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When you talk to other owners about their experiences of crate training a dog, you will typically get one of two very different responses.

Many will smile and tell you how crate training is the best thing they ever did for their dog. Others will frown and recite stories of how their dog didn’t like crate training, and how they felt like they were leading their dog to jail whenever he had to go into one.

Nobody want’s their dog to feel that the crate is a jail. So, how do you crate train your dog to love their crate and see it as their own special den where they can be safe and secure?

Introducing Your Dog To The Crate

To successfully crate train your dog, you’ll need to introduce him to the crate very slowly.

The first few times, put your dogs’ lead on and walk him up to the crate. With a loose lead, let him walk around the crate, sniff, and inspect it. If he needs some encouragement, put some treats out for him in front of the crate door. All the time, talk softly to your dog giving him encouragement and tell him what a good boy he is.

Encouraging Your Dog Inside

When your dog is happy with the crate being there, encourage him to go into it. Build his confidence by placing treats inside the crate, playing games of fetch such that he has to go into the crate to retrieve the object, and by feeding him meals whilst he is inside.

When your dog is confident being inside, you can shut the crate door. The first few times, shut the crate door only for a few seconds, and then open it again. Then, like before, gradually increase the amount of time the door is closed.

Leaving Your Dog Alone In The Crate

Now that your dog will go into the crate, and stay in it for sometime with the door shut, you can start to leave him alone. As before, build up the time you are away gradually.

The first time you leave him, just walk out the room and then come back in again a few seconds later. Then slowly increase the amount of time you are away until your dog is completely comfortable with you leaving him for extended periods of time.

You can now try leaving the house with him in the crate. Try not to make a big performance of leaving or returning home. Keep everything as low-key and normal as possible.

Again, the first time, only leave for a few minutes, and then come back again. As your dog’s confidence grows, increase the time you are away.

Leaving Your Dog Alone In The Crate

The length of time you leave your dog in the crate will depend on his age and maturity. In general, you should never leave a dog in the crate longer than he can hold his bladder.

At 8 weeks, it will be no longer than 60 minutes. At 12 weeks, you can extend the time you are away to 2 hours, and at 16 weeks, he can be left for up to 4 hours. Whatever his age, you should never leave your dog in the crate longer than 5 hours.

A Couple More Quick Tips

When you crate train your dog, never let him out of the crate when he is barking or whining. This will only encourage him to bark and whine more. Instead, wait until he is quiet, and then immediately reward him with a treat. Only when he is quiet should you let him out of the crate.

Your dog should instinctively know that he should not soil his sleeping area. However, putting him in a crate does not automatically make him potty trained. When you release your dog from the crate always take him outside so he has a chance to wee and potty.

Last Thoughts

Using a dog crate doesn’t have to seem like taking your dog to jail. If you take the time to crate train your dog in the right way, building his confidence as you go, your dog will come to regard his crate as a safe and secure place where he loves to be.