Make Crate Training Fun!
Since I have been homebound lately while recovering from health issues and waiting for my medicine to kick in, I have been working with Oakley, our new Border Collie puppy, on some new training challenges. So far Oakley has already done mat work and sleeps soundly in her exercise pen with crate attached overnight.
However I rarely lock her inside of the crate itself because we haven’t gone through all the training steps I prefer yet to decrease stress and build comfort in the crate.
I thought it was definitely time to start teaching her to love her crate! First, I trained her to go to the bed you see in the crate in this video before placing it in the crate. I just rewarded for one paw after another on the bed until she seemed almost magnetically attracted to the bed.
In the above video, I moved the bed into her crate and she walked right in. You can see me rewarding her for remaining in the crate. If she leaves the crate, treats stop. However sticking around to get those treats is her choice! This builds great confidence in the puppy and makes them feel like they are in control of whether or not they enter the crate.
Then I start asking her for more time in the crate in between treats. Next, I play with the door and start to close it some and reward if she stays in place. You can see the idea of the gate closing is not her favorite because she starts to get up and look more alert. This was the part I left off at because you want them to succeed and feel like they owned the game! Soon we will build up to shutting the door completely and then locking the door – as well as quiet time in the crate being rewarded.
In all, the behavior you see in this video (including going to the bed) took less than twenty minutes to teach to Oakley. (and no one gets to use the “she’s a border collie” excuse! Too many of my clients will tell you their dogs got it just as fast, if not faster!) Definitely worth it to not have to shove an angry and scared puppy into a crate every night!