Tips to Remember
∑ A crate should have enough room for the dog to stand and turn around.
∑ Because dogs are social animals, the ideal location for the crate is in a room full of activity.
∑ For the crate to remain a positive retreat never use it for punishment. You can, however, use the crate to avoid potential problems (e.g. chewing, jumping). If you use social isolation, or "time-out," place the dog in a separate room instead of the crate.
Introduce the puppy to the crate as early in the day as possible. Place a few treats, toys, or food in the crate to motivate the puppy to enter voluntarily. The first confinement session should be after a period of play, exercise, and elimination (e.g., when the puppy is ready to take a nap). Place the puppy in its crate with a toy and a treat, and close the door. Leave the room but remain close enough to hear the puppy. Expect some distress at first. Never reward the pup by letting it out when it cries or whines. Ignore it until the crying stops, and then release it.
If crying does not subside on its own, a light scolding may be useful. Avoid any excessive correctionó it can cause fear and anxiety, which could aggravate the whining or cause elimination. When correcting, remain out-of-sight so that the puppy does not learn to associate the punishment with your presence. A squirt from a water gun or a sharp noise (try a shaker can containing a few coins) can be used to interrupt barking.
Training Adult Dogs
Training an adult dog is similar to training a puppy, except regarding the initial introduction to the crate. Introduce the dog to the crate by setting it up in the dog's feeding area with the door open for a few days. Place food, treats, and toys in the crate so that the dog enters on its own. Once the dog is entering the crate freely, it is time to close the door. When punishing the dog, take the same advice given for puppy training. Gradually increase the amount of time the dog must remain quietly in the crate before you release it.
John Weale D.V.M., M.S.