#1: Crate Training

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Hopefully you are already doing it, and that’s great. (New to crate training? Here are some helpful instructions.) Being left alone in a small space is good for your dog to learn. It’s great for housetraining, general structure, and peace-of-mind. A crate creates a much-needed “den” for your dog as he adjusts to the newness (and stress) of your home.

But I’ll bet you are missing a key component of it.

Do you ever crate the dog when you are home? You should—an hour here, two hours there, whenever you need to get something done, or “just because.” Most people forget or ignore this part, because when they are home, they want to be with the dog (understandable, but not always in the dog’s best interests), and they feel bad about her having to be crated so much when they are not home.

But if your dog is only crated when you leave, how do you think he will feel about the crate? Crating when you are home gives you the opportunity to:  get some stuff done without setting the dog up to practice the wrong behavior; have guests or strangers over before the dog is really prepared for that kind of event; and, reward quiet (calm release from crate).

It teaches your dog that she can endure being separated from you, so that when she is actually separated from you, she won’t fret. Teaching the dog that she can weather your absences without undue stress—something a social animal does NOT instinctively understand and must learn ─ is one of the kindest things you can do for a dog.

Use the crate to create safe boundaries, set the dog up for success, and keep chaos and stress at bay. Use the crate as a tool to further your relationship, provide structure, and comfort the dog. Use the crate because you need a break, and so does he. It works.

Stay tuned for #2 on my list of Things You Didn’t Know You Needed To Do For Your New Dog or Puppy.