Having a puppy who runs into his crate on command is more than just a convenience - it can keep him safe too. For example, if a glass breaks in the kitchen, giving your puppy the "crate" command can keep him away from the broken glass until it has been cleaned up. If guests stop by unexpectedly, or if your puppy comes into the house muddy, if for any reason it's necessary to get your puppy out from underfoot, the "crate" command can be very useful.
It's also an easy command to teach and, if you practice a few times every day, you'll have a puppy who, in no time at all, runs into his crate happily.
Before you begin, check to see that your crate doesn't slip or rattle against a hard floor. Both things can spook a puppy and make him nervous about approaching his crate. If necessary, put an old towel underneath the crate (between the crate and your floor) to keep it quiet and in one place.
Many wire crates have a gap at the entrance. To prevent your puppy's toes from inadvertently sliding into the gap you may want to drape a towel across the opening.
Decide on a cue word that will be used consistently, such as "crate" or "kennel."
You're now ready to start training. Don't forget to have a few treats on hand to reward your puppy during training. The treats make the training fun for your puppy and help him to understand what behavior you expect from him.
Prop the crate door open. Get your puppy's attention and show him the treat you are holding. Approach the crate and toss the treat in. If your puppy leaps in after it, great! If your puppy doesn't rush into the crate right away be patient. Encourage him and reward him for whatever he is willing to do. After a few times of being rewarded for putting his head into the opening of the crate, your puppy should be more than happy to put one foot in, then two, and then you're on your way.
Once you know your pup will go into the crate on his own, give the cue word as you toss the treat in. Be sure to continue to show your pup the treat and get his attention before you move toward the crate. As your puppy becomes more familiar with this command, showing him the treat prior to giving the command will become unnecessary - hearing the cue word will be enough.
Cut down on the treats
Over time, toss the treat less and less. The aim of the treat in training is first to communicate to your puppy the behavior you expect, and then to reward your puppy when he obeys your commands. However, if you use a treat all the time, your puppy may fail to obey unless he gets a treat.
After a few days of practice, and when your puppy is comfortable with the command, randomly fake toss a treat into his crate when giving him the command. Your pup should enter out of habit, and he should be praised enthusiastically - but no treat this time. Sometimes toss a treat in, other times fake toss a treat into his crate.
Eventually, most pups will try standing at the door of their crate looking in, but not going in. If you wait a few seconds, most pups will go into the crate on their own. Reward them when they do. Do not - repeat - do not toss a treat into the back of the crate when your puppy pauses like that. If you do, you've just rewarded that pause with a treat. Instead, simply move away and try again or gently guide your puppy into his crate, then reward him with lots of praise.
By using these simple steps you can train your pup to go into his crate eagerly on command and that is not only impressive, it can be very helpful as well.
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