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Training & Behaviour

How to Use a Dog Crate to Train Your Dog

Training with a dog crateWhen adding a new four legged canine member to your family, there are so many things to consider: from insurance to vet checks to all the accessories and food you need to buy for your new pet. As well as welcoming your new friend into your home with all these wonderful toys and comforts, it is important to remember that your relationship should be built on trust - as such you will need to train your pet to maintain a good relationship and prevent against any mishaps.

Why are dog crates important?

Dogs are den animals and as such, enjoy a bed or hideaway from the noises of household life. As well as a sanctuary away from hustle and bustle, crates are a valuable training tool that can help with toilet training, prevent a fear of strangers or other dogs and provide a safe travelling environment.

Where should I place the crate?

Crates should be placed in the corner of a room, away from draughts to provide a cosy and safe bed for the dog. Crate training itself can begin at a young age and should continue at least until a dog is out of the chewing phase - unless required for travelling. Of course, crates work well for older dogs with behavioural issues and continued use of the crate can help to alleviate these problems, no matter how deep set they are.

How do I use it to start training?

By building up the amount of time the crate door is shut and getting the dog used to being in the crate both when you are home and away, training can begin. Most dogs will not soil in their crate as it is their bed or den and as such, they are more likely to keep it clean. By using the crate as a safe zone for the dog when visitors come or if you have to go out, any mishaps such as over zealous behaviour or chewing can be avoided.

It is important to remember that the crate is not a punishment and thus the dog must never be punished whilst in the crate, as he/she may associate it with negative happenings. Whilst your dog is in the crate, make sure to keep it comfortable with a stimulating toy and plenty of blankets to create a good habitat for calmness and good behaviour.

What else can help to train my dog?

As well as crate training, many owners find it useful to socialise their new dog or puppy at training classes - these take place across the UK in locations such as town halls or parks. As well as providing an opportunity for your dog to interact with other canines, training classes help address any issues such as running away when off the lead or lacking concentration when other dogs are around. Chatting with other dog lovers and sharing stories may also help you formulate more successful training strategies with minimal stress.

Combined with classes, basic training commands such as: sit, stay, lie or heel can be taught and reinforced at home or out on walks. Many people find that clicker training or giving treats as a reward help greatly with basic training. However, never use physical or violent corrections if your dog is disobedient, as it may be that the problem is down to a communication barrier.

What about rewards and punishments?

Rewards and punishments can be performed by using positive or negative reinforcements. Positive reinforcements include: treats, praise or playing with a favourite toy. Negative reinforcements can include ignoring the dog and not praising the bad behaviour. In extreme cases, harnesses such as a no pull harness, headcollar or spray collar are used. However, most trainers try to concentrate on positive reinforcement methods.

Rupert Brown

Rupert owns and runs Muddy Paws with his wife Emma. Having set up the company when Oscar was a puppy 8 years ago (the famous chief tester here at Muddy Paws HQ), Rupert has lots of experience when it comes to looking after a canine companion. Visit Rupert's Google+ profile.

Rupert Brown

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