The Great Crate

The crate is a marvelous
tool: Good for short stints of alone time and for getting your dog to settle
down, great for house-training and travel. Worried a crate is just one step up
from imprisonment? No need. Like coyotes and wolves, dogs are den animals that
enjoy close quarters. That said, it would be unkind to simply deposit a dog in
a crate if he’s never seen one before—it would also likely trigger loud and long-lasting
objections. Here are some tips for making the great crate a success:

Use irresistible treats. Treats, comestible and in toy form, are the way
to get your dog to fall in love with his crate. Stock up on liver treats,
Natural Balance, chicken bits, or whatever makes your dog sit up and take
notice. Make sure you have a favorite toy or chewie set aside for crate
training time, and don’t break out that particular goody for anything else.

Go slow.
Only gradually increase the amount of time you ask your dog to spend in the
crate during crate training. Likewise for the amount of time you leave him
alone in the crate once he’s used to it. Going slowly is the key to success.
Remember, you’re building a positive association to last a canine lifetime.

Exercise first. Make sure your dog has had a good workout before each crate training
session. Crate training goes faster and works better if your dog has worked up
an appetite and—for when you get far enough in the training program to leave
him alone in there—is nice and tired and ready for a snooze.

Note: Never leave your
dog in the crate for more than 3–4 hours at a time, except for bedtime.