A crate, or, in other words, short-term close confinement, can be used to help dogs teach themselves two very important skills. The first is eliminating only when and where it is appropriate. The second skill is keeping out of trouble – behaving appropriately in the house. Without these two skills, a dog doesn’t have much of a chance in this world.

To get your dog to go into the crate, start with the crate door open, and toss some irresistibly yummy treats inside. If he is hesitant to go in after them, toss the treats close enough to the doorway that he can stand outside and just poke his nose in the crate to eat them. If you are training with a clicker or other reward marker, each time he eats a treat, Click! the clicker (or say «Yes!» if you are using a verbal marker).

Gradually toss the treats farther and farther into the crate until he steps inside to get them. Continue to Click! each time he eats a treat. When he enters the crate easily to get the treats, Click! and offer him a treat while he is still inside. If he is willing to stay inside, keep clicking and treating. If he comes out that’s okay too, just toss another treat inside and wait for him to re-enter. Don’t try to force him to stay in the crate. When he enters the crate to get the treat without hesitation, you can start using a verbal cue such as «Go to bed» as he goes in, so that you will eventually be able to send him into his crate on just a verbal cue.

When your dog will stay in the crate with the door closed for at least 10 seconds without any signs of anxiety, close the door, latch it, and take one step away from the crate. Click!, return to the crate, reward, and open the door. Repeat this step, varying the time and distance you leave the crate.

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