In a crate or behind a baby gate is a lovely and secure place for dogs to spend time when you’re not at home or you can’t be watching them because you’re in the shower, taking care of a baby, or busy making dinner, just to name a few.
The techniques in the excerpt below will apply to crate and gate training equally. Whether you are crating for puppy potty and house manners, or gating so you dog can see your baby having floor time, the process will be the same.
Behind the gate or in the crate should be a safe place where your dog is not disturbed and where they can have fun with wonderful safe things like – toys, food, treats, a kong, a bone, and more. Remember if crating for puppy potty training, the size of the crate should be large enough for your pup to turn around, lie down, and stand up without crouching. More on puppy potty and manners in the Puppy 101 series.
An excerpt from:
Teaching our dogs how to be happy on the other side of a gate or in their crate is pretty easy but will take a bit of attention and training.
- We begin by tossing a treat for our dog as we close the door of the baby gate (or crate) so the dog is on the other side.
- Then treat him for being on the other side of the gate or crate. Take a step away, then return and treat him.
- Take enough steps away so you cannot reach him and toss the treat.
- Return to the gate and treat him. Then move farther away and toss the treat. Repeat this rotation of reaching out to hand them a treat and tossing him a treat from farther away. You don’t want him thinking you always have to be near the gate or crate for him to get something. He needs to never know when he might get rewarded except that it is when he is on the other side of the gate or in the crate. Once he has figured this out, you can move to the next step.
- NOTE—if your dog starts to jump or bark, you should turn away, walk away, and IGNORE him—DO NOT TALK to him, DO NOT LOOK at him. As soon as he is quiet—toss the treat. Your dog will figure out quickly that quiet gets him what he wants.
- If your dog will work for his kibble—great. However, if not, you will need a treat that is higher value. Please be sure to read the ingredients of the treats and look for treats that have meat as the first ingredient.
- Once your dog is happily standing quietly on the other side of the gate or in the crate, then start asking the dog to settle there. Follow the settle directions from above adjusting for your being on the other side of a gate or crate.
- Eventually you walk away from the gate or the crate and go do something. If you will be doing something that won’t allow you to intermittently return to the dog to treat him, or you won’t be able to toss him a treat, for example if you are taking a nap or a shower, leave him with a Kong, stuffed bone, or puzzle toy so he is happily occupied while you are otherwise engaged.
- Eventually, when your dog is on the other side of a gate or in the crate, you will no longer need to interact with him because he will be content with this place and not need further assistance.
- If your dog is really opposed to being alone, however, there will be some setbacks. You can always feed him his meals on the other side of the gate or in his crate while you are in another room in addition to working the above steps.
Pinball getting sleepy in his crate.
If your dog hurts himself in the crate you will want to try to build happy crate time following the steps above but at a much slower pace and only for occasional use. While you may not envision putting your dog in a crate regularly, there are situations in addition to management that will call for your dog to have crate time, such as: the dog is lost and taken in by Animal Control, or the dog is injured or must undergo surgery that requires them to be crate-rested for a period of time. If your dog finds himself in either of these situations and is unhappy in the crate, he will be extremely stressed and may hurt himself while crated and his crate fears will only increase. If your dog simply cannot adjust to a crate, do not force the issue.