How to Crate Train Your Pet for a Stress-Free Travel
Getting your companion animal used to a crate is one of the most precarious but largely underestimated activities necessary for pet travel. While most people worry that their dog or cat will see the crate as a “jail cell," the truth is quite the opposite. When crate training is handled correctly, a crate provides a calming and protective space where your pet can relax and feel secure. A crate is also a safe way to transport your pet in your car and can serve as its “home away from home” when traveling to unfamiliar places.
Most pets, having never been in a crate, can be uncomfortable when first introduced to a closed-door flight kennel. Many dogs or cats panic, scratch the crate door and injure themselves. This is why we highly recommend getting your companion animal used to their crate at least 2-3 months before the trip.
Picking the Right Crate
While there are several types of crates available for at-home training, such as Plastic, Fabric on a collapsible/rigid frame, or Collapsible metal pens, only IATA-accreted travel kennels are allowed for flight travel. These are plastic crates with a metal door, which are typically sturdier and easier to clean than cloth-type crates. It is important to pick the right crate size preferably the one in which your pet can stand up, lie down, stretch, and turn around. If your pet is still growing, be sure to choose a crate that would suit his/her adult size.
Introducing Your Companion Animal to the Crate
Crate training takes time and patience, but by going slowly, your pet should become gradually more comfortable with staying in the crate, depending on their age, temperament, and past experiences. It’s important to make crate training a positive experience. Giving them treats for going to the crate and staying inside can reward and encourage their behavior. You can help to make the crate comfortable and appealing by throwing in some toys and a used t-shirt with your scent on it. The second thing to keep in mind is that training should happen in a series of small
- Place the crate in an area of your house which is your pet's favorite, let them sniff and be familiar with the crate, do not rush things, and take baby steps.
- Encourage them to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way at the end. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, it is recommended not to force them and let them take their time.
- You should be able to make the crate a happy and safe place for your pet. It is recommended to place toys, treats, and your clothing to make it more comfortable for the pet.
Feeding In the Crate
- If your pet is readily entering the crate, place its food at the back of the crate and begin feeding them their regular meals inside. This will make the crate a happy place for them.
- If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate.
- Once your pet is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating.
Indorse Longer Crating Periods.
After your pet is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short periods to make them more accustomed. You can train your pet in a manner in which they recognize an action word like 'come inside' or 'crate' and use it several times in a day and use it several times in a day to make it familiar. It may take a few weeks or months to train them but, persistence is the key.
Crate Your Dog When You Leave
After your companion animal can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house.
- Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat or a few safe toys.
- Although they should not be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes before leaving.
- When you return home, do not reward your dog for excited behavior by enthusiastically responding to them. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you are home so they do not associate crating with being left alone.
If not used correctly, your pet will feel trapped, frustrated, and anxious inside the crate. Here are some tips that will help your pet see its crate as a safe and secure space for itself:
- Never use the crate as a punishment. Your pet will come to fear it and refuse to enter.
- Don’t force your pet into the crate, ever.
- Don’t rush introducing the crate. While crate training works well with most animals, it is not appropriate if it makes your pet anxious to the point that it may injure itself attempting to escape.
- Do not leave your pet's collar, harness, or ID tags on while it is in the crate especially those who are still getting used to their crate. These items can easily get caught on crate doors and between the bars of the crate, causing a huge and otherwise avoidable strangulation risk.
- Don’t leave young pups or kittens in the crate for more than 3–4 hours at a time as they need more frequent potty breaks and might not be able to hold themselves till they are released from the crate.
- Don’t put newspaper or housetraining pads in the crate. These materials will encourage your pet to soil the area, which is the opposite of what you want it to do while confined.
- Do not leave your pet in the crate too long. A dog or cat who's in a crate all the time and doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction will become depressed, anxious, or aggressive.
As with any kind of training, all pets progress through their crate training at a different pace. The keys to success are consistency, patience, and lots of treats and positive reinforcement. Crate training the right way means positive reinforcement! While crate training can help your pet adjust to traveling, it's not a fix for issues like constant barking/meowing or separation anxiety. If your pet experiences these issues, it’s important not to rely on crate training as a solution and instead consult a professional behaviorist.
As you start planning your trip overseas, you should consider hiring professional assistance to make your pet’s relocation safe, smooth and hassle-free. AirPets relocates hundreds of pets every year to and from India and is very thorough with its process. You can get in touch with us at +91-9257-123-123 or write to [email protected] for a professional consultation.