How crates can be used when training a dog?

Crates are incredibly useful tools for dog training – but we often forget that they’re an option. If your crate is gathering dust now that your puppy is potty trained, you might be under-using it. Crate training can be used as part of the training plan for many common behavior problems. Issues like jumping on guests or growling around the food bowl are perfect examples.

Of course, it’s always important to make sure that your dog is getting plenty of time out of the crate with the family. If your dog is already being crated while you’re at work and overnight, you might not want to add any more crating to his routine until he’s trustworthy at night. Also, consider using baby gates or exercise pens to gradually give him more freedom.

dogs in crates in back of SUV for safety.
IG: @packofrescues

Benefits of Dog Training with a Dog Crate

Helps with potty training.

Many puppies – unless they come from pet stores or puppy mills – naturally try to avoid soiling themselves. This means that, within reason, you can use a crate to help teach your puppy to “hold it.” You still need to take your puppy outdoors frequently (think every hour or even more often at first). Reward your pup for peeing outdoors. However, crate training is a very useful crutch for teaching your pup that holding it is important.

Avoids chewing problems

If your puppy can’t access your shoes, walls, pillows, and cords when he’s in primo teething age (before about 9 months old), he’s unlikely to build bad habits. By leaving your puppy in a crate or exercise pen when he’s unattended but always giving him plenty of his own toys and treats to gnaw on, he’ll quickly learn what to chew on.

Prevents bad behavior with guests.

If your dog likes to jump on guests, bark at them, or even is nervous of them, a crate might be able to help. The extra space given with a crate allows you to toss treats at your dog for micro-seconds of good behavior. Even a moment between barks can be rewarded. Your dog will quickly learn to quiet down and be more polite with guests. Once your pup is calm, you can let her out of the crate to greet guests (if that’s what she wants and she’s not scared of them).

Mitigates resource guarding.

Many dogs don’t like it when we come too close to their food or chewies. That’s totally normal and often comes from insecurity (not dominance). Feeding your dog in her crate, then allowing her to exit the crate when she’s done, can be a helpful component of your treatment plan. You can also use a crate for safety during the actual training. If your dog tends to growl when you walk past, you can simply put her in a crate. Walk past at a bit further of a distance (you don’t want to provoke her). Next, toss extra treats into her crate. This will help teach her that you coming near her food actually makes more food! The crate is a key safety tool here.

Reduce aggression between household pets.

Whether it’s a pair of dogs or a dog-cat duo, crates are helpful safety tools for treating more serious aggression issues. This should only be done under the guidance of a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, or Veterinary Behaviorist – not just a local obedience trainer. You can use the crates to help avoid further aggression. Also. it can be a way to keep one pet stationary while you train the other.

Two large dogs in a large crate laying next to each other on blankets with crate door open.
@connorlipke

Crates can be incredibly helpful as training tools. Thinking inside the crate can really help you solve a lot of behavior concerns. Just be sure to have a plan for how you’ll meet your dog’s exercise and enrichment 

Find more training tips for your pet here.

Author

Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant from Colorado. She has spent most of her adult life training troublesome dogs in shelters, private settings, and online. She owns Journey Dog Training, an online pet behavior help service that focuses on helping people around the world with their pets. Kayla loves working with tricky dogs almost as much as she loves hiking, running, and skiing with her Border Collie, Barley. You can learn more about Kayla and explore her training programs at JourneyDogTraining.com or by following Journey Dog Training on YouTube and Facebook.

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