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Your Doberman puppy probably feels like your whole world right now. Everyone that has seen him instantly goes ‘awww’ and wants to stroke him and to be honest, you can’t blame them. You’re loving every minute of looking after him and having him by your side. However, an important part of his growing up is learning to accept his crate. So, unfortunately, no matter how cute he is, he still needs to learn to use his crate.
Training him to use a crate is good for him in the long run. Firstly, he will have somewhere safe and secure he can escape to, his own territory. Secondly, it will teach him how to spend time on his own, which will prevent him getting separation anxiety when you leave for work. Finally, it will hopefully stop him going to the toilet on your nice floors and causing damage at night when you aren’t around to watch him.
Training any puppy to accept his crate can be a challenge and Dobermans are no exception. You will firstly need to make sure you have the right crate for him. You will then have to take steps to make the crate as comfortable as possible for him. A routine will also need to be established, so he’s used to heading there and feels comfortable when he is in his crate. Successful training often relies on finding the right incentive. Treats or toys will often go a long way.
Because he’s a puppy and Dobermans are confident and obedient, he could respond to training in just a few days. If not and he’s particularly needy, then you may need a couple of weeks before you see consistent results. Get this training right and you will no longer have to worry when you head upstairs at night!
Before you can start with training you will need a few bits. The right sized crate will obviously be the first essential. You will then need blankets and an array of toys to help it feel like home and make him comfortable.
Stock up on some treats, or break his favorite food into small pieces. They will be used to motivate him throughout training. Try and be there as much as possible to start with; consistency is key if you want swift results.
Once you have all that, you just need willpower and a positive attitude, then work can begin!
The Introductions Method
The right size
The first thing you need to do is make sure you choose the right sized crate. He should have enough space to stand up, turn around and move a little, but not much more than that. You don’t want him to think he has room to go the toilet in there.
Place the crate in a sociable room, such as the family room or kitchen. You don’t want him to think of it as a dark and gloomy place he’s forced to go to. Then secure the door open so he won’t frighten himself when he enters it for the first time.
To get him in the crate for the first time, place a few treats near the entrance. You can then head over and talk to him in a high-pitched, animated voice. You want him to associate the crate with positive experiences.
Feed him near the crate
To start with, you should feed him his meals near the crate. This will further help him to associate the crate area with happy things. You can also leave his water bowl near there as well.
Build up the time
Start by just playing with him for a minute or two in the crate. Then take him back out for a while. Next time, leave him in the crate for a little while longer. The trick is to gradually increase the time he spends in there.
The Leave Him Alone Method
Lure him over
Use a treat to get him into the crate to start with. You can place one in front of the crate and another inside. You can also point to the crate and use a high-pitched voice to encourage him.
Once you have gently secured the crate, leave him in there for a couple of minutes, but stay close. To begin with, you want to put him at ease by sticking around. You can talk to him and play with him through the sides. Then release him for a few minutes.
Increase the distance
A bit later on, place him back in the crate but this time move a little farther away. Keep doing this until you can leave the room for several minutes. If he begins to look anxious or scared, then you’re moving too quickly.
To make him feel more relaxed when he is inside the crate, place some toys in there. A food puzzle is also an effective technique to keep him occupied. Laying down a blanket or two will also help put him at ease.
If you have an older dog in the house too, his bed should be placed nearby. You do not want your crated Doberman puppy to associate the crate with isolation. Once he’s comfortable in the crate for a considerable time period, you can then move it to a location you prefer. But to start with, try and keep it somewhere sociable.
The Routine Method
Say good morning & good night
You need to get him in a routine of staying in his crate. This will help him know you will always come back for him. So, spend a couple of minutes saying good night and stroking him and then do the same first thing in the morning when you wake him up.
It is important he also gets into an effective toilet routine. If he’s locked in the crate and desperate for the toilet, he won’t associate it with happy moments. So, take him out in the morning, throughout the day and in the evening. If he’s a young puppy, the more you can take him out the better.
If he’s been to the toilet, had plenty of water and food, yet he still whines at night when you leave him, then you need to try and ignore him. If you don’t, you are telling him that whining is the way to get what he wants. You need him to accept the crate.
Doberman puppies cannot be left in the crate for too much of the day. This is particularly important if they are very young. So, make sure he gets plenty of exercise and isn’t kept in there all day and night.
If he associates the crate with positive rewards then he’ll be much more likely to spend time in there. So, leave the odd treat in there. Also, leaving one in there each evening is a fantastic way to get him to go in each night, without any hassle.
By James Barra
Published: 01/24/2018, edited: 01/08/2021