Crate training is important when raising your pet and the earlier you start, the better. Even though you might rarely ask your dog or cat to be inside, it will be useful whenever there are times throughout your pet’s life when they need to be confined to a cage or crate such as at the veterinarian, in the airplane, or while in a boarding facility.
Beware: If you wait until the day you actually need to transport your pet in a carrier, it will likely turn out to be a disaster. You’ll be frustrated and exhausted because your pet is likely going to be scared and refuse to enter this small, closed space. Understandable, right?
Especially if you are planning to travel via airplane at some point, have a look at our tips on how to get your furry ones used to being in a crate:
- Start by standing in front of your pet’s crate and showing them some valuable treats.
- Say the cue word (something like “go inside”) and throw the treats into the back of the crate. As soon as your pet walks into the crate to get the treats, praise them. (If you use a clicker to train your dog, click as soon as they enter.) If your pet is reluctant, take baby steps and praise them for every small move they make further into the crate.
- Repeat this process several times until your pet is enthusiastic to enter the crate.
- Once they are more comfortable inside the crate you can start closing the door for a few seconds. Slowly work your way up to a minute, five minutes etc. Be careful to not scare your pet along the way, if they get nervous it’s a sign you went too fast and you should slow down with your crate training
- If your pet is comfortable in the carrier, try to move them around in it or take a trip to a pleasant place. If you don’t make any progress or you’re stuck at one of the steps for too long, don’t be pushy or get upset. Be patient and possibly upgrade the reward. If you used dog treats, try cooked chicken etc.
- Give your pet time to explore the crate by themselves. Leave it open ( consider to fix the door to stay open, so they won’t ‘accidentally’ close it and panic ) and place their favorite blanket, toys or bones inside of it.
Crate training requires time but will likely pay off at some point. Most importantly be patient, don’t force anything and don’t be cheap with the rewards. Best of luck!