One of the most honored training tools for many dog owners has been the crate. It teaches your dog so many incredible things that it almost feels like it made some parts of training too easy. Once your dog is housebroken, potty trained, and has a sense of independence, you can start thinking about phasing out crate training entirely.
We will take you through a few ways you can get your dog to stop having to use a crate. It can’t just be done overnight, so let’s go over the entire process of how your dog will get used to living without their crate.
When Can Crate Training Stop
You can put an end to crate training when your dog is no longer dependent on their crate. This can be defined by several different factors.
You can start phasing out crate training when your dog:
- Can wait for a walk to go to the bathroom
- Is comfortable with being left alone
- Does not chew things that aren’t supposed to be chewed
Phasing out the crate training process
When your dog has learned all there is from the crate training process, you can start to phase out the crate entirely. This can done in a few different ways. We’re going to tell you a bunch of different ways to get your dog to become more comfortable and reliable without it’s crate.
(Optional)Consider keeping the crate long-term
This is completely up to you. The benefit from keeping a crate long-term is your dog will have a place to itself. This gives them a safe place they can feel comfortable and in control. You can keep the door open, or remove the door entirely. This would effectively be your dogs personal space to sleep and chew on toys.
Leave your dog un-crated longer and longer
When starting out, you will only want to leave your dog un-crated for a short period of time. A reasonable amount to time to begin with should be somewhere between five to fifteen minutes. The idea is to let your dog know you will be coming back soon.
If your dog has gotten used to being left alone for fifteen minutes, bring that number up to thirty minutes. The more time your dog can be left alone at home, the longer you can push the alone time. It is important that you continue to return home to check up on them. Letting your dog get into bad habits can set you back in the entire process.
Make sure your dog has been exercised
When curbing any dog’s behavioral habits, it is important to make sure they don’t have pent up energy. When phasing out crate training, make sure your dog isn’t going to get into trouble.
The best way to make sure your dog behaves while you’re gone is to give them enough exercise. The ideal situation for phasing out crate training is that your dog wants to nap while you’re away.
Having to go backward
Sometimes, you will find that your dog wasn’t ready to be left alone for such a long time. Find a gentle way to tell your dog that what they’ve done is not acceptable. The next time you leave the house, have them stay in their crate. Note: they shouldn’t be forced into their crate.
By leaving your house and crating your dog, you are teaching them that trust has to be earned. When they get into bad habits when left alone, they will show you that they can’t be trusted to be left out of their crate. Dogs are smarter than you think, and they will often know if they did something they aren’t supposed to.
How long can crate training take?
It can take as long as it takes. There is no guaranteed amount of time that it will take. Your results will vary depending on the conditions that your dog has gone through. Even if you followed a specific process perfectly, your dog will respond uniquely to crate training.
You can expect the entire process to last at least a few months. Since dogs are routine animals, it takes time to create and change their habits. Most of the habits need to be exercised daily or even multiple times per day.
Why is crate training not working
Your crate training may not be working for a number of reasons. It is important to make sure both you and your dog are going about the process in a correct manner. There are many small things you may not even notice you are doing.
Some reasons crate training is not working:
- You are giving your dog attention if it is whining in its crate, especially at night.
- The crate is not the right size for your dog
- The crate may be placed in a location that your dog cannot relax
- You’ve been using the crate as a way to punish your dog
Can Crate Training Stunt Growth
The short answer is no. Your dog will continue to grow as it should, granted that it is getting enough nutrition and exercise. Most dogs will eventually refuse to enter their crate if it is too small for them. The idea behind crate training effectively, is that your dog enters the crate willingly.
When your dog stops entering the crate willingly, that means something is wrong. One main reason is they feel too cramped once they are inside. The stress of spending an extended period of time inside a crate is enough for them to speak out about it.
You can read this article on PetMD about factors that stunt a dog’s growth. As you can see in this list, crate training is not mentioned.
Crate Training With Kong
Giving your dog something to do while it’s crated can help to negate the effects of boredom. When your dog is starting out with crate training, they may have trouble focusing on anything besides the fact that you have locked them in a crate. Giving your dog something like a Kong toy is a fantastic way to keep them entertained.
The reason we suggest a Kong is because of its fantastic reputation for being able to keep a dog busy. Being a bright-colored toy while being able to add food into the equation, has helped many dogs spend a little time in their crate before coming to realize they are even crated.