Crate Training A German Shepherd Puppy
Check out these 12 simple tips on how to crate train your new puppy.
By Pat Miller |
posted: March 27, 2012, 8 p.m., EDT
- Get a crate just large enough for your German Shepherd Dog puppy to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably.
- Cover the floor of the crate with a rug or soft pad to make it inviting.
- Open the crate door and toss some yummy treats inside. If your German Shepherd hesitates to go in, toss them close to the doorway so she can stand outside and poke her nose in the crate to eat them.
- Each time she eats a treat, click your clicker (or say “Yes!” as a verbal marker).
- Gradually toss the treats farther into the crate until your German Shepherd puppy will step inside. Click each time she eats one.
- When your puppy enters the crate easily, click and offer a treat while she’s still inside. If she stays inside, keep clicking and treating. If she comes out, that’s OK; toss in another treat and wait for her to re-enter. Don’t force your German Shepherd to stay in the crate.
- When your GSD puppy is entering the crate without hesitation, use a verbal cue, such as “Go to bed,” as you toss in a treat. Eventually, you will want to send your puppy into her crate with a verbal cue.
- When your German Shepherd will stay in the crate in happy anticipation of a click and treat, gently close the door. Click and treat, then open the door. Repeat this step, gradually increasing the length of time that the door stays closed. Sometimes click and reward without opening the door right away.
- When your German Shepherd will stay happily in the crate with the door closed for at least 10 seconds, close the door and take one step back. Click, return to the crate, reward her generously, and open the door. Repeat, varying the time and distance that you’re gone. Don’t always make it longer and farther; intersperse long breaks with shorter ones.
- Leave the crate open when you’re actively crate training. Toss treats and toys into the crate when she’s not looking, so your GSD pup never knows what she might find in there. Feed her meals in the crate with the door open to help her realize her crate is a wonderful place.
- Some German Shepherds adjust to their crates in just one day. Some take several days. A few take weeks or longer. If at any time during the cratetraining program your GSD whines or fusses about being in the crate, don’t let her out until she stops whining. Instead, wait for a few seconds of quiet, click and reward her, then back up a step or two in the cratetraining program, and increase the difficulty in smaller increments. Be patient with your puppy.
- If you let your German Shepherd puppy out when she’s fussing, she’ll learn that fussing frees her. If, however, she panics, you must let her out, as your pup might have embryonic separation distress. A crate generally is not recommended for dogs with separation anxiety behavior; they tend to panic in confinement. If you believe your GSD might have a separation problem, stop cratetraining, and consult a qualified positive-behavior professional who has experience with this particular behavior.
When your German Shepherd is crate trained, you have a valuable behavioral management tool for life. Respect it. If you abuse the crate by keeping her confined too much for too long or by using it as a punishment, she might learn to dislike it. Reward your German Shepherd often enough in her crate to keep her response happy and quick. Don’t ever let anyone tease or punish her in the crate. Children especially can be guilty of this, so watch them.
Excerpt from the Popular Puppies Series magabook German Shepherd Puppies with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase German Shepherd Puppies here.
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