Bentley came to me mostly crate trained.  By that, I mean I could put him in his crate at night, he would whine slightly for maybe half a minute, then settle down and sleep through the night.  But he doesn’t seem to really actually enjoy being in his crate.  He won’t go in there on his own if he needs a break, for example.  So I wanted to work with him to make the crate a happier place.  So I decided to teach him the “Go Crate!” command.  At first, I would sit in front of the crate, give the cue, and toss some treats in.  He would go in, gobble up the treats, then hop right out.  Then I worked on getting him to go into the crate before offering the treat.  Next, he had to go into the crate on cue, and lay down before getting the treat.  All this with me right next to the crate.  He picked this part up very quickly, as he’ll do anything for a treat.  Next, I worked on giving the cue from further away. It’s interesting to see how dogs think.  Bentley has a dog bed right across from the kitchen, and if I tell him to “Go Crate!” from the kitchen, sometimes he’ll go straight to his bed and lay down there instead!

My next challenge was getting him to actually stay in his crate.  Sure, he’d hop right in and lay down, and he’d eat his treat, and sometimes he’d even stay in for a minute hoping for another treat, but generally he wouldn’t stay in the crate too long.  So I decided to buy a rawhide bone for him.  These would take him longer to chew, so he wouldn’t be able to just eat an run.  On the other hand, I fully expected him to take his new treat out of his crate to go eat it elsewhere.  The plan was to let him have his bone in peace if he was in his crate, but the minute he took it out, I would take it from him (no easy task as he hasn’t learned to “Give” or “Drop It” yet) and tell him to “Go Crate” where he would get the bone back.  I figured it would take about 3-5 repetitions before he caught on that if he wanted to chew his bone unmolested, he would have to stay in his crate.

Well, I gave Bentley the cue to “Go Crate” and he went in and laid down.  I gave him his bone and waited for him to come out with it.  I waited.  Waited some more.  Waited even longer.  He did eventually come out of the crate with the bone, although it took him much longer than I thought it would (a very GOOD thing!).  I immediately went to take the bone from him and he fled…

…right back into his crate!