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Why Crate Train Your Dog?

(continued)

How to Crate Train Your Dog: The Weekend Plan continued...

If your dog seems nervous about going into the crate or confused about what she’s supposed to do when you say the cue, go back and practice Step One for a while longer. When your dog confidently rushes into the crate to get her treat, you can try Step Two again.

Saturday Afternoon: Close the Crate Door

Now it’s time to get your dog used to being in the crate with the door closed.

  1. To warm up, do a couple of repetitions just like you did before. Say “Go to bed,” point to the crate, reward your dog with a treat when she goes in and then say “Okay” to let her know she can come out.
  2. Now you’ll try closing the crate door for just a moment. Give your cue “Go to bed” and point to the crate.
  3. When your dog goes in the crate, praise her and immediately give her a treat. Then gently close the crate door. (You don’t have to latch it yet.) Feed your dog two or three treats through the closed crate door and continue to praise her while she’s in the crate.
  4. Say “Okay” and open the crate door to let your dog come out. (If your dog seems stressed or panicked with the door briefly closed, break down this exercise into two phases: in the first phase, just close the door halfway, give a treat and release your dog; in the second phase, close the door all the way.)

Do 10 repetitions and then take a break for a minute or two. Then repeat the exercise 10 more times, slowly building up the time your dog stays in the crate with the door closed. As you increase the time, throw in some easy repetitions, too. Start with 1 second, then increase to 5. Try 8 seconds, then go back to 3. Increase to 10 seconds, then 15, then 20, then an easy 5. Continue to generously reward your dog whenever she’s in the crate. After you finish your second set of 10 repetitions, take a half-hour break. Then repeat the exercise again. Over the afternoon, try to build up to having your dog stay in the crate for one minute.

Saturday Evening: Introduction to Alone Time

When your dog is used to hanging out in her crate with the door closed while you sit nearby, you can move on to the next step: leaving her alone for a little while. Repeat the exercise you’ve been practicing, just as it’s described above-but this time, latch the crate door and start to move away from the crate.

  1. To warm up, do a couple of repetitions like you did in the afternoon. Sit on the floor or in a chair next to your dog’s crate. Say “Go to bed” and point to the crate. When your dog goes in, close the crate door and reward her with a few treats while she stays in the crate. After about 30 seconds, say “Okay” and open the crate door to let your dog out.
  2. Now you’ll close the crate door briefly. Say your cue, “Go to bed,” and point to the crate. When your dog goes in, close and latch the crate door, and then give her a treat.
  3. Stand up and give your dog another treat. Take a few steps away from the crate and then return to give your dog a treat.
  4. Say “Okay” and open the crate door to let your dog come out.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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