Every dog needs to be crate trained. Even if your dog "doesn't need a kennel" or you would "never put your baby in a cage" or you "never leave home without them." Why? Because there is no certainty that they will never need to be put in a crate or kennel at some point in their lives. I.e you have to be hospitalized or need to evacuate quickly, it will be much easier for you to be able to safely take them to a boarding kennel or put them in a crate to transport and not worry about them escaping or causing more problems.
Crate training not only makes life easier for you, but also makes your dog's life less stressful when they have a safe area they can call their own. Dogs are natural den dwellers and like to curl up where it's cozy and they can feel protected.
So why do some dogs destroy crates or cry and have anxiety attacks while in a kennel? Some of that may have to do with separation anxiety or boredom. They may not understand what's going on if they haven't been properly trained. Suddenly putting a dog who has never seen a crate for hours alone is going to stress them out and they will be confused as to where you went or why this is happening. You need to make the crate a safe and happy place where they know you will be back to get them.
Starting crate training
Ideally, crate training should have been already started with your breeder or as soon as you got them home as a puppy. They should be taken home and already have a kennel made up for them with blankets that smell like their mother. The kennel should be small and in an area that doesn’t have traffic or can be closed off.
The first few days or weeks can be very stressful, try to keep to a set schedule and make sure they have plenty of exercise as they adjust. Kong’s, hooves and antlers are good long lasting chews to help keep them occupied.
If it is a new puppy, put them in the crate at night when you go to bed so they’re not running around unsupervised where they can potty or get into dangerous things. They’re just like a baby, it’s mainly to keep them safe. You may need to keep a radio on or move them to the other end of the house to keep them from hearing you move around and for you to be able to sleep through the first week. Puppies will cry, and if you go to let them out, talk to them or check on them while they’re crying, they learn that making as much noise as possible is how they can get your attention. This makes dogs that constantly bark for attention. Which is definitely not something you want. The crying will stop when they get used to the schedule and learn that you’re not going to come running when they bark-they get nothing out of it.
If if this is an older dog or one with issues in kennels, start with feeding them in their crate with the door open. They can go in and out as the please and stress stays low. Throughout the day or a few times while you’re home, walk by the kennel and throw a treat in far enough that they have to get all the way in to get it. Continue this for a few days until your dog is comfortable going into the kennel.
Next start shuting the door while they eat and letting them out once they’re done. Make sure they are calm when you let them out- no barking, whining or jumping at the door in order to get out. Do the same for treats, throw one in, shut the door for a few seconds (not long enough to make them too uncomfortable) and let them out. You can also make them go into the kennel and wait for a few seconds until giving them a treat. Build up to a few minutes, keeping stress levels low.
Once they are are comfortable sitting in the crate, door closed, for 2-5 minutes with you in the room, start walking out of the room for a few seconds. Come back in the room. Do not make eye contact. Do not talk to them. You can throw a treat or let them out only if they’re quiet and calm. If they are crying or frantically jumping or pawing at the gate that means you went too far. Calmly sit next to the kennel, no eye contact until they’re calm enough you can get them out and go back a step. This is for dogs that have anxiety issues while in the kennel. If it is a new puppy or a dog looking for attention do not go back into the room until they are calm and quiet.
Now start increasing the time they spend in the crate with you out of the room. You can give them Kong’s, hooves, antlers and blankets or T-shirts that smell like you to help keep them calm. Go from walking out for a few seconds to a few minutes until you can leave them in the crate up to an hour with no issues. Once they get comfortable with that start leaving them in while you go out for short trips. Remember not to make a big deal when going to get them out, this will make them excited and anxious for when you walk in the door, they have to be calm to come out.
If if you know you will be going out of town and are leaving them at a kennel or even having someone stop by, start increasing the time they spend in the crate each day. If you need to, some dogs like their own small kennel over the larger boarding kennels, ask if you can bring yours. Also try to do day visits if possible or one night stays so your dog is more comfortable.
Crate training can take some time for your dog to be fully comfortable and some dogs may never be silent while in a kennel. But if you stay consistent and work on decreasing their anxiety they will be calmer, happier dogs.