How to crate train your dog
It is of great necessity to crate train your dog. You will eventually have to put him in a crate as you can not supervise him 24/7. The crate is the only way to keep him and your furniture safe!
See it as if you are creating a comfortable house or a den for him versus a prison cell.
Start out by tossing his favorite treat into the crate. Preferably not having a blanket in the crate yet as it might be helpful for him to hear the treat hitting the bottom of the crate. You can always catch the ear but not the eye!
Some dogs, especially young ones, have a challenge with focus to follow a flying object in the direction it was thrown in. But they will hear and follow the sound.
If the dog is afraid of the sight of the crate, you will have to toss the treat in front of the crate at a distance where he is not too scared to go and pick it up. Toss closer and closer until he finally has to go inside the crate to get it. Reward small increments!
Once he is in the crate, let him come back out and repeat.
If he stays in the crate start tossing more and more treats rapidly inside the crate. Let him come back out if he wants to.
It can be very helpful if the dog has been conditioned to the Clicker as a marker for behaviors we want from him. You can clearly identify any smallest increment of the behavior of going into the crate.
Going into the crate is a different behavior than staying in it!
Once the dog goes into the crate on his own for the purpose of obtaining reward, it is time to put the behavior on cue.
As we know, cues are learned by hearing them either right before a behavior is about to happen, or during the behavior itself.
Say the cue, for example “Kennel” when you can predict (like placing a bet that will sure win) that the dog will enter the crate.
Hopefully by now he will have experienced that once he is in the crate, treats will fly into it continuously. Thus the “staying inside the crate” is a highly rewarding behavior!
Close the gate while he is still eating treats inside. Once he is done and is still quiet,open the gate and toss some more treats inside. Even if he managed to walk out! – You should be quick enough not to let that happen! The intention is to make an association between “opening the gate” means “treat is coming into the crate”. And not “opening the gate” means “I will get to bust out and obtain highly desired freedom”.
If he is restless inside the crate, it has to be ignored. Yet be ready if there is a moment of silence, to reward with treats being available inside the crate!
You can either open the crate or set up a mechanism to provide the reinforcement.
After all, open the crate gate, toss treats, then say a release cue such as “free” and toss a treat outside the crate.
Once your dog has been crate trained and you leave him in the crate for a period of time. He might get restless or noisy. These behaviors have to absolutely be ignored. Only when he is quiet for a moment, he should be rewarded inside the crate or be let out (which might be most reinforcing!)
Do not come home and let him out immediately. Do not enter the room the crate is placed in and let him out immediately.It would teach him that the mare sight of you means freedom, thus, he will get wild as soon as he sees you. He has to get used to seeing you while in his crate without getting restless. A lot of times owners have a hard time listening to their dog being restless and loud in the crate. They then will let him out! The wrong behavior of course then will ex potentiate when the dog sees him. If the owner already has made this wrong association, he will have to open the crate once he is quiet and calm. Then toss treats into the back of the crate, and then close the crate back up.After a few repetitions, open the crate, toss the treats into the crate.If he then waits for more and he is not “on his way out” anymore, give the release command and toss treats outside of the crate to set him free.
Another important Waring:
Never leave your dog unsupervised in a crate wearing a collar of any kind. Especially not in a wire crate! It has been reported that dogs hung and killed themselves when left in a crate wearing a collar!