There are a lot of benefits of crate training your dogs. Crate training is essentially giving your pup a room of their own in the house, where they can retreat when they need som peace and quiet. In this space they feel safe, reducing anxiety, and they can relax more easily. Spending time in their crate isn't imprisonment, it is giving them shelter and a safe spot in the house that will give them higher quality of life when used right.
Crate training will take some time and effort, but it's well spent time. Your everyday life will be a lot easier when your dog is crate trained.
You should start crate training as soon as possible.
1. Choose The Right Crate
Without the right crate, you'll never succeed. There are a couple of different types you might check out before choosing one. Since you own a large breed dog, there are fewer to choose from. We've written an article on choosing the best crates for large dogs. Check it out!
For most large dogs a wire crate will be just perfect. These come in all sizes, and it should be easy to find one large enough for your big dog. Don't buy your crate too big. This will make it harder to place in your house, and dogs actually prefers their dens a bit tight.
2. Make The Crate a Comfortable Place
This step is all about making a connection for your dog between a relaxed mindset and the crate. You need to get your dog to understand that the crate is a safe spot for him, where he can go when he needs some time for a nap or just to get out of the everyday hustle and bustle of a lively family.
Bring them in when their calm, not directly from play time. With time they will know that the crate is where we go to rest.
A dog bed or blanket will make the crate soft and cozy. Some dogs will spend some time chewing and tearing at fabrics, but this is a natural part of building his den. Some dogs actually prefer lying directly on the floor or mat in the crate, but large dogs really should lie on something soft. This is hard to foresee, and you have to rely on trial and error.
Some dogs like it a bit darker and even more enclosed. Use a blanket on top of the crate to fulfill this.
Start by bringing them into the crate to spend about 10 minutes at first, and then work your way up from there. Remove your dogs collar before bringing them into the crate.
3. Get Your Dog To Spend Time In The Crate
The crate needs to be a place your dog have positive associations with, and snacks and treats will go a long way here. When your dog enters the crate, they need to be shown that it was the right move to make.
One great tip for getting your dog to stay for a while, is stuffing a KONG with some peanutbutter or other tasty snacks, sticking it in the freezer and giving this to the dog inside the crate. This way they will spend quite some time licking the tasty snack from the KONG, whilst getting used to staying inside the crate. Stay close to the crate when you start this training. Bring a book, and sit on the floor outside the crate, just hanging out together.
4. Set Your Dog Up For Success
The positive association for your dog with the crate needs to be consistent. Take it slowly both when you're just starting to bring your dog into the crate, as well as when the dog is ready for more crate-time. Don't throw them in the crate and leave for work for eight hours before your dog is ready to spend this amount of time there.
The first times you go away, it should only be to the room next door, and just for a very short period of time. In time you can advance to going out for a coffee or shopping for groceries.
A camera might be a smart device to invest in, so that you can see how your dog reacts and what he does when being alone. This might give you a pointer on how long the dog is comfortable staying locked up. Do you see them panting or pacing, or are they just lying there relaxing?
5. Play Games With Your Dog In And Around The Crate
The crate should be a place for relaxing, but a useful step in building your dogs confidence in staying in and around the crate, is also having fun.
Throwing a ball into the crate for them to fetch, or small treats for them to find, is great ways to accomplish this. In time your dog will be comfortable in the crate in all scenarios. It will be his own safe and fun spot to which he will go at free will.
At best, you need to prepare yourself for training over a few weeks, but it might take even a longer period of time to get your pup accustomed to the crate. But it will happen, and it will be worth it!
Steady and consistent training over time will always get you to your goal. Stick to your goal and your methods, and sooner or later your dog will recognize what triggers the rewards, and you will get your chance to reward them!
Best of luck with crate training your large dog!