How To: Kennel Training

Why kennel train?

Kennel training has many benefits, especially for people bringing puppies or newly adopted dogs into the home. Potty training specifically is much easier when you incorporate the kennel into your every day routine. Kennel training provides your dog a safe space where no one will mess with them when they need a break from everything going on. Kennel training prepares your dog for any boarding or long stays at the vet where they are required to be kenneled. If your dog gets injured or undergoes surgery and is required to be on kennel rest for an extended period of time, kennel training beforehand helps lower the amount of stress they will feel during the healing process. Kennel training also provides First Responders an easy way to find your pets and safely transport them in the event of a house fire. Many people may think the animals will find a way out of the house in the event of a fire, but in many cases the animals will hide somewhere that is often inaccessible to First Responders.

Getting the right size.

There are a few factors that go into the size kennel you should pick for your dog. For dogs that are potty training, we want to make sure that it is small enough that they can’t potty in one part and sleep in the other. To achieve this, we choose a kennel that allows the dog room to comfortably stand, lay down, and turn around, but not a kennel so large that the dog can sprawl out or sleep in only half the kennel. For dogs that have completed potty training, you can use as large a kennel as you’d like. If your dog seems to be in between sizes, utilize the divider that comes with most wire kennels to make the space smaller to fit your dog. If you have a puppy and you want to avoid replacing your kennel every few months, use the divider that comes with the wire kennel to adjust the space as your puppy grows.

How To Kennel Train

1) Feed your dog/puppy every meal in their kennel. Feed the first few with the door open and gradually work up to closing the door during meal times

2) Practice “nap times” in the kennel where the dog/puppy sleeps in their kennel during the day while you’re home. If all needs are met (the dog isn’t hungry, thirsty, has gone potty, and has received mentally stimulating activities), ignore any whining.

3) Practice boring potty breaks when the dog whines. The dog/puppy is taken out on leash to potty. No attention, no play, no rewards, just potty then back into the kennel. Turn into a fence post and limit the space the dog can potty in. This will help teach the dog/puppy that whining only gets them out to potty and that whining does not lead to anything fun or rewarding.

4) Give the dog/puppy special chews or treats in the kennel. These can be marrow bones, pig ears, stuffed KONGs, or anything high value.

5) Ignore your dog/puppy entirely when they’re in the kennel. Getting them over excited in the kennel can build frustration or anxiety because they’re confined and can’t get to you. We want our dogs to be relaxed in the kennel regardless of what’s going on around them.

6) Ignore your dog for about 15 minutes after you come home to give your dog time to relax and lower the chances of creating frustration or anxiety around you coming and going from the home. Your dog will be excited to see you when you come home. Give them a chance to settle and self regulate before letting them out of the kennel. This also gives you time to decompress from work and mentally and physically prepare to work your dog.

7) Channel the energy they have coming out of the kennel into something productive. This can be a game where the focus is reengaging (works well with tug) or practicing known behaviors. This can build speed and enthusiasm in your trained behaviors and also helps avoid any jumping or mouthing.

8) Use the kennel when your dog/puppy is stressed or overwhelmed. The kennel is your dog’s safe space. Teach them that they can go to their kennel to relax when they’re feeling overwhelmed and that no one (including other pets in the home) will mess with them while they’re in the kennel.

Puppy Specific Tips

If you find yourself struggling with kennel training, potty training, or anything else, feel free to book a session and we’ll work it out.