Getting Accustomed to a Crate
Crate training is the easiest way to housebreak a dog. Placing the dog in a crate is also often a necessity when traveling. However, there are some dogs that dislike being a crate at first since they are not accustomed to it. This may lead to excessive barking and complaining when in the crate, which can get quite disturbing. Here are several steps to getting your dog accustomed to a crate.
At first, leave the crate door open so the dog can enter and leave freely. If possible, place some blankets or a pillow in the crate and can confine the dog in an area with the crate where it is not as comfortable to lay on the floor. Many dogs will quickly figure out that laying on the soft blankets in the crate is much more comfortable than a concrete or tile floor outside of the crate.
Place the dog's water bowl in the crate during the day so the dog must voluntarily enter the crate on its own in order to drink the water. When feeding the dog its meal, put the food bowl in the crate so the dog must, once again, voluntarily enter and spend time the crate.
If a dog has never been in a crate and is uncomfortable being one, it is important to begin with small steps like this in which the dog enters and leaves on its own and spends short amounts of time in the crate. The crate is seen as something positive, not like a jail. Initially, do not force the dog into the crate and leave it there alone for hours or use it for punishment if possible. That will only teach the dog to dislike the crate.
Once the dog begins to get accustomed to the crate you can begin to shut the door when the dog is inside. Give the dog a chew treat, like a bone, that will take the dog a very long time to work on. The dog should have no problem with you shutting the door since it is focusing on the bone.
Whether taking naps or sleeping in the evening, use the crate as the dog's bed at first. To minimize the dog's possible complaining/barking, be sure to exercise the dog. A tired dog will go to sleep much quicker than one that is not. In addition, place a blanket or towel over the crate. The lack of visual stimulation gives the dog less reason to bark. Just make sure the dog is able to get plenty of air even though the crate is covered.
Though we would like a dog to become accustomed to the crate in a positive manner, some complaining and barking can be expected. It is extremely important that you never let the dog out of the crate when it is barking and complaining (unless the dog is letting you now that it needs to go to urinate or defecate). Letting a dog out when it complains will encourage more of that behavior as it teaches the dog that barking will cause you to come let it out. Only let the dog out when it is quiet or there is a break in the barking (even if that break is very slight).