Bird Dogs Afield host Paul Fuller is the gun dog columnist for Northwoods Sporting Journal. The Journal has granted permission to re-print Paul’s articles. Thank you Northwoods Sporting Journal.

Northwoods Sporting Journal

Crate Train Your Dog            

The benefits of having crate trained dogs are numerous. I can’t imagine what it would be like without our dogs being crate trained. First, if properly trained, a crate provides security for both a puppy and an adult dog. The crate should be, in the dog’s mind, considered a safe place. A crate is a place that belongs to the dog. A place that is comfortable and provides a place to relax.

For the dog owner, a crate provides piece of mind. If you need to leave the dog unsupervised, you know the dog will not be tearing up the house. Also, if traveling, the crate keeps everything in order if staying in a motel. You can leave the dog in their crate while going out to eat. Also, you make points with motel management if you tell them your dog(s) stay in a crate during your stay. In addition, our dogs always have one hour of quite time in their crate after being fed. This practice helps avoid bloat.

Crate training should begin with the day you get your new puppy. Crate training for an older dog is more difficult.

There are numerous types of dog crates. We use the wire fold-out crate. We can easily see our dogs and be aware of what’s going on in the crate. Plus, if traveling, they’re easy to fold up and put in our vehicle. The size of the crate should depend upon the size of your dog. Crate manufacturers usually list the size and weight of the dogs that fit into each crate. Dogs do not want to urinate or deficate on their bedding. So, for a puppy, be sure the crate is not too big.

Make the crate a warm and comfortable place to be. We use Mud River Dog Product crate pads and then add a small blanket or two. Dogs like to create their own nest so provide what they need for their nest. Since our dogs may be unsupervised at times, we do not put toys in their crate.

As with any dog training, approach crate training with enthusiasm and a happy voice. This approach helps the puppy/dog feel this is good stuff they’re learning.

Now, let’s begin the training process. As with most of our puppy training, we use bait to obtain the desired behavior. With the crate all set up with bedding, open the door. Put a piece of bait directly in front of the crate with the crate door open. We use homemade jerky, however, a small piece of hot dog will work fine. Over a period of one day, repeat this exercise three times. Do not pick up the puppy and place inside the crate. The next day, put the bait right in front of the crate once and then just inside the crate two times. If using small pieces of hot dog, the pup will smell the bait if it’s not seen. As the pup steps into the crate, softly and in a happy tone, say “crate”. The third day, repeat the inside the crate exercise three times. The third time, shut the door and leave the pup in the crate for a few minutes. Make sure the puppy can still see you. On the fourth day and beyond, simply extend the time the pup is in the crate. After one week, you should begin just using the command “crate” and no longer use bait. Also, you should now walk into another room and not allow the puppy to see you for a few minutes.

An important point to make is that you should not respond to whining or howling when you leave the room. If you respond, you’ve quickly taught the pup that he can get what he wants by crying. Ignore the fuss and it will eventually stop.

After you have left the pup in the crate for at least 30 minutes and you’ve disappeared into another room, it’s time to go outside. Try staying outside for 15 minutes. Then return like nothing happened. Gradually extend your outside time. Here are a couple of tips before leaving the pup for an extended period of time. Make sure he’s been outside to poop and pee. And, make sure he’s had some exercise. Both will help him relax and most likely even sleep.

We have a rule in our house. A puppy is never left in a crate for than one hour. An adult dog is never left in a crate for more than three hours except at night when they happily sleep in their crates. If longer, boredom may settle in and the dog becomes anxious or even destructive.

Please remember that a properly crate trained dog is a happy dog. Also remember that crate training is like any other training. When you run into a roadblock, simply step back and repeat the previous step.

Copyright 2020 Paul Fuller

Paul and his wife Susan are co-hosts of Bird Dogs Afield TV ( Paul can be contacted at