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Far too many people still seem to think that crate training a Schnauzer is cruel. What they don't realize is, providing you approach this training in the right manner, there is nothing cruel about it. In fact, most Schnauzers end up falling in love with their crate. "Why?", you might ask. In the wild, dogs have always sought out a small safe place they could call home. With this in mind, there is nothing cruel about crate training your pup, in fact, it is quite the opposite.
The only time using a crate for your dog is cruel is when you force them to spend too much time in them, as this can be bad for their health. Remember that puppies have a much smaller bladder and cannot spend excessive amounts of time in their crates without going potty.
The task at hand is simple, you are trying to take advantage of your pup's natural instinct to find a den and use it to convince him to see the crate as his den. It takes far more than just a little time and effort to make this happen. However, the end results more than justify the means. The thing to keep in mind at all times is that your pup wants to have a "den" of his own, somewhere he can go to get away for a little peace and quiet, or simply to take a nap.
Your job is not only to teach him to see his crate as his den but to train him to stay in for what can be several hours at a time. Chances are good that once your pup understands what is expected of him, he will spend a lot of time hanging out in his den without the need for him to be told to go there.
Before you can start crate training your dog, you need a crate. The first crate should be just big enough for your pup to stand up in and move around a little. If you make it too big, he will find a spot in it to use as a potty. When the fit is just right, and it's all set up nice and cozy, what dog could possibly resist? To make it cozy, add a mat or carpet to the floor, a nice bed, a blanket, a source of water, and a few new toys.
You should also have a plentiful supply of your pup's favorite treats on hand to give out as rewards. Along with treats, you need plenty of patience and time to work on this new skill with your dog. Keep your eye on the prize and work with your pup until has mastered this skill.
The Meals Inside Method
A home for the crate
Find a spot in your home for his crate, preferably one near when you spend the most time. This will let him feel as though he is still part of the family, even when he is in his crate.
Use a treat
Using one of your pup's favorite treats to lure him over to the crate. Next, toss the treat all the way into the back of the crate. This ensures he has to go all the way in if he wants his treat. When he does, give him lots of praise.
Dinner for one
Set your dog's food dish inside his crate. Place it far enough back that he must go all the way in if he wants to eat. Keep doing this over the next few days, but leave the door open. Start closing the door while he eats and when he is done, open it and take him straight outside to go potty.
No snacks between meals
Next up, working with your pup between meals. Place your pup in the crate, close the door, and go find something to do for half an hour. Be sure to give him a few toys to play with.
Achieving your goal
Continue working with your pup and extending the amount of time he spends in his crate until he can stay in there for as long as you need him to. In the words of the French" C'est Fini (it’s finished).
The What's Your Hurry Method
Choose your location
Start by finding the perfect place for your dog's kennel. Preferably one out of the main flow of traffic, but where you and your family tend to spend a lot of time.
Feeding time at the zoo
Move your pup's food and water dishes over to a spot just in front of the crate by the door. Sit back and give your pup time to discover his food and water dishes. In time, curiosity is going to win and your pup will start wandering in and out of his kennel.
Catch your pup in his crate and close the door. Let him fuss if he feels the need, he will soon get fed up making a racket and quiet down. When he does, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.
After the reward
After your pup has had enough time to finish up his treat, go ahead and open the crate door, then step back to let him out. Take him out to go to the bathroom and stretch his legs.
Time is an illusion
The rest is all about spending time working with your pup until he learns to stay in his crate. Once you have been working with him for a while, you might find your pup going to snooze in there all on his own.
The I'm Not Here Method
With your pup's crate all set up and ready to go, toss a treat in the middle of the crate's floor. Give your pup the "Crate!" or "Kennel!" command and let him wander in to find the treat at his own pace. Praise him when he goes in and let him eat the treat.
Shut the gate
Quietly close the gate and then slip away to somewhere you can sit and relax for a few minutes. Your pup is going to let you know how unhappy he is about being in the crate. That's okay, let him. He will settle down eventually.
All calmed down
Once your pup has calmed down, give him a treat. This helps him to see the crate as a place where good things happen. Then open the gate and let your pup come out using a cue such as "Out!" and praise him for coming out. No treat, just praise. The idea is he must associate going into his crate with good things (the treat).
Take your pup straight outside to go potty and let him get a little exercise.
Continue repeating the steps above. Slowly increase the time between when he settles down until he gets the treat. Over the course of the next few weeks, continually extend the time until your Schnauzer will stay in his crate for several hours at a time. Be sure to reward him with treats to reinforce the positive behavior.
By PB Getz
Published: 02/08/2018, edited: 01/08/2021