Goals of Crate Training:
~ To get your puppy into a crate on cue.
~ To get your puppy to stay in his/her crate until you release him/her.
Going Into The Crate On Cue
1. Show your puppy a handful of food or a food dish with food in it. Bait your puppy to the crate. SAY NOTHING, just throw the food into the back of the crate, or put the food dish in. Let your puppy eat the food. Leave the crate open so he can come out on his own. Rehearse this sequence. (While you are teaching your puppy to go into the crate on cue, do not do anything about his coming out.)
2. Your puppy will soon begin to beat you to the crate and run inside before you show him the food. You want this to happen! Now start walking towards the crate more slowly. Have the puppy wait inside the crate longer before you toss in the food. Now the puppy is becoming AWARE of what is happening.
3. Your timing is important on this next step. Watch your puppy closely! Your puppy MUST understand that when you walk towards the crate (cue), if he runs into the crate and waits (response), you come to the crate and toss in food (consequence). At the time when you know he is conscious of this cue—response—consequence sequence, you can overlay the verbal cue “CRATE”.
4. Say the cue word “CRATE” as he is going in! Say the release word “OK” as he is coming out! (Remember not to do anything, yet, to prevent him from coming out on his own.) Rehearse this sequence.
5. The next step is to walk into the area where the crate is located. Say the cue “CRATE” and see if your puppy goes into the crate without your having to walk towards it. Once your puppy is inside, walk over and give the food. Once in a while, put food in the crate and THEN go get your puppy and cue him to go into his crate. (This will intensify his desire to go to and get into the crate!)
6. Once your puppy goes into the crate on cue, you can begin to focus on staying in the crate until released.
Staying In The Crate Until Released
How It Works
During the time you are teaching your puppy to go into the crate on cue, you are still going to have to put your puppy in the crate and close the door. It is important to do two things:
A) Do not use a cue to get your puppy to go into his crate. Rather PUT him in, give him food and close the door.
B) Use the fact that the door is closed to teach him what he must do to get out.
1. Walk up to the crate. Put a big smile on your face! Wait until your puppy makes eye contact. Say indicator word “YES”. Open the door and let puppy out. Say “OK” as puppy comes out. Rehearse this sequence until your puppy is making eye contact by the time you get to the crate.
2. Wait longer and longer until you open the crate door. DO NOT open the crate unless your puppy is making eye contact.
3. To go to the next step, you puppy MUST understand that you will not open the crate door unless he is making eye contact.
4. The next step is to teach your puppy that, even though the door is open, he must remain in the crate until you release him.
5. Begin by opening the crate door just a crack. If your puppy tries to come out, shut the door. Repeat this until your puppy does not try to come out. When your puppy DOES NOT try to come out, say “YES” and let the puppy out.
6. Step by step, work at being able to open the door a little farther. It will probably take a number of training sessions before you will be able to open the door completely. BE PATIENT!