I don’t want to argue with you.
Crate train your dog.
I don’t care if he/she is already housebroken.
I don’t care if he/she isn’t destructive while you’re gone.
I don’t care if he/she hates, loathes, and despises the crate.
Do it anyway.
It’s a discussion we often have here in the shop and we hope we’ve given some people reason to reconsider their decisions to discard their dogs’ crates.
Everybody has “stuff” – jobs, school, appointments, social commitments, etc. Much as we’d like to, we can’t be with our dogs all day every day. Which means our dogs have the opportunity to get in all kinds of trouble. Which they don’t, because they’re crated.
For the sake of argument, we’ll say that your dog is a perfect angel when you’re not there. He/she never eliminates in the house, never chews anything he/she shouldn’t, doesn’t bark all day, and never, ever puts a foot wrong.
You still need to train your dog to be comfortable in a crate.
Why, you ask? Because there will probably be a time when your dog, for whatever reason, needs to be crated – in the animal hospital, in a boarding facility, at the groomers. And if you ever want to join our community of dog-performance people, your dog will most likely be crated at obedience, rally, and agility trials. If your dog is relaxed, and calm, familiar with a crate, it will make his/her life much easier. And yours.
Crate training can even help with separation anxiety. If you teach your dog to love his/her crate, then it’s a familiar, comfortable place when you’re away.
We’re not saying that crates have to be empty, stark, dark, places. It can be the Taj Mahal of crates, with cushy bedding and comfy, soft towels to lie on. It’s your dog’s “room” and should be a happy place, not a punishment. And it should be the best place (aside from at your side) ever, ever, ever!
The first step is to dig out that crate from storage. Clean it up and put in a nice, soft bed (or whatever cushion your dog likes). Keep it in the active part of the house – not the laundry room, mud room, or basement. It should be where you are. And start “adding value” to the crate. Leave the door open at first, all the time.
Feed your dog in the crate. Every meal. All the time. Especially if your dog loves to eat.
Play with your dog using the crate. Throw in a toy and tell your dog to “get it.”
Stand by the crate, with the door open, armed with a bunch of tasty treats. If your dog goes in the crate, give him/her a treat. And keep giving treats, as long as he/she stays in. As soon as your pup comes out, stop giving treats. Dogs learn quickly. Yours will soon discover that crate can be a wonderful place to be.