Crate Training Games For Your Dog
Crate Training Games For Your Dog
(video credit: Pam’s Dog Academy in California)
I get a lot of questions about how to improve a dog or puppy’s crate training and it always takes me back to making sure the crate is fun!
I also understand the importance of actually utilizing the crate for safety.
Many dogs die from ingesting things that they should not, or dig or jump out of their yards only to be hit by cars.
In essence, it is absolutely best if you can shape your dog or puppy going into and then learning to stay in his crate. Making it possible for the dog to earn treats and reward for this behavior and not forcing the dog into the crate. If you’re interested in learning how to do that, you should check out my Hands Off course.
However, I live in the real world.
Although I have had years of my life where I didn’t have to work; there was always a time where it was inappropriate for my dog or puppy to be running loose in the house.
I may have to get puppy supplies, or I may need to crate my puppy on night one so he doesn’t create the bad habit of sleeping outside the crate, injure himself, or eat my flooring or drywall (yes I have seen and have had dogs that do this).
In my opinion, it is all about finding the right balance.
If I always shut my dog in his crate for long periods of time when I am gone, he is undoubtedly going to learn to hate his crate.
At best, he will slowly learn to tolerate it.
If however I spend more time shaping my dog’s fun interaction with his crate and playing games with it, then I can override the more negative times he is forced to stay inside with the happy times he is learning to like his crate!
Shaping Crate Training Using Games
First You Will Need
Things to make the crate inviting
- A soft bed
- Some new toys.
You DO NOT have to leave these in the crate when you are not training (this may not be safe, because the dog or puppy may shred or potentially ingest them). But it certainly makes a crate less scary and more inviting.
High Value Treats
Click and treat for any interaction with the crate from looking at the crate to putting a body part inside.
Remember to work at your dog’s pace and slowly raise the criteria. If you move too quickly he may become overwhelmed or lose interest.
Yes, crate him for looking at the crate!
Next slowly change the criteria and click and treat him for
- Putting his full body in the crate
- Sitting in the crate
- Laying down in the crate
- Choosing to stay in the crate
Close door and latch (click and treat)
Close door latch walk away (click and treat)
Release and reward the dog at intermittent times
If dog tries to lunge through door, latch and wait.
Only staying inside receives reward.
Reward can come from back of crate to keep dog from wanting to forge through.
For example if my dog wants to race out when I open the door, I simply refuse to reward. Instead I hold the reward near the end of the crate, while I open the door. If the dog stays inside he will get a jack pot.
Other Crate Training Games
I make “Race to Your Crate” rewarding.
My dogs and I have this game, after I have shaped crate training, where I teach them to race into their crates on command.
At my house, I say “Let’s go to bed!” and we have a race for them to get in their crates.
As mentioned earlier, I don’t often even shut the door. Sometimes I simply throw a treat or toy into their crate and then carry on about my day.
Again in order for the dog to find this behavior rewarding, he must not always be locked in after he plays!
I also making tossing toys into the crate a game.
My dogs love nothing more than toys and any game that revolves around toys, so by integrating their crate into games, I help to endear their crates to them.
I toss toys inside for them to go and gather, and I also hide toys in their crates so that they can make fun discoveries inside.
In my opinion, there is no better way to help your dog enjoy his crate, than to hide a brand new toy inside!
It is all about finding fun in your dog’s crate training.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.