While there are some who see training crates for dogs as cruel, you should refrain from adopting such a position yourself. As we are about to find out, crates are both safety and training devices designed to benefit both the dog and the owner. Not only will crate training on a humane schedule teach your puppy proper bowel and bladder control but it will also limit teething damage to your personal effects.
Know that if your dog is crated in a vehicle, it will have a better chance of surviving a motor vehicle accident and unlikely to cause one. At the same time, most motels and inns will provide mats for people who promise to crate their pets. And after the training, the pet will feel comfortable when left alone in its own “room”.
Table of Contents
- What is crate training?
- How do you crate train your dog?
- Is crate training a German Shepherd necessary?
- How long can you hold a German Shepherd in a crate?
- Choosing a dog training crate
- My recommendation for a wire crate:
What is crate training?
Crate training involves getting the puppy comfortable with crates and associating the crate with a good experience. The dog should start seeing the crate as an enjoyable and comfortable bed or den.
In this respect, the dog should not associate the crate with prison or a place they go to get negative discipline. If the crate is good, the German shepherd should enjoy sleeping in it. Bear in mind that you should never confine the dog in a crate for longer periods than necessary.
How do you crate train your dog?
After you have decided that crate training is the right way to go, and after selecting a crate that suits your dog, you will have to follow a training process for your pup.
Even though the length of time you will need to train a dog highly depends on the animal, the attitude, past experiences, and age, the dog should associate the crate with something pleasant. This is also valid for a grown-up dog where baby steps will work best if taken with caution.
Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate
Before you get the puppy into the new crate or near it, place the crate somewhere in the room that your dog spends most of its time. Open or remove the door of the crate so that the pet can feel secure about exploring it at will. If the dog shies away naturally, you should not force it to get familiar with the crate lest you cause the dog any strife.
As often as possible, sit beside the crate and start speaking to the puppy in friendly tones, place treats around the crate, and then inside to influence him to step in. You can place familiar toys or blankets in the crate as well.
Step 2: Start feeding the dog in the crate
After the dog is comfortable entering and spending some time inside the wire crate, you should start feeding them their meals inside the new home. Depending on the pet’s comfort level, you can place the food at the back of the crate or in the middle if the dog is wary. When the dog starts eating inside, close the door and open it immediately after it finishes eating. In time, they will learn to eat with the door closed. As soon as that happens, start increasing the time to 10 minutes or so and work your way up from there.
If the dog starts whining at this stage, it is a sign that you are moving too fast. If this should occur, go back to the length of time the dog was comfortable with and start moving slowly forward from that point. If the dog whines again, do not let him out until it stops because it is likely to associate whining with asking to get out. That is obviously a bad habit and you do not want to develop it.
Step 3: Make short stays
After the pet starts eating and spending a little time in the crate after a meal without any signs of distress, you should start crating it for shorter periods of time, provided that you are at home when this happens. Call the dog into the crate with treats and accompanying commands – most people use “kennel up” or “kennel’ – and after the dog is inside, provide it with another treat. Afterward, shut the door and sit quietly with the dog for several minutes before you let it out. You may give him praise and an additional treat if you see fit.
From this point onward, start adding in minutes to the schedule slowly and walk away from the crate until the dog starts sitting comfortably for 20-30 minutes even when you are out of sight. Once you have reached this stage, you can start leaving the dog crated for a few hours when you are out of the house. When returning to the crated dog, do it quietly to discourage excitement in any way.
Step 4: Make extended stays
Whether it has taken you eight days or eight weeks to get to this stage, you should now start leaving the dog in the crate for longer periods or throughout the night if he does not show any signs of anxiety. Apart from the system you have already established, you should vary the crating.
By crating the pup and leaving him the whole night or day, he will start associating the crate with being alone. Crate him for several minutes before you leave and keep him closer at night. After they know that crating is not a punishment or a way of social isolation, you can move the crate to any place inside the house you like.
Is crate training a German Shepherd necessary?
You can use a crate for various purposes with your German Shepherd – both puppies and old dogs. The main uses include:
- House and general obedience training to minimize barking, jumping, and chewing. The training is necessary when isolating newborn babies from the mother.
- Potty training
- The crate functions as a home for the German shepherd after the user places a bed/mattress.
- The crate is safe, portable, and comfortable for the pet. It is, therefore, a better choice if you opt to travel with the dog or to leave him in the local day-care center.
- Separation Anxiety Training, which is important when separating the German Shepherd from your person for extended periods of time.
How long can you hold a German Shepherd in a crate?
A crate should be a short term training device for situations like air travel where the use of a crate for extended periods is necessary. Do not use the crate as a substitute for free space because you might end up causing the dog a wide range of psychological issues over time.
Know that most people allow their German Shepherds to sleep in a crate, which is ok if the pet does not show any signs of discomfort or distress. Make sure that the dog gets toilet breaks when this happens.
Choosing a dog training crate
Dog training crates are available in several colors, sizes, and styles to choose from. The most common crates are the open wire crates and airline shipping crates, which come with metal trays at the bottom. If you are planning to air travel frequently with your dog or if your dog prefers to sit in darkness, a molded-plastic crate is a good choice.
Know that manufacturers usually base the size of a crate on the size or age of a dog. In this regard, the crate should offer adequate space for the dog to stand up, turn in circles, and lie down completely. The crate also serves as a comfortable place for the dog to rest and it should not play the role of an exercise pen in any meaningful way.
If you require a crate to use as the housebreaking aid, the size is definitely important. Bear in mind that if the crate allows your dog to coil on one corner and then lie comfortably on the other, it will likely not serve its purpose. It is vital in that you keep the size of your dog in mind when shopping for a crate.
My recommendation for a wire crate:
AmazonBasics Single Door and Double Door Folding Metal Dog Crate
AmazonBasics offers a Double Dour Crate, which comes with all the features you require in a high-quality and durable crate to use for a long time. The manufacturer designs the crate to provide your pet with increased safety and security, while also designing it in a way that will ensure that your work of caring for the pet is easier. Apart from enabling you to train your dog easily, the sturdy metal construction will ensure easier portability and lasting performance.
The double door design allows convenient entry from the front and the side. As such, the manufacturer fits slide bolts on each door that latches easily to ensure the security and safety of your dog at all times. Furthermore, its sturdy metal construction is guaranteed to withstand rough usage and last for a very long time under normal circumstances. What’s more, the crate comes with a composite plastic pan that you can remove easily along with a divider panel.
- The crate is easier to use thanks to the double-door design and the removable pan.
- It is durable due to the metal wire and the rounded corners which ensure an added standard of safety for your dog.
- The crate accommodates puppies and adult dogs.
- The assembly part is somewhat difficult.
- The crate might not hold an overly aggressive dog.
Rules help us understand our boundaries and places and the same applies to dogs. Crate training is supposed to establish a hierarchy while the dog learns what is allowed and what isn’t allowed.
By confining the dog to a crate, you will limit the dog’s access to areas the house and circumvent the chances of the pup chewing the furniture at any given time. For effective crate training, you just need to follow the proper steps and you’ll be good to go.