Dear Canine Foundations,

I’ve been advised by my veterinarian to crate my 2 year old Jack Russell to stop her from chewing up the house when we leave.  How do I do that when she has never been crated before?


Crating concerns

Dear Crating concerns,

It sounds like you may be dealing with a form of separation anxiety or boredom.  In either case, crating your dog may help but there are deeper issues afoot that need to be addressed to truly resolve the problem.  Although each dog is different and may need a more specialized program, here is a basic way to introduce your dog to her new crate;

  • Set up the crate in your bedroom and place your dog’s bed and toys inside.  Leave the door open for 2 days, don’t try to put her inside, just let her become accustomed to it being in her space.  During this adjustment time, feed your dog her meals in the crate (with the door open) and lavish her with praise every time you see her go in on her own.
  • After the adjustment period direct your dog into her crate using the CRATE command and pointing into the crate (lead in by leash if necessary).  As soon as she goes in say YES to positively mark the behaviour and praise her.
  • Direct your dog to DOWN and STAY, leave the crate door open and take one step back.
  • If your dog moves to come out of the crate give her a verbal correction (HEY) and redirect her to DOWN and STAY.  Use your body to block the crate door to assist you with the STAY.
  • Once in a STAY position, move around the room and carry on with your business as normal.  Count to 10 for the first session and release your dog with OKAY.
  • Repeat this exercise approximately once every 30 to 60 minutes through out the day, each session add more distractions like leave the room for 1 to 2 seconds and returning, as well as the length of time required to STAY.
  • Once your dog can STAY for 5 minutes, close the door, move away from the crate but still remain in the room.  Ignore all barking and whining and leave her in the crate for 1 minute for the first session (or until quiet for 30 to 60 minutes).
  • Every hour repeat the process, slowly increasing the amount of time your dog spends in the crate by 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Once you have reached 10 minutes with the crate closed, move into another room for longer periods of time and generate noise like opening and closing the front door, falling silent for a little while and moving around again.
  • Every hour, repeat the process, slowly increasing the amount of time you are out of the room by 5 to 10 minutes.  At the end of the day you can begin crating your dog at night and when you are not home.