Question from a Reader: I’m housetraining my new puppy and using a crate. How do I train her to like her crate and go to it when I want her to?
Training your puppy or dog to go to her crate (or bed) is a behavior you’ll love to have.
It comes in handy when you have company, when you are cooking, when you’re going out or any situation where you want to keep the dog safe or to prevent accidents. Anytime you want your dog out from underfoot, being able to tell her to “go to her crate” helps.
To crate train your puppy, start by feeding all your puppy’s meals in her crate. Don’t lock her in. Keep the door open. Get her used to going in and out of the crate by tossing treats and toys into the crate. Treat the crate like a good place to be and not punishment. When crate training your dog, pick a cue to use so she knows that means “go to your crate.” It can be a simple verbal command like just saying “crate” – or I know of one dog owner whose dog responds to the phrase “it’s bedtime”. They reinforced by using the phrase while crate training every night before they went to bed (and any other time they wanted to direct their dog to go to his crate).
Use treats or food and praise her each time she goes to her crate. This crate training technique works whether your dog is young or old.
Be sure to practice crating your dog or puppy while you are home as well as when you are going out so your dog doesn’t totally associate the crate with your absence.
If you don’t want to use a crate for training, or even if you do, you can also use this technique to teach your puppy or dog to “go to your bed.” The “bed” can be anything you want it to be, a place on a rug, a corner in the room, or a dog bed – any spot where you might need them to go to be out from underfoot or keep them safe. It works and you’ll be so glad to have the technique when you need it.