Crate training your dog sounds difficult, doesn’t it? How do you know which size crate to get, or how much time your dog should spend in it? Don’t worry, we have good news! Training is much easier than most people think. In fact, we’re always training our dogs, whether we mean to or not. The question is...what are they learning?
Here’s a list of some of the most common ways pet owners train their dogs to hate their crate.
The first decision you make about your dog’s crate has a big impact on how and what you train them to think about it. Nothing will turn your buddy off the idea of spending time in there faster than picking one that's too big to settle down in. Dogs are den animals and like to feel safe and secure in an enclosed space. Expecting them to feel cozy in a big, wide-open crate basically defeats the purpose
On the flipside, choosing a crate that’s too small will train them to hate it as well. Spending time in a space that’s too small to sprawl out in will quickly make your dog associate that spot with feeling confined and uncomfortable.
Really, all they want is a cozy place to call their own. Making your dog love their crate means you have to find one that fits —not too big, not too small.
Where you put the crate can also make all the difference. A lot of people train their dog to hate the crate by placing it somewhere that guarantees their dog will never want to be there. Getting your dog to calm down while your roommate learns French horn is probably not happening. The same goes for overly active areas of the house, like the kitchen or a child's playroom. Too much stimulation makes it hard to rest and relax.
Your dog will really only love their crate if you put it somewhere safe and peaceful. It wouldn’t hurt to pay attention to whether your dog prefers to spend time close to you and your family or off in a secluded side-room where they can nap in peace.
Finally, if you want to ensure that your dog will never develop a loving relationship with their crate, use it as a form of negative reinforcement. It turns out that putting your dog into their crate when they’ve chewed an entire roll of toilet paper or when they won’t stop whining doesn’t train them to stop those behaviors. It just trains them to think of their crate as a villain and to see time in there as punishment.
While you’re training your dog to hate their crate, you could also ruin the “Come” command. Calling your dog over in a loving voice, then nudging them into the crate is a great way to break down whatever trust you’ve built with them.
Just remember, giving your dog a little positive attention while in the crate is going to make them feel secure. Not leaving them unattended and barking for too long also helps make the crate feel less like jail.
If you decide you'd rather help your dog love their crate, just do the opposite of the things we’ve listed above.