by Brooke Bartlett
Introducing your dog to a kennel or crate can be tricky because some pets do not want to be confined to a small space. Dogs usually acclimate to the den-like environment quickly, but you'll need to start out by showing her that it's a safe environment in order to help her learn to like it. With patience and time, your pet will enjoy, or at least tolerate, periods of time in a kennel. Crates and kennels, if used properly, can provide a place that your dog feels is her own space while also protecting your home from your pet.
Select a kennel sized appropriately for your pet. Your dog should have enough room to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around without extra space to do anything else. Choosing the correct size pet crate is important because it lessens the chance that your pet will urinate or defecate in there.
Transfer your scent. Sleep with a blanket to transfer your scent to the fabric, and then place it in the crate before you introduce your dog to her new home. This will help calm her and give the kennel a familiar feel.
Place a warm water bottle in the kennel if your pet normally sleeps by you. The warm bottle mimics the warmth of your body and keeps your dog from feeling alone. Use a hard, reusable water bottle that your dog cannot easily chew into pieces.
Set up the kennel in a central room of your home. Leave the door open so she can explore the kennel without being confined. Allow your dog several days to get comfortable with the presence of the pet kennel before you take any further steps. Warn children that the kennel is not a place to play. It should be a special getaway spot for the animal.
Encourage your dog to go into the kennel by offering special treats. Begin by luring her into the crate with treats without forcing her into it. You can also place your pet's food dish in the kennel to encourage her to use the kennel.
Take small steps. Place your dog in the kennel for a short time, and then give her a special kennel toy that is only available when she is in the kennel. Leave her for increasingly longer periods of time. Do not let her out when she is howling or whining. These noises can be a sign that your pet needs to be taken out or isn't yet ready to spend that much time in the kennel; however, you should wait until she has stopped before letting her out or you will encourage the behavior to continue.
The general rule is that you can leave a dog in a crate for a maximum of one hour for each month of his life, up to eight hours -- but ideally, you shouldn't crate your pet for that long.
Do not use the kennel as punishment and never put your dog in the kennel out of anger. Your pet will not understand why she is being put in the crate, and she will associate the crate with fear and will fight to avoid being put in it.