Your dog’s crate should be a safe space where your pet can relax and enjoy being alone when he wants to. Crate training is also beneficial for potty training, safe travel, and when your pet must be left home alone.
Using positive reinforcement methods to crate train your dog is the way to go, and using fun crate games can form an important part of your training regimen.
Here are 11 crate games that you can use to help your pooch love his crate!
11 Crate Training Games For Dogs
Before you begin, you’ll need to assemble what you need to play the crate training games, including:
- A suitable dog crate, like this crate for a French Bulldog
- Chew toys, such as a KONG
- Your dog’s favorite healthy treats
- Your dog’s favorite food
Playing crate games is thirsty work, so you should also have a bowl of water beside the crate so your pup can get a refreshing drink when he wants one.
1. Toys And Treats
This is a very simple crate training game that’s perfect for getting your dog started.
Prepare for the game by hiding a few treats in the crate. Alternatively, you might want to use a KONG toy stuffed with treats.
Have the crate door open, and let your dog back into the room. Now, it’s up to your dog to go into the crate to find the treat-filled toy or treats!
As soon as your pet plucks up the courage to go into the crate, he immediately receives a reward. That teaches your dog that his crate is a fun place to be.
2. Treat Fetching Game
Now that your dog will happily enter his crate, you can make the game more interactive.
While your dog is watching you, toss a couple of treats into the crate. Let your dog go into the crate to get the treats without cajoling or forcing him.
Call him back to you as soon as the dog has entered the crate and eaten the treats. Repeat the game for five to ten minutes, then take a break.
3. Shut The Front Door!
As soon as your dog is confident with the treat fetching game, make the game more challenging by closing the door behind your pet.
Throw a treat into the crate. When a dog enters his crate to get the treat, shut the door behind him for a few seconds.
Take it very slowly, and if your pet starts to whine or show signs of anxiety, open the door and let him out immediately.
4. Dinner Is Served!
This game involves feeding your dog inside the crate.
Start by leaving the crate door open. Once your dog is busy eating, shut the door behind him. Wait by the crate until your pup has finished eating, and then open the door so he can leave freely.
Once your dog is safely inside his crate, you want him to come out sensibly and without bolting.
Slowly open the crate door. If your pup tries to come charging out, firmly close the door and give your dog a treat. That’s a reward for waiting quietly inside the crate. Open the crate door again. If your dog sits calmly inside, reward him with a treat.
Repeat the game, praising and rewarding your dog for sitting calmly every time.
You want your dog to relax in his crate. So, you can begin training your pet to relax by rewarding him.
Toss a treat into the crate and ask your dog to lie down. Once your dog settles down and relaxes, release your dog from the “down” command and reward him with a treat.
7. Where’s It Gone?
This game is ideal for teaching puppies to go into their crate.
Start sitting on the floor next to the crate with your puppy and his favorite toy. Encourage your pup to play with the toy, and then take it away. Put the toy inside the crate, and close the door.
Your puppy is bound to get extremely excited and will most likely try to get into the crate to get the toy. Open the crate door so that your pet can go inside.
Once your puppy is happy to sit inside the crate with the toy, you can close the door.
8. Watch Me!
This game aims to keep your puppy’s attention on you.
Once your dog sits quietly in his crate, get his attention by holding up some treats. Ask someone to distract the pup, perhaps by throwing a toy.
When the dog remains focussed on you, reward him with a treat.
9. In And Out
Have your dog sit inside his crate.
Open the door, and treat your dog for staying inside the crate. Now, walk away from the crate and call your pet. If the dog rushes out toward you, don’t reward him. The dog should return to his crate. When he does, reward him.
Repeat the exercise until the dog understands that staying calmly inside the crate will earn him a reward.
10. Tug-of-War Teaser
With your dog sitting inside his crate, open the door and show the dog a tug toy.
Call the dog out of the crate, and play tug-of-war with him for a few minutes. Take the toy away, and send the dog back into his crate. Immediately the dog returns to the crate and gives him treats and praise as a reward.
The point of this game is to have the dog return to the crate despite the distraction of the prospect of a game with the tug toy.
11. Long Distance Fetch Game
For this game, you’ll need to put a comfy bed at one end of your backyard and the crate at the other.
Have your dog sit on the bed. Now, ask your dog to go to his crate and retrieve a toy, bringing it back to the bed. Once the dog understands the aim of the game, you can move the bed to make the distance longer.
Crate training has many benefits for both dogs and their owners.
You should always use positive reinforcement training when introducing the crate to your dog or puppy, and never use the crate as a punishment tool. Why not make crate training fun for your pooch using these training games?