Why it is a Good Idea: The crate is a safe, secure environment for your dog when you can not be watching her. Once dogs are used to the crate, they start to view as their “den”, and feel comforted by the surrounding walls. A crate is a place to go when your dog feels stressed out by any situation, visiting children, adults, a lot of activity in the home, etc. Your dog should never be bothered by anyone while she is in the crate, this is her haven. Crate training is ideal for dogs who suffer separation anxiety, have housetraining problems, busy households, and young puppies who don’t have control over their bladder and bowels yet.
Starting Crate Training: A dog of any age can be crate trained, what differs is the length of time between day one, and acceptance as a haven by your dog. Proper introduction to a crate should involve a lengthy desensitization period, praise and rewards to be associated with the crate, and plenty of patience on your part. Remember, if you make the crate a place of desirability, your dog will start to see it that way too.
Step One – Nothing to Fear Here: Bring your crate home. Leave it somewhere that your dog can investigate it at her leisure for a couple of days with the door removed. If your dog is extremely skittish, you might want to try removing the top half if you are using a plastic airline kennel. If she shows no signs of curiosity, try leaving her favorite treats inside it, or a favorite toy. If you have to, coax her in using irresistible treats.
Once she’s been in and out of it a few times, start to feed her in the crate, with the top half back in place, but the door still removed. Praise and reward heavily for every few minutes spent in the crate on her own (with the door still open). You will need to decide when your dog is ready to move on to the next step and it’s time to start closing the door on her. The time is right when she’s relaxed and confident in the crate with the door still open.
Closing Her In: The next step is going to be hard. Close the door, and shut your dog in. Don’t make a fuss, when she goes in to eat, just reach over and close the door. At this point, you can either stand there and wait or walk away, but not so far that you can’t hear her. If she starts to cry, do not go and let her out. Wait until she has settled down, and when all is quiet, then you can open the door and let her leave the crate on her own. Continue this for a number of days.
Settling in for the night: My suggestion is to wear your dog out physically before it’s time for him to go into the crate. Play a lot, he should be tuckered out completely, and he should have emptied his bladder and bowels before you attempt to settle him for the night.
It is a good idea to keep a new toy, that he’s sure to like for his crate time if he is an older dog, and for younger puppies I suggest a shirt that has been recently worn, but not washed be placed inside the crate as well. It’s important to remember to associate the crate with good things, which is why a crate-toy should stay a crate-toy, and the shirt as well. It’s also a good idea to make sure the shirt isn’t one of your favorites, as you may never see it in one piece again.
If your new dog is a young puppy, keep the crate close to your bed at night, and when you feel the need to reassure him, just poke your fingers through the bars of the door to allow him to smell you, but do not let him out if he starts to whine. If he does not settle down after a short period of time, take him out (yes contradicting, but you should be able to tell the difference) and take him to his potty spot to relieve his bladder. Do not play with him, or cuddle him too much, just out to go pee, then right back in again. He needs to learn that night time is not play time. If you need to, set your alarm for about three hours into the night, and get up and take him out to avoid accidents in the crate. I also suggest you carry your puppy to the door, as they may squat on their way out, they don’t know the difference. If you carry them on your arms and put them down outside, you will prevent these “accidents” in the house. In about a week, they will know and can hold till they are outside. More on housetraining in the next article. Once you are past the first two or three nights, both you and your puppy should be comfortable with the crate, and your nights will be easier. It won’t be long before your pup is noticeably alerting you that he has to go outside, and the length between trips will expand, allowing all to get better rest at night.
Please follow the above and the crate training will be accomplished soon. Please be warned that if you take your puppy into the bed when they are very young, that’s where they will stay. It is always a good idea to let them used to sleeping in the crate before letting them sleep with you. You can take the puppy out in the morning and if you go back to bed, put them on the bed for that short time, I think we all do that without hindering the crate training.
It is very important to keep the crate close to your bed at night until puppy gets comfortable in their new home, eventually, you will be able to move the crate away, if you so desire in small steps.. away from the bed, by the bedroom door, down the hallway.. You will also be able to teach your dog (when he/she is older) to sleep on their own bed in your bedroom.
Vizslas love to be close to their people and they are most comfortable and happy sleeping close to you. There is nothing better to make me fall asleep than sleep sounds my dogs make.
Please call us or email us, if you are experiencing any problems with your crate training, remember, we are here 24/7 to help you out. We know our dogs and the parents and can help in giving you directions on behavior modification of YOUR puppy.