How to Crate Train a Dog
What is the Best Technique for Crate Training Older and Adult Dogs?
For adult dogs or older puppies that have not been crate trained previously, set up the crate in the dog's feeding area with the door open for a few days. Place food, treats, and water in the crate so that the dog enters the crate on its own. Another alternative is to place the crate (or a second crate) in the dog's sleeping area with its bedding. Some dogs might do better in a pen or confinement area with barricade (child gate). Once the dog is entering the crate (or area) freely, it is time to close the door for very short periods.
Using the same training techniques as for "sit" and "stay" training, have the dog enter its crate for short periods of time to obtain food, treats, or chew toys. Once the dog expects treats each time it enters the crate, train the dog to enter the crate on command (for example, “kennel!”), and have the dog remain in the kennel for progressively longer periods of time before it is allowed to exit. Give small rewards each time the dog enters the cage at first, and give the dog a favored chew toy or some food to help make the stay more enjoyable. At first, the door can remain open during these training sessions.
When the dog is capable of staying comfortably and quietly in the crate, begin to lock the dog in the crate at nighttime. Once the dog sleeps in the crate through the night, try leaving him in the crate during the daytime. Try short departures first, and gradually make them longer.
Is Crate Training Practical for All Dogs?
An occasional dog may not tolerate crate training, and may continue to show anxiety, or even eliminate when confined. These dogs may adapt better to other types of confinement such as a pen, dog run, small room, or barricaded area. Of course, if the dog is being left alone for longer than it can control (hold in) its elimination (i.e., poop, pee), it will be necessary to provide an area much larger than a cage, so that the dog has a location on which to eliminate — away from its food and bedding.
Continued anxiety, destruction, or vocalization when placed in the dog crate may indicate separation anxiety. In these cases seek the advice of a veterinary behaviorist.