Updated: Mar 16
1) Put the crate somewhere safe where the family spends a lot of time. Crate training needs to happen throughout the day when you are home with your puppy.
2) Make the crate a den, cover it over, put a nice bed in there (watch out for chewers of soft beds), I like vet bedding, easy to wash and generally dachshund proof. Put a small bowl of water in there and a few safe toys.
3) Sit near the crate and encourage your puppy to explore, using treats to encourage him or her to explore and settle in there. It is worth trying to fix the door so it doesn’t rattle or hit the dog as he explores. Lots of gentle praise for going in the crate with extra treats when he goes all the way in. Don’t force it, just be patient. You can do this for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. But it won’t happen straight away. When he is going in the crate you can say “go to bed” but only when he is in the process of going in.
4) Feed your dog its meals in its crate with the door open. Its important they build a positive relationship with the crate.
5) Once they are happy going in the crate for meals you can put their bowl at the back of the crate or a nice safe chew – just for cage time and shut the door whilst eating, but stay next to the cage whilst he does. After each successful meal leave the door closed a little longer, but still go back to basics frequently to build confidence. Eventually build up to 10 minutes after eating. If he starts to whine then you may have done it to quickly so go back a step and reinforce those basics. If he does whine it’s really important you do not let them out until they have stopped as this rewards the whining, it is really important you do not rush them so take it very slowly.
6) When he is happily going in there for meal times you can start putting in time and distance whilst you are home. To start sit by the cage and then gently stand up and potter around the room for a few minutes then go back to the cage and sit quietly by it. Then when they are quiet open the door and let them out. Do not praise when they come out of the crate.
7) Once they are comfortable with this and you not sitting close to the cage for the duration you can build up the time you are away from the crate and eventually start disappearing out of the room, again building up time.
8) When you can comfortably leave them in the crate for 30 minutes and they are completely relaxed you can build up the time during the day or at night. Crates should not be used for extended periods of time.
Crate training will also help for car journeys (it is an offence for a dog to be unrestrained in a car and can invalidate your insurance), also if your dog is unwell and not crate trained this can make them less settled. The most recommended treatment for IVDD is extended periods of cage rest. This can be weeks at a time.
NEVER USE THE CRATE AS A PUNISHMENT – THIS IS YOUR DOGS SAFE SPACE. CHILDREN SHOULD BE ADVISED IF HE IS IN HIS CRATE, EVEN IF THE DOOR IS OPEN THAT IT IS A NO GO ZONE!