Building a Positive Association
- Ensure your crate is big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in
- Position it in your home away from the main entrance or where visitors may frequent regularly but where the dog feels comfortable.
- Ensure it is snug, with comfy bedding and a blanket over the top/sides.
- You may wish to put a non-spill water bowl in there too.
- Spend time with your dog in the room where the crate has been positioned with the door of the crate open to get your dog more familiar with the new object.
- Place something with your smell (an old unwashed jumper) in the crate and any toys they like.
- With your dog on lead and the crate door open, using a portion of your dogs dinner and some tasty treats (cooked chicken) mixed in, guide your dog in to the crate by luring them in with the food and placing/throwing it on the base of the crate. Verbally praise them if they step in. DO NOT shut the door.
- Now guide your dog back out of the crate.
- Repeat this at least 6-12 times ensuring you verbally praise your dog heavily as they go in, releasing more food if they get their whole body in to the crate.
- Give your dog a break for at least 20 minutes.
- Now repeat steps 6-8 but this time say ‘ON YOUR BED’ as you guide them in to the crate.
- Repeat step 10-11 but this time close the crate door behind the dog and continue dropping food in to the crate through the top, keeping the dog is in there for at least 10 -15 seconds.
- Now repeat step 12 but increase the length of time the dog remains in the crate with the door closed and drip feed food through to them over the period of time.
- Now repeat the exercise throughout the day to encourage your dog to go ‘ON YOUR BED’ on command, guiding them with the lead if necessary.
- Every dinner time they should be fed in their crate
- Any high value rewards (e.g raw bones/leftovers) should only be fed in their crate.
- We advise they sleep in there at night and any whining/attention seeking barking must be ignored completely unless you feel there is a desire for the dog to go to the toilet, which you'll know if you take it outside and it goes to the toilet.
It is important that the dog understands that their crate is their ‘safe zone’ in their house where nobody, except the people it fully trusts, will approach them. It's the perfect way to teach children about giving a dog space too as it's very visual for them to understand.
If your dog at any stage seems anxious, fearful or reactive to anything, then you need to immediately guide them on lead (do not drag them by their collar) to their crate. Reward them verbally followed by a food reward if necessary. Once the ‘threat’ has passed which you have dealt with, and only when the dog is calm and relaxed, can the dog come out of the crate. This will help the dog understand that you deal with any threats and not them which is much safer for all.
The 'On Your Bed' training is invaluable for any dog and something we recommend you teach them, whether using a indoor crate or any dog bed.