Caysun's learning to love the crate. It's important for any dog to accept crating, but especially important for a service pup in training. When Caysun returns to Service Dogs of Virginia, she'll need to be crated frequently while the other service dogs in training are rotated in to their training sessions. She'll also need to be crated after she's spayed or if she's injured and the vet orders crate rest.
Here's how I start the "Crate Love" process:
- All meals are fed to Caysun in the crate. That means that at least three times a day, good things are associated with that area.
- When it's time for a nap, I put Caysun and a Kong filled with a little peanut butter in the crate. As she's licking the peanut butter out (a pleasant experience), she usually falls asleep (another pleasant experience for her).
- When I have a treat for her, I deliver it into the crate.
- I move the crate from room to room, so there's no "right" spot for the crate to be. The crate is good no matter what room, what view, what surroundings. The crate is what makes it "right" to be there.
Just today, 4 days into the "Crate Love" program, she dragged a toy into her crate to play with it. Sweet success! I want Caysun to think of her crate as her space, a spot where she can relax, where good things always happen.
I haven't yet put crating on cue. I'll work on that after I've developed Crate Love a bit more. I can put the behavior on cue any time, but it's crucial that I have good feelings associated with crating first.
As I type, she's fast asleep in the crate, dreaming happy puppy dreams…
Love this Laurie! She naps in the crate, does she also sleep in the crate at night? I know some puppy moms/dads tend to skip to this step too soon and sometime end up hurting the process of crate love! There’s also the issue of “I must put the dog in the crate when we leave.” Trying to explain it’s a process to people is sometimes difficult to get across. This blog will help many! 🙂
Laurie Luck says
Hi Jo, thanks for stopping by! Yes, Caysun’s in the crate at bedtime and all throughout the night. She’ll wake me up once or twice, but it’s always because she has to go to the bathroom. She’s quick about it: outside to do her business, then right back in and off to dreamland. She’s quite the easy pup (so far)!
When I adopted my first dogs, I thought of crates as cages and thought I was being mean if I used one. After thousands of dollars of damage (literally; Agatha and Christie ate two sofas) I wish I had learned much sooner about Crate Love.
This is such an easy way of explaining how pleasant a crate can be to a pup if it’s introduced in the right way.
Pup Fan says
This is such useful info! I wish I’d known how to create crate love when I first got Bella. We tried it for a while, but she never really took to it. For the most part, she’s good at home by herself, but it would be good to have options and a place for her to think of as hers. I’ll definitely be trying these techniques with our next pup.
I make the crate (for new dogs) a wonderful playpen. The dog can only play with certain toys, that are only for the crate 😉 Some rubber bones also. Just like you, they are only fed in the crate.
I love it when the dog will take a toy, that’s not for the crate, into it to play. I also love it when the dog will just go into the crate to chill, and have some alone time with no prompting.
BTW: I am loving reading about Caysun and day to day activities, that will set this pup up for success. 😉
Laurie Luck says
Oooh, yes, the best lessons are usually the hardest (or most expensive) to learn! I used to think crates (I called them cages, actually, way back when) were cruel, too. ‘Til someone showed me how useful they were and it was like a lightbulb! 🙂
Laurie Luck says
Some dogs are great without the crate, but others (like my Labrador, Lily) need to be crated for many years. The service dogs will be crated during their final training phase while another dog is being trained, so it’s really important that they’re comfortable with the process. And it’s just so easy to teach to a youngster. Because they have no previous crate experience, we can shape that experience to be fantastic! 🙂 I plan on teaching my next (permanent) dog, Crate Love as well, even though he won’t be a service dog. It’s such a handy skill for any dog to have.
Laurie Luck says
Yes! I love making the crate great. It’s fun to watch, isn’t it?!
Hello, we have a new puppy, but she does not love the crate … She pretty much hates it. She loves to poop in the crate, so everyone has told me to make her space smaller. Right now, I would not be able to feed her in there because only she will fit. So, would you suggest giving her more space so that she could eat, play, etc in there? Bed, or no bed? Thanks for your help. I don’t know what I’m doing, and I feel like we are going backwards.
Laurie Luck says
Hi Liz, I would make it larger right now. She doesn’t need enough space to play in there — just enough space to lay down (comfortably, not squished into a ball), stand up, and turn around. That kind of space gives her enough room to also eat in the crate as well.
Is she a pet store puppy, by chance? They are often crate-poopers because their little feet rarely touched the grass — they HAD to poop in the crate.
How old is your pup? How long have you had her? Where did she come from (pet store, newspaper, shelter/rescue, etc.)?
Thank you so much for your reply. I did make the space bigger, and actually she has a bed that she likes, so I put that in there, and she is doing better. I take the bed out to feed her, and she is also doing okay with that. Still sometimes pooping in the crate, but it is getting better. She still doesn’t love to poop outside, but I have definitely seen improvements this week for sure. When she poops outside, she wants to be hidden behind a bush or shrub. Is that normal? I guess some dogs just want some privacy?
She actually is NOT a pet-store puppy. I got her from a breeder, but I think he was using puppy pads. She was outside to play a lot I think, so she should be familiar with grass (and, she does well with peeing outside). She is about 11.5 weeks old. We have had her for 3 weeks now, BUT the second week, I had to travel so my husband was in charge of the kids and the puppy (i.e. survival mode). And on top of that, we have no idea what we are doing!
Like I said, I have seen improvements in the past week, but I would still take any advice you have!