Crate Training: Introducing the Crate

My dog Ellie is truly my sidekick. She comes to work with me daily, she cuddles with me at home, and we go hiking together. Because we spend so much time together, she has a small case of separation anxiety, something with which I’m sure you’re all familiar.

A few months ago, I began to crate train her so that she would have her own ‘room’ and so that she would stop scratching at my front door. I had gotten her about 90% trained. (100% would be that she is perfect in her crate every time that I leave her there, but she would occasionally chew off a piece of the blanket that covers it.)
But then I moved.
Now, it almost feels as though I have to start over completely. So I wanted to share my experiences with you in the hopes of offering advice to others who are going through the same thing.

Introducing your dog to his crate
With a new puppy or a dog that has never seen a crate, you will need to take baby steps to get him used to it. Ellie absolutely would not go in the crate when I first got it. Starting out slowly, I:

  1. Put treats outside of the crate. Get your dog used to this new big thing that is in his house.
  2. Put treats inside the crate, just inside the door. They don’t have to go all the way inside to get the treats, and get used to poking their head inside.
  3. Gradually move the treats further back.
  4. If your dog is still nervous about entering the crate, lay in there with him! Of course, this only works for owners of larger dogs, but it really helped Ellie become comfortable of the idea of staying in there.
  5. Feed meals in the crate. Put the food bowl at the back of the crate so that your dog has to be completely inside the crate to eat.

It’s very important not to shut the door during all of these steps. We are just trying to get them used to the idea of the crate and will work on locking them in later.

Got other tips to add? Leave a comment!

More to come next week!

About Stacy @Trupanion

Stacy Kowalchuk is a dog mom to her rescued Whippet-mix, Ellie. During the week, you can find Stacy surfing (the internet, that is) and managing Trupanion's presence in the social media world. In her free time, Stacy likes to bake, especially cupcakes! To balance her culinary affinity, she also likes to stay active, especially with activities that include her dog such as hiking and going to dog parks.

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