Crate training is teaching your dog or puppy to be comfortable in a crate or cage and teaching them to associate it with feeling safe and secure.
Crate training has a number of uses; it can be invaluable when toilet training, or if your dog needs rest after surgery. I often use crate training to help anxious dogs feel more secure, especially when they first enter foster care. Crate training can benefit all dogs though, and I encourage all people to do it. Remember, when dogs go to the vet for surgery, they are put in a crate!
There are a number of different types of crates you can buy, but the 3 main types are; wire crates, plastic airline crates and soft sided (canvas) crates. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Do not get a soft sided crate if you think your dog is likely to try and escape the crate as they can easily break out if they are determined. Both the soft sided and wire crates can fold down which makes them easy to store away or transport. Plastic crates do come apart into 2 pieces, but they are bulkier. Both plastic and wire crates are easy to clean.
Most importantly, when choosing your crate, make sure your dog can stand up and turn around in the crate. It is also important to make sure the crate isn't too big as it defeats the purpose of creating their den. Getting the correct size is important for successful training!
To start the process
Set up the crate, making sure there is a comfortable bed inside and cover it with a sheet or blanket (leaving the opening uncovered). Allow your dog to investigate the crate. If they are unsure, throw treats near the crate to entice them. If they are happy to approach and investigate the crate, try throwing treats inside the crate. Praise them for going in, even if it is only a step of two. It is important to take your time and not rush this step. Repeat until they are happily entering the crate fully. Do not close the crate door at this stage.