Once again, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there, but every dog is different isn’t it? I wasn’t able to find a video that would suit my training needs, and I’m guessing most dog owners might just face the same issue… so I’m sharing my experience in hopes that the “principles” behind my methods, rather than my methods itself, would apply for your doggos…
Situation: Wenzel (my doggo) is going to relocate in 3 months time, and I need him to get comfortable with being inside a crate to prepare for his journey on the plane to Indonesia, to the quarantine center, and then to my home from quarantine. So I’ve bought the crate already, but he is so wary of going inside it or coming near it. No amount of treats can trick him into doing something he doesn’t want - there you have it, a major problem to positive training already.
So what did I do?
1st, I got him to be comfortable AROUND the crate.
I did that by giving him his most premium treat right outside the crate.
Next, I got him to SLEEP NEAR the crate.
The logic behind this is to get him to recognize the crate as his den, i.e. his place of shelter.
I did this by laying a thick fluffy towel which he sleeps on usually, and placing part of the towel right outside the crate so that he will go to that spot and sleep there.
Then, I started feeding him from outside the crate.
Once he was comfortable being around the crate and near it, the next step would be to lure him in… I started by feeding him his meals (dry kibbles) piece by piece from the back of the crate. Initially he ran to where I was to snatch the kibbles from me, but I refused to let him, and showed him that I’d only feed him through the grill from the back, hence he had no choice but to step inside.
Initially he was so wary, so he would step in with his front 2 legs, and then stretch his neck to reach the grills where I was feeding his kibble, whilst his 2 back legs were outside the crate. Subsequently, he gave up doing that as it was tiring to be in that position, and stepped all the way in (all 4 legs in). After a while, he started to sit inside the crate and eat from my hand.
Note that this process took me a few hours a day; I fed him his meals and treats by hand, kibble by kibble, piece by piece, ever so slowly.
This step makes him recognize that the crate is not only his den, but a place where good things happen (treats)!
Next step, persistence! It pays off!
You need to have the stamina to tire him out… It took me more than 8 hours… but I was determined to crate train him successfully in view of his relocation. The last thing I want is for my 20KG muscular dog to be barking non-stop during his flight and trying to chew and destroy his crate.
After he’s developed the habit of sleeping inside his crate, I taught him the “kennel up” command.
It is very important to make sure that the dog WANTS to go inside the crate on his own, rather than being forced to. You’ll end up with a dog feeling trapped in his crate, barking, and anxious throughout the journey.
I simply showed him his treat, and gestured for him to go inside. I then fed him only after he had went inside.
This command is important as on the day of relocation, I would be getting him to “kennel up” and “stay” inside the crate, he would then be falling asleep inside the crate throughout his journey from our home to Changi Airport, to the plane and to Jakarta.
So that pretty up sums up my crate training for my doggo!! I must say the relocation went smoothly, he was so calm and docile inside the crate. Thankfully the flight from Singapore to Jakarta was only 1.5 hours. So including all that waiting time before and after, he was only in his crate for about 4 hours before they took him to the quarantine center.