Hey there, Furparents No, my dogs don’t each have their own bedroom. They each have a crate in the busiest room in my house, the lounge room. It’s comfy, has a bed and a blanket in it, and a cover to keep out the light.
Let me tell you why I advocate for crate training. When I first adopted Brock, I stupidly thought that the gigantor pup asleep on his new dog bed would blissfully sleep the night away. Hell to the power of no! He did not do that. I walked into the kitchen the next morning to find my fridge emptied, half being smashed on the floor and half being in his distended belly. While I was blissfully snoring my head off, Brock had gone exploring and taught himself to open the fridge. I couldn’t get a crate quick enough (shout out to Danny at my local pet supply store).
The Scoop on Crate Training
So, why crate training? Well, besides saving your furniture from the teething terror, it gives your pup a safe space and can turn into a handy travel buddy. But let’s not make it a canine prison; instead, let’s transform that crate into the ultimate doggy penthouse using some genius positive reinforcement games.
So, when might your dog have to go into a crate? For travel, for veterinary treatment, and even during a natural disaster. During bushfires and then floods that have occurred in my area over the past few years it was obvious to the volunteers at the animal evacuation centres which dogs were crate trained and which were not. The ones who were used to being crated were far less stressed than the ones who we had to shove into a crate for their own safety. No time to patiently crate train when you’re saving lives.
Making the Crate Cool
First things first – let’s make that crate the VIP section of the doggy world. Toss in some treats, throw in a squeaky toy or two, and even a plush bed – we’re talking canine paradise here! Think of it as your dog’s version of a cosy Airbnb. The crate should become their bedroom where they can chill, sleep, or hide from the skinfants and other furkids in the family when it all just gets too much. Some dogs like a cover and some like to watch the household move around them. Both my boys like to be covered at night so that it’s nice and dark for them. I also cover them when I need them to disengage and de-escalate from exciting goings on in the house like visitors. A long lasting chew, gently shut the gate and cover the crate and they’re as happy as pigs in mud.
Boundary Training Shenanigans
What I need to make perfectly clear is that, outside of an emergency situation, you shouldn’t put Fido in a crate and shut the door until they are comfortable with you doing that. If they feel trapped then you have a fight, fight or freeze situation going on that may not end well and will likely result in your pup never wanting to enter a crate again. Relationship Bank Account withdrawal, big time!
Now, onto the concept of Boundary Training. It’s like teaching your dog to respect their personal space without turning into a canine bouncer. Your pup is the party animal; they just need to know when to rein it in and calm down. If you’ve trained with me then you will have the basics of Boundary Training. Fido’s boudoir is just another boundary that happens to have walls and a door.
Games, Rewards, Repeat
When crate training everything amazing should happen in the crate. Boundary Games – in the crate. Reward Games – in the crate. Calming Games – in the crate. Everything revolves around the crate. Boundary Games are like a treasure hunt for your pup. Toss in treats, reward away, then reward for returning to the crate, and watch your dog turn into a four-legged Sherlock, solving the mystery of the magical crate. The more they enjoy it, the more they’ll willingly hop into their little safe place. The more you make their safe place rewarding then the more they will want to step into their bedroom.
Slow and Steady Wins The Race
Crate training is a marathon, not a sprint. Start with short intervals and gradually build up the time. It’s like teaching your dog to Netflix binge – patience is key! Consistency is crucial, so keep those treats flowing and the good vibes rolling. Sometimes it can take a few weeks until your pooch is happy having their own room. As your pup becomes the crate master, pimp their crib. Toss in their favourite toys, a snuggly blanket, and maybe even an old shirt that smells like you (a.k.a. the doggy version of a celebrity autograph). Turn that crate into the Ritz-Carlton of doggy domains!
Crate training doesn’t have to be a howling ordeal. With a pinch of patience, a dash of humour, and the genius of games-based training, you’ll turn that crate into a room your pup will absolutely want to stay in. It’s not just crate training, it’s Calmness and Independence.
RSPCA Victoria have a great resource for crate training which you can find here https://rspcavic.org/learn/crate-training-your-dog/
Cheers to a house where everyone has their own bedroom, even if it’s a bit on the cosy side!