Remember, crate training can take a few days or a few weeks; it all depends on the dog and their situation.
Step 1: Call your dog to the crate
Sit by the crate and call your dog over in a cheerful tone. Throw a treat or favorite toy just inside the crate. If your dog goes in and takes it, throw in another treat or two. Don’t coax or lure your dog into the crate. You should be relaxed and positive, but do not overdo the praise or your dog may feel nervous. If your dog refuses to go inside don’t force him/her. Instead toss in a few more treats and casually walk away. Continue this process until your dog goes into the crate happily and willingly. It helps to have a command such as “kennel” or “crate” so the dog has a name for this event.
Step 2: Close the door
Close the door when the dog is inside the crate. At first, just close the door for a moment and reopen it, reward your dog while he/she is still in the crate. Gradually lengthen the amount of time you have the door closed, staying outside the crate and acting like everything is just as normal as can be. Casually reward your dog to ensure that being in the crate with the door closed is a positive experience. You might consider feeding your dog in the crate, or offering a special bone or toy for use only while in the crate.
Step 3: Walk away
Once your dog is comfortable in the crate with the door closed, step away for short periods of time. Stay in his/her sight, just not outside the door and do normal activities that your dog is accustomed to watching you do. Gradually increase your time away from the crate with each repetition of crating your dog. Step into another room and continue to be casual, walk back in and toss in a small treat, then go back out again. Your objective is to leave your dog in the crate long enough for him/her to relax and lie down.
Step 4:Go out
Once your dog can reach a state of relaxation while in the crate for 30-60 minutes it’s time to leave them alone. Just as you worked up to everything else, gradually work up to leaving the dog alone while in the crate. Go out for a few minutes, then return and act like nothing happened. Do NOT release the dog upon entering your home. Wait ten minutes or until the dog is calm and then casually open the door. Do NOT
make any fuss over the dog, this is supposed to be a normal part of his/her day. Over time, increase the amount of time you are away from home.
Step 5: Release the dog
Don’t leave or return like you’ve been away for a year. Upon returning, go about your normal business and allow enough time to pass for your dog to calm down again in the crate. After your dog is calm, toss in a treat and briefly tell them “hello”. Wait a few more minutes and then release him/her. Keep a relaxed attitude so they will remain relaxed.
Photo by Tracy Ducasse (Flickr)