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The English Bull Terrier is perhaps best known as the dog who played "Spuds McKenzie" in the Budweiser commercials back in the '80s or as the "Target Dog." These dogs are fun loving, active--even hyperactive--very playful, and they love to clown around. They are great family dogs, fiercely loyal, and wonderful with kids. They are stubborn to a fault, but only because they want to squeeze out every last second of playtime before complying.
Crate training your Bull Terrier is very important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it can be used as part of potty training your pup. Secondly, Bull Terriers are like canine wood chippers. While teething or when bored, your pup can turn furniture into a pile of wood chips. This need to chew can also be bad for his health, depending on what he eats.
The task at hand should be an easy one, at least in your mind. Your goal: to train your highly active Bull Terrier to do something that goes against his nature. Most dogs will naturally seek out a den to raise their families, for when they are ill, or simply as a home to get out of the weather. The big difference between a den and a crate is that a den does not have a locking door. The occupant can come and go as he pleases.
Does this mean the task is impossible? No. What it does mean is that you must be prepared to work a little harder and longer to achieve the desired results. But, have faith, as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort needed, you can train your pup to love his crate.
One of the most important steps to getting started with crate training is, of course, to make sure you have the right size crate. Start out with one that fits your pup and will fit him through a couple of growth spurts and then upgrade to one that will be a comfortable fit for him as an adult dog. You need to make the crate look and feel like a den to him. So, plan on adding wall-to-wall carpeting, a nice plush bed, a hanging water bottle or a water bowl, and a few toys to occupy your pup's attention. You may also need:
- Treats – for training
and as rewards
- Pee pads – if your
pup is not yet potty trained
- Blanket – to help
create a dark, cozy den for your pup.
The only other things you need for this training are plenty of time to work with your pup and an endless supply of patience to overcome his playful stubborn nature. The big thing is to make it fun and let your pup set the pace, there really isn't any need to be pushy or to try and rush your pup, he'll get there in his own good time (within reason).
The At His Speed Method
Choose a home for his crate
Find a spot in your home for your pup's crate. The location should be centrally located to where your pup can spend time with the family, even when he is in his crate. Go ahead and get it all set up with carpeting, bed, etc.
Add some appeal
Nothing is more appealing to your dog than his food and water dishes. Move them over to sit in front of the crate next to the door. Leave the door open and walk away. Give your pup a few days for his curiosity to get the better of him.
On the inside looking out
After a few days of this, the next time your pup goes into the crate, go ahead and close the door. He is not going to like this and is sure to be quite vocal about it. That's okay, let him say his piece. When he finally stops, praise him and reward him with a treat.
On the outside looking in
After your pup has a little time to enjoy his treat, go ahead and open the door and let him out. Take him out to go potty immediately.
Add more time
Keep repeating this training over the course of several weeks until your pup is happy to go into his crate, even when you are not telling him to.
The Who's That Talking Method
Location is everything
The right location for your pup's crate is very important. Find a spot where it can stay and is located where your pup can still be part of the action in the house.
Use the cue and act on it
Use your cue word, ("crate", "kennel", "bed", your choice) and place your pup in his kennel. Shut the door and close the latch.
Let him fuss
Your pup is going to voice his opinion about being locked in his crate. Go ahead and ignore him until he stops fussing. Just go on about your daily routine. Don't look at him, don't talk to him, let him wear himself out.
Time to release the hound
Once your pup has stopped fussing around and has calmed down, go ahead and open the door so he can come out. As he does, use the "out" cue so that he will learn to come out when called after he finds out how much he likes his new "home."
Make it last longer
Finally, start extending the time between when your pup stops fussing and when you open the door to the crate. In time, you will be able to leave your Bull Terrier in his kennel for extended periods of time.
The One Step at a Time Method
Create your pup's den
Find a nice spot for your pup's crate. We recommend a spot in the most commonly occupied room, one where everyone in your family and your pup can interact with each other. Assemble the crate, add a nice piece of plush wall-to-wall carpeting in a soothing color. Give your pup a nice bed to sleep on, a few toys to play with, and a hanging water bottle.
Check out your new den
Call your pup over to the crate and see if he will go in all on his own out of curiosity. If he doesn't, that's okay, toss a treat in the door and watch him go running inside, forgetting all about the crate. Let him take his own time exploring, it might take several attempts before he will spend more than ten seconds in the crate, but in time he won't be able to resist.
Pick your cue word
Choose your cue word, such as "crate" or "kennel". It doesn't matter what you use as long as you use it consistently, as should everyone else in your family.
Begin to use the command
Continue training as above, but this time as you toss the treat in the crate, add the cue word.
Finishing the job
Keep working with your pup until he will go into the crate upon command without the need for a treat and will stay in there with the door closed for as long as you need him to. Keep working with him and be patient, he will figure it out soon enough.
By PB Getz
Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021