If you have a dog – or are thinking about getting one – you’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of crate training. Because dogs are naturally drawn to small, enclosed spaces a comfy crate can make them feel safe and give them their own space to relax in.
It’s also great for pet parents, too! Since dogs don’t like to soil in the place where they sleep, it can help with housebreaking by reminding puppies to “hold it” until their next scheduled potty break. In addition, it will keep your belongings from being chewed on when you’re not around to supervise.
Crate training also comes in handy by keeping them safe while traveling and reducing stress if they have to be kenneled at the vet or groomer. Many competitive dog events like agility and flyball also require dogs to be crated when not competing.
Learning that the crate is great!
While some dogs take to a crate naturally, others need to learn that the crate is a safe, happy place! The key to proper crate training is to make it a positive experience for your dog or puppy. Never use it as punishment or crate him for long periods of time, especially when first training him. A good rule of thumb is to crate no longer than one hour per each month of age, working up to the average workday of eight or nine hours.
When first training your dog to be calm in his crate, it’s important to make sure that only the very best things happen in there – especially food and fun! And that’s where the PupPod Wobbler toy comes in. Not only is playing with the toy lots of fun, it pays off with a tasty reward.
How to use the PupPod + Pet Tutor bundle for crate training:
The techniques below work best with a wire crate, and a dog who has achieved at least Level 3 with the PupPod game. That’s because, by this point, they understand how the game works and that PupPod = food and fun!
- Place the Pet Tutor on the top of and towards the back of the crate, making sure it’s steady and secure.
- Place the toy in the crate at the same end as the Pet Tutor, so your dog’s head is facing the toy when the treats rain down. (This will reduce the chances of your dog hitting it with their back legs by accident, which can lead to confusion about what caused the treats to fall.)
- Leave the door open and let your dog choose to enter the crate to interact with the toy.
- Before starting the game, we recommend setting the time interval on the PupPod app to 20 seconds or higher. Again, this will prevent your dog from getting “accidental” rewards by inadvertently touching the toy with his back legs in such close quarters.
- When your dog appropriately touches the toy, the Pet Tutor will dispense kibble or a treat, which will fall into the crate. (Serious dog happy dance will commence!)
- Once your dog is excitedly going into the crate to play, close the door behind him. Start with only two or three seconds, and then build up to longer periods. Eventually, you’ll be able to feed him his whole meal in the crate using PupPod.
- To keep your dog focused on the game, rather than the time in the crate, you can add a snuffle mat to his crate. This ups the challenge and the time it takes your dog to find the rewards he earned from playing the game.
- Don’t forget to offer lots of positive encouragement and praise, too!
Once your dog is comfortable in his crate at home, try practicing in busier, more distracting places. If you find that he isn’t as interested in the toy in this new, exciting environment, try increasing value of the reward. For example, if you use kibble in the Pet Tutor at home, try an extra yummy freeze-dried treat instead.
With a little practice and patience, your dog will soon be thinking of his crate as home sweet home!