I have to begin by saying, “I have NO FORMAL TRAINING” in dog behavior. Just trial & error experience. However, over the years working with retired racing greyhounds, I have learned a few things.
First and foremost, YOU must be okay with crating your dog. If you are serious about adopting a dog that has been determined to be BETTER OFF in a crate, begin by convincing yourself CONVINCINGLY that the crate is a good thing. Once you think bad thoughts about the crate, you will “ooze” bad vibes about the crate. A dog that senses you don’t feel good about crating will *never* agree to stay in a crate.
How do you convince yourself that a crate is okay? Here are some thoughts on that:
- Lots of dogs yearn for a spot that is just their own. A cave, in a manner of speaking. Crates can provide that “space”.
- If you crate your dog while you are out of the house, you never have to worry that they will root thru the garbage, eat the remote or decide to relieve herself at the back door…or on the Persian rug.
- Crates are not painful, abnormal or something to be persecuted for using. So, if you choose to tell someone that you crate your dog and that person tells you how dogs should be allowed to “run free”…smile and nod. That would be THEIR dog chewing the blinds, not yours.
Okay, so you have convinced yourself that crating is okay and the “vibe” is good. Now make it fun for your dog. Everything GOOD happens in the crate.
Is your dog toy motivated? Put all his favorite toys in the back of the crate for a while. Let him go into the crate to pull out a toy and play with it. When he’s done, put it back in the crate. Not forever, just for a while.
Is your dog food motivated? Rewards (as in cookies) are given in the crate. In order for the crate to be a good place, treat your dog when she’s in the crate. For a while, to motivate both my dogs to get in the crate after going out and relieving themselves, I called the crate Cookies. I’d say, in a happy, upbeat voice, “Let’s go get COOKIES!” when they came inside. The biscuits/chewie bones were already in the crate, and when they got inside the crate, I would shut the door behind them and say, “GOOD COOKIES!” My girl dog still responds to that today.
Make it comfy – if your dog is old enough to know not to chew everything in site, put fluffy blankets or soft pillows in the crate for comfort. If his toys, cookies and softest pillows are in the crate, how can you go wrong?
Be careful…food and water before a few hours in the crate is a recipe for disaster. Try to limit the water and just snack your dog before extended crate time. Dogs don’t really LIKE to rest/reside/lie down in a soiled crate. So, don’t set them up for failure.
Limit the amount of time in the crate at first. As with everything, building up to 8 work hours in a crate (yes, it is doable…) is a waiting game. Remember that you cannot expect a dog that has never been in a crate to do 6-8 hours in a crate after a week. So, as you are building up to that length, hire a dog walker, or have a friend/family member come over to release the dog for a short amount of time. Oh, make sure your dog-walker/friend/family member is also understanding that the crate is A GOOD THING. No bad crate vibes around your dog!
Some breeds may NEVER make it in the crate. Again, I’m not a dog expert…I’m an enthusiast. And, I know greyhounds better than other breeds. So…your results may vary.
And, for those of you reading who don’t believe in crating – this article is NOT for you. Please don’t comment to tell me how horrible I am to crate my dog. I am not crating YOUR dog, just my dog. And I don’t think you should crate your dog because I crate my dog. That’s not what this is about.