5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy in Their Crate

Basic Dog Training

August 01, 2017

5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy in Their Crate

Crate-training is a controversial topic. Most experienced dog owners agree that helping your dog adjust to quiet time in their crate is a good way to set boundaries, keep them safe, and allow you time away from the house.

If a crate is not properly used, your dog may avoid it. Whether a brand new owner or well-experience pet caretaker, consider some of these easy tips to keep your dog busy in their crate.

Properly Using a Crate

brown and white dogs head looking towards viewer

Dogs are natural den animals. A crate gives them a private, enclosed space where they can relax and sleep.  Many times, curious dogs will naturally begin using their new crates without an intervention on their owner’s part.

When using a crate, there are some specific “do’s” and “don’ts” owners should always keep in mind.  These guidelines not only keep your dog safe but also help them enjoy their crate more.

  • Avoid using the crate as a punishment.
  • Never leave your dog inside for too long! (Allow plenty of time outside for play and exercise, especially for puppies and more rambunctious breeds)
  • Be sure the crate is comfortable and big enough for your dog.
  • Always associate the crate with pleasant things (treats, toys, etc.)
  • Never place flimsy or easily breakable toys inside (broken toys become choking hazards).
  • Include food and water to keep your dog hydrated while you’re gone.
  • Be consistent! (develop the crate as a habit)

Benefits of Crate Training

Used properly, there are noticeable benefits for both owners and dogs. Popular animal advocate groups such as The Human Society support this training tool.

Crate benefits are even greater if you help your dog adjust to “crate time” early on in their puppy years.  If your dog views their crate as a safe, secure place, expect to see some of these common benefits:

  • Your dog will learn patience and come to respect your boundaries and rules
  • Your house will be safe from damage while you are not home
  • Crates speed up the “house-breaking” process and reduce accidents and soiling.
  • Assist your dog with traveling (some crate designs are specifically designed as traveling tools).
  • Proper crate training helps eliminate some separation anxiety.

blonde dog in blue crate in back of car with camping gear@alska_wild

Crate Activities Your Dog Will Love

After properly introducing your dog to their crate, begin providing special toys and activities to help them enjoy their time inside.  This helps them associate their crate as something fun and enjoyable.

Before you place your dog inside, be sure they’ve burned off at least some of their endless energy.  Running, fetch, and other high-energy activities will make their time in the crate much more relaxing.  After they’re inside, offer them one or more of these fun crate activities:

  1. “Kongs”

These fun rubber toys are perfect for filling with almost any treat. Peanut butter, ice cubes, and biscuits are perfect goodies.

  1. Busy Buckets

Because dogs like to explore, create a “mystery bucket”. Wrap chew toys, healthy treats, and other favorite goodies inside blankets or old t-shirts and pack it all into a sturdy plastic or metal bucket.

  1. “Dog-sicles”

Everyone enjoys cold popsicles during warm summer months; dogs are no different.  Create a tasty, cold treat for your dog to gnaw and suck on by freezing peanut butter or chicken broth. Although messy, these chilly treats will keep your dog happy and cool while you’re out.

  1. “Tug-A-Jug”

This toy offers your dog plenty of challenge and entertainment to keep them busy and happy. Fill the jug portion of this toy with kibble or small treats and allow your dog to “work” them out by tugging on the rope.

Dogs are incredibly intelligent animals; your dog will love this interesting challenge.

  1. Antlers

Although not all bones and chew toys are safe to give dogs for extended periods of time, antlers provide safe and enjoyable gnawing for long stretches of time. These durable antlers are tough and won’t splinter into dangerous shards.

Crate training offers many benefits for both owners and dogs.  Handy tools offer a safe, pleasant retreat for dogs throughout the day whether the door is closed or not.

By keeping these safety tips in mind and using these fun activities, you can easily keep your dog busy and teach them to enjoy their crate time.