Training your dog to see the crate, or the carrier as a safe and comfortable place is very important. Follow the 5 easy exercises below, and your dog will learn to love the crate (carrier).
1. Start out on the Right Paw
As with any training, make sure you set up a nurturing and supportive training environment. When you first introduce the crate, or the pet carrier, just allow the dog to explore it on his own terms. To do so, set up the carrier or crate inside your home, close to the area your dog normally sleeps. Put a used dog bed or blanket inside. Don't use a new one, because you want your dog's familiar smell inside the crate/carrier.
You can place a few of your dog's favorite treats near and inside the crate/carrier and allow the dog to sniff around it for the rest of the day.
Please do not lock your dog inside the crate or carrier right away. Leave the door open, so the dog can enter and exit on his own terms.
2. Make it a Game
The next day, play a fun game with your dog by tossing her favorite toy inside the crate or carrier. If the dog is still hesitant to go inside the crate/carrier, place the toy just inside the entrance, so the dog only has to reach in. As she gets more comfortable, you can place the toy (or treat) further toward the inside of the crate/carrier until the dog is comfortable going in and out of the crate/carrier.
Use a command, like "kennel" every time you toss the toy or treat inside the carrier/crate. This will teach your dog to go into the crate/carrier on command. Don't push or physically drag your dog into the crate/carrier. Allow the dog to go in on her own terms.
Ensure the crate is not making a lot of noise. It is helpful to place it on a carpeted area, and for real timid dogs, take the door off completely in the first few stages of crate training.
3. Food makes the heart go fonder
After your dog is comfortable to walk in and out of the crate, start to feed him inside for several days in a row. Put his food in the far back of the crate/carrier. If you feed dry food, you can even put the food into the carrier or crate without a bowl. Don't place any water inside, it usually just makes a mess.
4. Positive association
Please be sure to start your crate/carrier training early on. Give your pet several weeks before you actually travel with him in the crate/carrier. Now that he has eaten his meals inside the crate, you can start putting the door back on, and teach him to stay inside the crate/carrier for a few minutes at a time.
Say the command, and toss a treat inside the crate/carrier. Gently close the door when he is inside. Wait for a few moments, then let him come back out.
5. Consistency over time teaches
Start using the crate overnight, or when you leave the home for short periods of time. If you are training a dog to love the pet carrier, start taking your dog with you on short trips. Have her spend some time in the carrier while you carry it around. Remember, your dog will have to stay in the carrier for longer, if you will travel with her. Condition her to stay quiet and calm.
I hope the information provided is helpful to you or someone you know. Please share the post to your Facebook feed, and comment below on your experience with the pet carrier or crate.
Until next time: Keep Your Paws on the Road!