If you’ve done good homework and chosen a breeder who home-raised puppies, chances are good, Bozo will already be familiar with a crate.
Many dogs I know will seek out a cave-like space under a desk or behind a chair next to a wall so we know the ‘cave’ concept is acceptable to them. The crate is Bozo’s moveable haven. It needs to be big enough for him to move and turn around in, but not so big that he’ll want to eliminate in it. It needs a washable pad or cushion in it. You’ll want to have the crate near you most of the time when you’re at home – in the kitchen, the TV room, your home office or bedroom.
You, too, need to think of the crate as a haven, a safe space for Bozo. I used to think of crates as unpleasant confinement. When I got Gus, a 9 week old puppy, long before I knew what I now know, I had none of the necessary skills to crate train him. His barking, screaming, hootin’ & hollerin’ won. He was never crate trained and it took me 9 months to teach him where the appropriate toilet was!
Smack in the head, Jude! What did I do wrong? EVERYTHING.
So let’s crate train YOUR puppy from the start, beginning on the day you bring him home.
If he’s never seen a crate before, put one in his long-term confinement area on the opposite side from his indoor toilet. Have the door propped open. Let him take his time and sniff it. You can put a couple of pieces of kibble inside to entice him to investigate.
Did I mention that training is best done when Bozo is hungry?
Before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner and before his evening feed… you will need four meals a day until he’s 12 -14 weeks. Hang in! This gets easier.
Now he’s outside the crate.
”What’s next?” says he.
Let him watch you as you scatter a small handful of kibble in the crate. Then close the door with Bozo on the outside. He’ll paw the door, asking to go in. Open the door and let him in to eat the kibble. Close the door for 10 seconds. You can repeat this procedure for each meal on Day 1. That’s four times.
On Day 2, at lunchtime, close the door for a minute. Gradually increase the closed-door times.
Did we talk about measuring Bozo’s daily ration of kibble into a small bag or container each day? This is important. This is your working/training ration for the day. We’re NOT aiming to have an overweight dog.
When you close the door of the crate at lunchtime on Day 2, it is unlikely Bozo will object. If he does, wait for the MOMENT of quiet and open the door immediately. Under NO circumstances open the door while Bozo is fussing.
Feed him part of each of his next two meals for Day 2 in the crate with the door open.
Try closing the door again first meal on Day 3.
This is a general rule in training: If you move past the level of Bozo’s acceptance or understanding, back up to the previously tolerated step e.g. eating inside the crate, door open.
If you force him, he’ll do it for sure but you will lose valuable trust and respect that will hinder teaching all future behaviors.
More on Bozo’s safe place in Part 2…
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