Whether you’ve just adopted a sweet little puppy or your adult dog is ready for additional training, crate training is one of the best methods of instilling confidence and good behavior in your pet. When your pet is properly trained, crates provide a sense of safety and security and are an invaluable tool when house-training your pet.

While the team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital highly recommends crate training for both cats and dogs, there are a few things you should know beforehand. Keep reading to learn more about crates and their purpose and how to get your pet to cozy up to his or her own little “den.”

Why Crate Train?

Dogs are naturally drawn to “dens,” and cats also seek out secure, quiet places to hide. This instinct for shelter and safety is natural and can be a boon when it comes to training.

Potty-training is one of the primary reasons pet owners begin crate training their puppies. As anyone who’s ever cared for a puppy knows, they don’t always have great bladder control. Since a dog’s natural desire is to keep his or her sleeping area clean, using a crate during the process of training can be quite effective.

Crates also instill a sense of safety – especially when you create a space that’s comfortable and associated with positive things, like cozy beds, toys, treats, and, initially, even mealtimes.

Acclimating your pet to a crate will help any time he or she needs to travel to a veterinary appointment or any other time that a safe, secure place is needed. Imagine how much easier it would be to transport your travel-wary cat if he or she already felt comfortable in the carrier thanks to good crate training!

Crate Training Tips for Dogs (and Cats!)

Before you begin introducing your pet to the crate, one of the most important things to remember is that a crate is not punishment. The crate should be a positive place! Crate training is for your pet’s well being as opposed to convenience, so stay consistent with positive association and amount of time in the crate.

We recommend no more than 4-5 hours at a time, maximum. If you’re using the crate in conjunction with housetraining, you should plan on taking your pet out at least every four hours so he or she can “go potty” outdoors.

Other ways to help your pet learn to love the crate include:

  • Choose the right crate for your pet’s comfort, which includes size (big enough to stand up and turn around but not roomy enough to encourage “accidents”) and material (wood, plastic, metal wire). Your choice should be based on what’s most comfortable for your pet.
  • Make the crate a safe, fun place. After setting up the crate, leave the door open. Toss treats and toys inside for your pet to find.
  • Once your pet is comfortable entering and exiting the crate, close the door and offer treats. When your pet begins to enter and exit independently to explore, you can increase the amount of time spent in the crate.
  • Keep the crate in an area where your pet likes to hang out; continue to reinforce this positive association by placing new toys or daily treats inside the crate. Hopefully, you’ll find your pet enjoying a nap in his or her crate often!

Crate training can make an incredible difference in your pet’s confidence, behavior, and overall happiness. To learn more or to inquire about behavior training, please give us a call!