One day, I came home at lunch to find my trash dug out from under the sink. There wasn't much in it, but there was some red velvet cake that I had tossed out and some old chicken I hadn't finished for the week. (While I'm sure this was delish to this hound while he was gobbling it down, it sure made his tummy upset that night.) I decided he would spend the rest of the day in my bedroom until I could get some child locks for the sink cupboard. Unfortunately, Cooper has already marked on my bed, and he showed me that he's not done with that yet either.
After installing the child locks I picked up at The Home Depot, I came home to my trash dug out once again, the cupboard door chewed up and the child lock broken. There wasn't much in the trash, but it was clear to me he knew there were goodies located under the kitchen sink. We went to Petco that night to pick up some dog food and when I came home to put it away, I noticed that digging the trash out from under the sink wasn't the only way Cooper was passing his time while I was at work; he was also digging at my food pantry door.
I live by a few rules when I crate train:
- Never use the crate as punishment. A crate should be your dog's den, a warm and cozy place for him or her to stay when you are not around, or for sleeping. When I'm getting the pup used to the crate, I'll feed them in it and give them treats to encourage them to get inside. When I leave for the day, Cooper gets a Kong stuffed with food (that I freeze) and a couple of cookies when he goes into the crate. This helps him know the crate is a happy place. In fact, on a Saturday when I can't find him, I'll look in his crate and find him patiently waiting for me to give him his Kong. Dogs certainly are creatures of habit.
- Never put a dog in a crate for more than five hours at a time. Dogs are social animals, and need interaction with others as well as exercise. Cooper and I usually walk two miles a day, sometimes more, and we play with toys frequently throughout the day. I also organize play dates with other people and dogs, as well as participate in the Foundation's Yappy Hours. And, when I come home for lunch to let him out, I try to keep him out of it for an hour before he goes back into it.
- Make sure the crate is the correct size for your dog. It's a good idea to know your dog's weight and height when purchasing a crate. Or, even better, take them with you when you look at crates. I purchased a large wire crate for Cooper. Yes, this size is bigger than what Cooper needs, but I now know that he has adequate space to get comfortable in.
- Crate training might not be for your dog. There are some dogs with separation anxiety that could hurt themselves or cause even more damage if put into a crate. I'm not expert on these situations, so please consult a trainer and do some research online.
Now, there are other tips and tricks to crate training, and I felt it best to send you to some reputable organizations to learn more about it; you can find them below. But, if you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments. Or, contact a pet trainer in the area.