Your barn dog may never have seen a crate before. She may never have had to sleep anywhere specific, but been free to wander in and out as she pleased, chasing off unwanted critters as needed. Similarly, it may never have mattered before if your barn dog didn’t get along with guests, or if she sometimes chewed on the wood in the barn. Now, however, you may be moving your barn dog into your home, for any number of reasons, and you would like her to use a crate. She may be terrified of the crate, or howl or fight her way out like a caged wild animal when closed inside. You think, "How will I ever keep this dog in my house? What if she attacks the front door or the wall when I leave, like she does the crate?" Perhaps your dog is aggressive with guests, and you wonder how you will keep her separate if she acts like that when she is put in her crate.
All dogs like a safe, comfortable den to nestle away in to sleep, nap, or chew on a favorite toy. Your barn dog probably had a favorite place in her barn, or maybe under your porch. Training your barn dog to use crate manners is simply a matter of translating the pleasure of settling into a favorite nest place to the crate.
The most important tools in crate training your barn dog are, of course, the crate and bed. The crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up fully and turn in a circle easily. In general, the larger the better, unless you find you have a problem with your dog having accidents inside the crate, in which case you may need to use a slightly smaller crate. The bed should be as thick as possible, and made of therapeutic memory foam if for older dogs. It is useful to have a waterproof lining around the padding, under a cover, in case of accidents. Put a fluffy blanket in the crate on top of the bed, so that your dog will have the satisfaction of scratching up her own bed without bothering the bed underneath. Fill the crate with lots of chew toys and food and treat dispensing toys, as well as stuffed toys and whatever your dog likes best, to make it as pleasant a place as possible. It is convenient if the bed stops slightly short of the edge of the crate, so as to make a place for toys and a sturdy water bowl on the crate pan. It is a good idea to cover the crate partially with a blanket, so as to make it feel more denlike.