Before I adopted my first dog, I read all about how important a crate is. During the housebreaking period, it helps create a den and stops a dog from soiling it. It is a handy way to confine a dog when you can’t watch him or when company is over. If your dog is a little too rowdy, it’s a place for him to calm down. But how is this supposed to work out if your dog or puppy simply hates the crate?
We did everything wrong with my dog- we usually only left him in the crate when we had to leave, and sometimes we forced him into the crate. Sometimes, when we threw a treat in, he would follow. But usually, we could throw five treats in and he wouldn’t go anywhere near the crate- surprising, as he is a beagle and lives for food. Then we found out what we were doing wrong and how to fix it.
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- Many dogs dislike the crate because it means seperation from you, his pack. Once he goes in the crate, he isn’t petted, but once he comes out, he is. This can easily be fixed. First, spend time in the same room where your dog’s crate is while he is inside. When you let your dog out, don’t pet him right away so he doesn’t associate a release from the crate with affection. Rather, let him walk around a bit or go outside before petting and praising.
- Never force your dog into the crate, either lure him in or let him go in on his own.
- Some dogs don’t like going into their crate because it’s a hard, uncomfortable surface. Add a thick blanket, some old towels or a dog bed (sprayed with Bitter Apple if your dog might chew it up). Put a Kong or another chew toy inside- but don’t put too many in so the space isn’t cramped. You may want to have a special toy that your dog gets only in the crate.
- Reward your dog for walking into the crate. Have him sit in the crate and give him some treats one at a time- be generous! Then progress to a down in the crate and very generously reward that by giving many treats one by one. This will show your dog that lying down in the crate is very good! Using an especially desirable treat, such as a piece of chicken, apple (without the skin), or carrot will make the crate a more desirable place.
- If your dog is very food motivated, this last method will definitely work wonders. Simply feed your dog in the crate! Adding some extra bits of chicken or other tasty treats will definitely help. This is what made the biggest difference with my dog. Now he often walks into the crate on his to lie down and sleep!
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