By natural instinct, dogs are den animals. It is bred in their genetics to want to go to their dens as a place of safety. It is also bred in their genetics to keep their dens clean which is why they are such great housebreaking tools. When human beings bring dogs in to our world, we tend to forget that dogs are not humans at all. They are dogs. We forget the natural instincts that dogs have been born with and try to treat them like our children. This can be very hazardous to the human – dog relationship. One of the biggest things that humans forget is the natural instinct of dogs to have a safe haven like a den. One of the best tools we have when we bring dogs into our world is the dog crate.
A dog crate if used correctly can be your dog’s den in the human world. We should be willing to learn proper training techniques to better our relationship with man’s best friend. Using positive reinforcement, such as giving your dog treats for entering his crate, can be overwhelmingly beneficial in the crating process. Dogs remember associations, and associating going to his or her crate with a reward, will plant a positive image of that place in your canine friend’s brain. Remember that this can be reversed as easily as it is implemented. Never make your pet go to his or her crate as a place of punishment. It will only leave a bad association of that place for your dog. If his or her crate is always associated with a positive place, that crate will eventually become a safe haven for your dog, a human replication of the den. He or she will want to go there to sleep and relax.
With all of this said, believe me that there will be difficult times. The first few nights with a puppy can be treacherous. Don’t let the crying and howling break you. It is hard. I know from many personal experiences, but whatever you do, don’t give in. It will only make matters worse. Not only will it make it difficult to associate the dog crate with a positive experience, but you will emulate a sense of weakness to your canine. Dogs are looking to you to lead them, teach them, and be their guide just like your children do. You don’t give in to every temper tantrum and crying fit your children throw, do you? Stay strong, be positive, and your dog will not only respond to crating well, but will also be willing to obey and learn anything you want him to. Dogs are intelligent creatures, and the sky is the limit when it comes to teaching them. Implement a dog crate early on, and you will simplify all training that follows.