by Andrea Sparks
Whether you have a new puppy or an old dog, getting him to sleep in a dog kennel can be a chore. Maybe he wants to sleep with you on your bed, or perhaps he prefers to snooze on the leather sofa. With a little bit of training and encouragement, however, you can train your dog to sleep in a dog kennel at night. The following tips can help you train a dog to sleep in crates and kennels instead of on your furniture.
Start as a puppy: The younger your dog is, the easier he will be to train. This does not mean that it's impossible to train an older dog to sleep in a dog kennel -- it'll just take a little more work. You shouldn't put off training a new puppy, though. The more time your dog spends in your home, the more likely he is to develop habits specific to your home. Help him develop the right habits by starting early.
Use incentives: Pets respond best to positive reinforcement during training. Get your dog to warm up to his crate by placing treats and toys inside, and using treats and praise as rewards for spending time in the kennel. Using incentives will make your dog want to go in his dog kennel, because he knows he'll get something he wants in return.
Open door policy: If you want your dog to sleep in a dog kennel at night, let him get comfortable with it during the day as well. Leave the door of the dog pen open for him to climb in and out and explore it on his own terms. If your dog doesn't seem interested in exploring his kennel during the day, try placing dog treats and dog toys inside to encourage him.
Stay close: When training your dog to sleep in a dog crate, you want to make sure he doesn't feel trapped in there or like being in his kennel is a punishment. The best way to avoid this is to stay close. Don't close your dog in a pet crate and walk away; he will feel like he is being left in there as a punishment. Put your dog in his kennel while you watch a movie or read a book close by. He will feel more secure knowing you're not leaving him alone.
Get cozy: Dogs love to snuggle up in a comfortable little den to sleep, so make your dog's kennel just that with a warm dog bed or blanket inside. He's less likely to sleep on your bed or furniture if he knows he can be warm and comfortable all night long in his kennel. If your dog already has a bed or blanket he loves, move it inside the crate to entice him to sleep there.
If the shoe fits: It's important to purchase the right size pet kennel when you're training your dog to sleep in a kennel. You'll want the kennel to be big enough that he can shift, stand up and turn around easily. You'll also want to be careful the crate isn't too big. You want the kennel to feel like a den to your dog, and too large of a kennel may take that feeling away. Dogs also don't like to use the restroom where they sleep, and typically won't go in their dog kennel; if the kennel is too big, however, your dog may go potty in the corner and sleep on the other side.