I love my Crate – Angles

Just as for “Middle” if your puppy is enthusiastic to go to his crate, it is time to have fun and make your puppy become a problem solver by making the entries of the crate more difficult to find.

  1. Start to make the entry of the crate more difficult for your puppy to find by rotating the crate by 45 degrees so that the entry of the crate is not directly facing your puppy anymore
  2. When your puppy has no issue with 45 degrees, increase this to 90 degrees.
  3. With time you will be able to rotate the cage by 180 degrees

This is a great game that also teaches your puppy to think about the position of the entry to the crate.

I love my Crate

Some people believe it is cruel to leave a puppy (or a dog) in a crate. To be honest I used to be one of those people. The reality is that most puppies and adult dogs, if not forced, like a remote and calm place. The crate can be the safe and quiet place where the puppy can relax, away from noise and other member of the household be it children or dogs. When you are away from home, taking a crate also provides a safe familiar environment.

Teaching a puppy to love its crate can also reduce separation anxiety in the future as you are gradually teaching your puppy to be in its own safe environment.

To achieve this, your puppy must create a positive relationship with the crate. Under no circumstances should it be used as a punishment zone. Really, I should introduce this module during the first week of the Puppy School, but I have learnt from experience to give my students time to learn positive reinforcement with the mat before introducing the crate. It is easy to change a mat if necessary, but not that easy to change a crate.

There are 2 aspects in teaching your puppy to love its crate, the first is a game, and the second is everyday life.

For everyday life, if you have not followed ditch the bowl concept and still feed your puppy at regular hours, take the opportunity to feed your puppy in the crate. You can also play “scatter feeding” by dropping some treats or kibble in the crate, so your puppy must search for them. Alternatively give your puppy a Kong or a chewy so your puppy learns to be calm in the crate. For all these activities it is not necessary to close the gate of the crate although is a good game for you to vary this; sometimes closing it, sometimes not.

When familiarising your puppy with the crate sometimes you should stay near to your puppy during these activities and at other times move away into another room. I would advise to do this randomly, sometimes staying with them, sometimes leaving for a few seconds or minutes, and even sometimes not returning. Let your puppy find you. Avoid a routine.

When it comes to playing a game, you can easily kill two birds with one stone:  making the crate environment fun for your puppy and training your “Wait”.

  1. Teach your puppy to move quickly to the crate:
    1. Position yourself so that the entry to the crate is facing your puppy and easy to find.
    2. Let your puppy smell a very tasty treat or piece of food.
    3. Tease your puppy so your puppy really wants this piece of food.
    4. Drop or throw the treat inside the crate. The treat needs to be very visible, so it is no effort to find.
    5. Let the puppy go in the crate to get the treat.
    6. Keep repeating this game until your puppy is thoroughly comfortable with going fully into the crate.
    7. When your puppy is proficient, start to make the entry of the crate more difficult to find. This is simply done by rotating the crate by 90 degrees so that the entry of the crate is no longer facing your puppy.

It is a great game that teaches your puppy to think about the position of the entry to the crate.

  • Teach your puppy to wait in the crate until it is released (and yes, I do consider this as a game). The way to play this game is like “On your mat”, so you can transfer what you have learnt with the mat to the crate:
  • Let your pup go in the crate and reward your puppy at the back of the crate.  I prefer rewarding at the back to give value for being fully inside the crate and less value to the gate of the crate.
  • Close the gate and continue rewarding at the back of the crate.
  • Open the gate slightly. If your puppy shows an intention to leave the crate, close the gate. Timing is important, you do not want to be hitting or pushing your puppy with the door or slamming it shut. Open the gate slightly again and repeat until your puppy shows no more intention of leaving the crate.
  • If your puppy is not coming forward and shows no intention to leave the crate, reward it again at the back of the crate.
  • Close the door again and keep on rewarding.
  • Open the door again and try to make the opening slightly bigger each time.
  • Finally invite your puppy out of the crate with the release word.

When your puppy really likes the crate, you can bundle the two games of sending your puppy to the crate and then asking your puppy to wait in the crate before releasing. As with other games start increasing your distance from the crate. And remember it will take time!