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It is only natural for a puppy to seek out a quiet place to get a little shuteye or just to relax. Dogs in the wild actively seek out a cave or other form of shelter. Crate training is simply an extension of this natural instinct in which you will be substituting a well-equipped crate that is extremely comfortable.
The earlier you start crate training your Schnauzer puppy, the easier it will be for all of you. Like most other breeds, Schnauzers are intelligent and can learn this behavior quickly, provided you are willing to use the right method of training with positive reinforcement. If you attempt to train in a negative manner by yelling, scolding, or using force, this will make your dog reluctant to go in the crate.
The intent of this training is to teach your dog that the crate sitting in the corner of the living room is his "den" and only his. Once he figures out that the crate is his private domain, you may find you have a hard time getting him out of it. Be prepared, it is going to take a lot of time and effort on both of your parts if you want your pup to master the fine art of staying in his crate.
In the wild, a dog will seek out a cave or pile of downed trees where he can get out of the weather, sleep safely at night, even raise a family. A domesticated dog may still have this instinctual need, but since he lives in a house, the need for shelter is minimized. It falls on you to take this natural instinct and bring it back to the forefront, while at the same time teaching him the crate sitting in the living room is his den.
The most important part of crate training your Schnauzer pup is to buy the right size crate for him. Bear in mind your pup needs room to stand up, turn around, and lie down but not have enough extra space to use part of the crate as a potty area. While you don't want him to have too much room, when he grows up, he is going to need more space than he does now. Plan ahead by choosing a crate that can be partitioned to a smaller size for the puppy months, or be prepared to buy a small crate now and a larger one as your dog grows.
You need to make the crate as comfortable as possible for your pup. Cover the floor with carpeting, add a nice comfortable bed, maybe a blanket, and of course a few new toys for your pup to play with and chew on. You are also going to need plenty of nice smelly treats to help with the training and to give your pup as rewards.
The Silence is Golden Method
Crate set up time
Put his crate in a centrally located spot where it is out of the flow of traffic, yet where your family spends a lot of time.
Insert dog A in crate B
Gently pick your pup up and, as you place him through the door and into the center of his crate, use your cue word. Place him next to a small pile of new toys. Close the door and latch it closed.
Hark, what is that noise?
You know your pup is going to start fussing, squealing, and barking, if not immediately, within a few seconds once he figures out the door is closed. This is quite normal and will only last until your puppy gets tired of making such a fuss. Let him howl while you go find something else to do for a while.
Time to come out of the kennel
Only after your pup has finally quieted down should you open the door and let him out using your choice of cue word. You should take him right out into the yard to take care of business and stretch his little legs.
More time, if you please
Slowly add more time to how long he stays in his crate once he stops fussing until he can stay in the kennel for extended periods of time. Bear in mind while he is a puppy, you should never leave him in his crate for more than 2 hours as he won't be able to hold his bladder for much longer than this until he is an adult.
The Baby Steps Method
Find a spot for the crate
Place your pup's crate in a quiet spot in your home, out of the flow of traffic. Yet, it still needs to be in a place where your family spends most of its time. Perhaps the kitchen near the back door (for ease of access to the backyard for potty breaks) or the living room. To help, you may even want to cover it with a blanket to give it a more cave-like feel.
Enter the den
Time to introduce your pup to his den. With the door tied open, toss one of his treats in the middle of the den. Then step back and let him take his time playing explorer. He may nip in, grab the treat and rush back out for the first few times. In time, his curiosity will get the better of him and he will stay in long enough to explore his new den.
Pick your cue word
You need a cue word that tells your pup he needs to go into his crate. You can use "kennel or crate" or anything else you want. Just remember what it is and stick to it, this way your pup will come to know exactly what is expected of him.
Add the cue
Continue tossing treats in the crate, but this time add the cue word as you do. This will help your pup to associate the cue with the action and the treat at the end.
Work the cue
Spend several days or more working with your pup using the command until he will go in the crate each time he hears the cue word. Be sure to praise him and make sure he gets a treat each time he goes in the crate on command.
The long and winding road
The rest is all about practice, practice, practice, gradually adding more time to how long he stays in the crate until you release him. Before you know it, your Schnauzer puppy will be crate trained.
The Treat Lure Method
It all starts with an open door
Set up your pup's crate in a location where it is out of the main flow of traffic, but is somewhere that your entire family can interact with him and he with them. Leave the door off or tie it open so your pup can come and go as he pleases.
Grab a seat near the crate
Sit close enough to the crate that you can easily toss one of his treats in. Call your pup's name, hold out a treat and let him get a good sniff. Then let him see you toss the treat in the crate while giving him the "kennel" command.
Cover me, I'm going in
Your pup won't be able to resist the treat for too long, it will simply lure him into the crate. The moment he steps across the threshold and grabs the treat, praise him and give him another of those tasty tidbits.
Come on out of there
Step back from the crate so that your pup feels he can comfortably exit. When he is passing through the door, give him the "out" command and praise him. However, don't give him a treat, you want him to associate getting the treat with going into the crate, not coming out of it.
One more time
Or in fact many more times. You can now start extending the amount of time between when your pup goes into the crate and when you open the door to let him out. Increase the time in small increments of five minutes or so and in time your pup will learn to stay in the crate for extended periods of time.
By PB Getz
Published: 02/09/2018, edited: 01/08/2021