Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adventures in Fostering: Crate Training for Dogs

We still have our adorable foster dog Beckham, and I wanted to briefly visit a training technique that we've been using with him- crate training! Most people might associate crate training with puppies, as it's the best way to set boundaries and teach potty training. But those same skills sometimes need to be learned by older dogs too. Bringing home a new animal (especially when you already have 4 animals) means that you need to take precautions and keep everyone safe, so we rely on a crate to help us achieve that.

Not knowing much about Beckham before he made his way to us, there was no way that we would let him have free run of the house. Especially when we learned of his marking behavior indoors. So when we aren't home, or when we're in bed at night, Beckham gets to hang out in his extra large wire crate. For some dogs, this is a big adjustment. How you go about introducing the crate to a dog can make or break your success with it. We got pretty lucky with this guy, but I know from past experiences that it's not always that easy.

First things first- make the crate a comfortable place, and create positive associations with it. Throw some yummy, smelly treats in there and let the dog go in and out to get them. Put the dog in the crate for short time periods while you're home, so they can still see and hear you. (Dinner time is good because we can have uninterrupted meal time.) Give them a bone or dog puzzle to play with to keep them entertained. Practice leaving the house for 5-10 minutes, returning to let the dog out of the crate, and then spending a little time playing together afterwards. You don't want the dog to think of the crate as punishment, so it's important to build up the time slowly, and continue to make positive associations with it.

Neither one of us are licensed dog trainers, but we've learned a few things on our fostering journey that have helped with successfully having other animals in our house. This has been a key technique in teaching certain behaviors (and preventing other ones), and helping to keep everyone safe and out of trouble.

Here's Beckham enjoying his crate all on his own- the door is still open and he decided to take a nap in there. 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting topic here in your site. Keep on posting this kind of topics. Very useful indeed.

    Kind Regards,
    Elayne Taylor