Top 5 Reasons Your Dog Won’t Crate Train
I get a lot of questions either asked of me in person, online, via email etc.
And one of my biggest fixes for many things is utilizing a crate.
Crates help with potty training, they help with chewing, they help give your dog a haven when he needs to get away and they help to give you some sanity when you need a break from watching your puppy or dog.
They also keep you safe in your car, and allow you to stay in motels that otherwise don’t allow dogs.
In addition, they can keep friends and family happy when you visit; since they know your dog will be taken care of and well behaved at their home.
But one of the most common responses after I suggest crate training is:
“My dog won’t crate train” or “My dog hates the crate”
And, mostly likely either way; you are simply Doing It Wrong. And if you’d like to see how I’d do that RIGHT, I made these videos.
And, by doing it wrong you are allowing your dog to choose whether or not he wants to be in a crate; and let me tell you that in the beginning 96% of dogs would choose to skip the crate training even though they will also be happier in the end if they learn to love a crate.
Here are the top 5 reasons you think your dog won’t crate train:
You Only Crate Him When You Leave
You only crate your dog when you leave.
Think about this, crating becomes a precursor to what he hates the most… being separated from you.
Even if you crate him at night and then again only when you leave he begins to associate the two things… Plus chances are he is spending large amounts of time in his crate.
He needs to understand that he may only be in his crate for 15 minutes or less if he is good and quiet and you can’t always offer that to him when you leave.
In order to have successful crate training you must do it occasionally during the day while you are home.
And, in the beginning you need to do it several times a day in order to teach him and play with him appropriately in the crate.
The crate isn’t some kind of torture to be dealt when you leave, it needs to be his safe place and his house; but in order for him to think his house is cool he needs you to be around, needs to know he can be let out after short durations and needs to know you are not always going to leave him alone in his crate.
You Let Him Out When He Screams
You let him out when he screams, it is pretty simple if you think about it.
Trust me I understand; it is hard to listen to your puppy or your favorite furry family member scream or throw a fit. No one likes it!
But by letting him out when he screams or barks you are teaching him to scream and bark in his crate and this is counter intuitive to having a well behaved and crate trained dog.
Like many parents believe older babies (not tiny babies) need to get used to crying themselves to sleep and soothing themselves; so does your puppy or your dog.
He needs to understand he isn’t going to die when you put him in his crate and if you let him out when he squawks he is never going to overcome his fear or dislike of his crate.
And, in order to be let out, he needs to learn that being quiet in his kennel is what you want.
So if you are in the beginning stages of crate training then remember to let him out a few seconds after he is quiet.
HINT: If you tire him out by playing with him before you leave put him in his crate, he won’t scream as long, he will be tired so he will learn to nap in his crate.
I always exhaust my puppies before I put them in their crates so they learn to sleep when they are in there. They are way too tired to scream for more than a minute or two. Even if you have to get up an hour early or stay up a little later, make sure you put a tired puppy in the crate.
For more on crate barking click here.
You Never Played Games with His Crate
You never played games in his crate with him, don’t worry most people don’t know this trick.
In order for your dog or your puppy to learn the true “gift” and “joy” of a crate he needs to have happy moments in there, not just barking and screaming himself to sleep.
You need to teach him that being in his crate is fun and that comes with crate interaction.
To learn more about crate games read The Joys of Crate Training
95% of the time I give my dog a big, magnificent cookie when they go in their crates, plus I often feed them in their crates so they run into their crates at least twice a day thinking they are going to get a great reward.
This helps to change the association with the crate from bad to good.
Heck I might consider going into a crate if someone gave me a brownie or a bag of Cheetos every time 😉
You Locked Him in it With No Training
You locked him in his crate with no training or as mentioned earlier, no crate games.
Dogs need to learn how to control their environment to be successful and to be happy and for them to do that or feel like they can do that you need to teach them what you want or trick them into doing what YOU want them to do (otherwise they are training you).
For example, if you want your dog to enjoy his crate and learn to control when he is in it you must teach him that when he is quiet he can get out of his crate. If you only close him in his crate when you leave and let him out when you come home you aren’t teaching him anything but to dislike his confined space when you are gone.
Training requires you to be home and for him to be in his crate for short durations as long as he is quiet.
As with anything, crate training takes time and effort. In order to set your dog up for success, you must spend time training.
Spend time working on it several times during the day so you can change the way he feels about his crate and he learns to be quiet and take peaceful naps in there.
You Rarely Use It
The other reason that a lot of dogs are not successful with crate training is because many people rarely use it.
People stay home with their dogs during the day or they put them in baby gated rooms because they think the dog likes that better (but dogs are den animals) and rarely get crated.
Or as the dog gets older the people move from using a crate to leaving the dog out in the house during the day; and so the crate is rarely used.
In order for a dog to stay current with his crate training, you have to do it periodically.
Even though 2 out of 3 of my dogs are able to stay loose in the house when I leave, I still occasionally put them in their crates.
I never know when I might need to train or go somewhere that they will need to be crated, so it is in my best interests and theirs to keep them up to date with their crates and their 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.