Made Crazy by Crating
Q: I’m attempting to get my dog accustomed to being in a crate/carrier so that she can travel with me in-cabin when I fly home over the holidays to visit my family, but every time I try and crate her, she cries and barks and screams so relentlessly that I cave and let her out. Please help!—Made Crazy By Crate Training
A: It sounds like your dog has learned that barking and screaming gets her what she wants! Now, I am a rewardbased trainer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in boundaries and rules. You should be able to have your dog meet your expectations for good behaviour, including peacefully relaxing in her crate or carrier.
Crates are wonderful training tools (especially for house training), a necessity for travel, and a safe place your dog as a den animal can come to love, but it’s necessary to first properly introduce your dog to a crate and teach her that confinement is a good thing. If your adult dog already has a negative association with a crate, you will need to start training over from scratch. It sometimes helps to get a different type of crate so it will be new. Have a clicker (or use a verbal marker like “Yes”) and lots of treats. Have the crate door open and click and treat for any interest or movement towards the crate.
Gradually shape her to where she goes in the crate for her clicks and treats. When she’s going in regularly, shut the door behind her and feed her some extra special treats through the crate door, then open it. Work on leaving her in the crate for longer and longer periods of time.
Give her food-stuffed toys for longer periods. Do not let her out of the crate if she is screaming and barking—that’s not what you want to teach her. Only let her out when she is quiet. With some practice you should have your dog trip-ready and contentedly enjoying her crate in no time!
Teoti Anderson, CPDT, owns Pawsitive Results (getpawsitiveresults.com), and is the past president of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She is the author of Your Outta Control Puppy, Super Simple Guide to Housetraining, Quick and Easy Crate Training, and Puppy Care and Training.