief periods even when you are home can also help to ease anxiety. If he looks at his crate as a place he's in only when you are gone it can cause some stress.

Thanks for posting this!

Katie said...

Thanks, I got my girls both a crate and trying to get them to enjoy them, I bought a crate for Molly initially because she was having ancidents when I first got her, and Roxy took it over before I was able to get Molly to like it, so I bought aother, Roxy goesin her crate whenever she was being bad she will go in her crate for a few minutes and I notice olly going in the crate whenever she is nervous, before I had them liking the crates my sister put Molly in Roxys cvrate because the girls were fighting and she tore up Roxy's bed, so I hav been trying to make it a fun experience for them

Unbreakable Dog said...

Thanks a lot for the tips. My dog really hasn't been much of a crate lover, but I will try to get him to be a little more relaxed about it.

cdmtx said...

great tips ! i was never able to crate YoYo as he was rescued out of a Ferret Cage ~ can't blame the little guy ...

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