Selecting a Crate:
There are two common styles of crates, wire and plastic. Generally wire is preferred because it feels more open for the dogs. They also collapse easily and fold flat which makes travel and storage extremely convenient. Some dogs, however, can easily bend the wires and collapse the crate and free themselves. For escape artists, sturdy and well made plastic crates are often more secure.
Size matters when selecting the appropriate crate. Puppies should only have enough room to stand up and turn around comfortably. If the crate is too large, puppies will urinate/defecate in one portion of the crate, and sleep in the other, which is detrimental to house training (and messy!). When selecting a crate for adult dogs, the bigger the better in crate size.
Dogs should never be forced into a crate. This will create a negative association with the crate and may scare your dog. Use high drive rewards and treats for crate training. For dogs that have no issues with the crate, toss the treat into the back of the kennel and as the dog steps into the crate, say “crate” or “kennel” or word of choice, and allow the dog to walk all the way in before closing the door. If your dog is apprehensive of the crate, make a trail of treats from outside the kennel to the back and the most important thing is to be patient. Some dogs take 5-10 minutes to walk into a crate, so make sure to plan for this accordingly before you leave the house so you aren’t rushed and forced to shove the dog in. It is normal for dogs to cry in the crate, sometimes for up to an hour (although most dogs only cry for 5-10 minutes). Do not acknowledge your dog while crying. They will eventually stop, and lie down and rest. Only let your dog out of the crate when they are being calm and quiet. The only time it is ok to intervene and correct the dog in the crate is if you can hear the dog trying to break out or chew the bars.
When you first get your new dog, it is important to have the dog sleep in the crate, and stay in the crate while you are home from time to time as well as when you are gone. By crating the dog while you are home, for instance while you shower, cook dinner, etc. the dog will not just associate the crate with you leaving. Crating your new dog overnight is also a very important way to associate sleeping and rest with the crate, which will eventually teach your dog to sleep in the crate while you are gone at work or away from the home.
Leaving toys/bones in the crate is ok, but they must be safe items. Anything that your dog can destroy and/or swallow is dangerous. Kongs, Nyla Bones, and deer antlers are some safe options. The Kongs are especially nice because you can stuff the toy with treats, peanut butter, or any other favorite treat. They are also dishwasher safe so they can be cleaned as needed.
B.S. Animal Science
AKC CGC Certified Evaluator, Selected Mentor Trainer for Animal Behavior College, APDT Full Member