The crate is a critical tool for ensuring your new foster dog’s safety, your safety, and increasing the adoptability of your dogs. Crate training a foster dog can vary in length of time, but for new foster dogs who are not immediately drawn to their crate, a few tips for creating a positive association between your new foster dog and his crate:
- Routine and Structure – Begin with using crate time for the easiest routine times and in small increments. Some favorite starting points include at night, during mealtime, and while you are watching TV so your foster dog does not associate the crate with times you are gone.
- Consistency – Whichever routine points you choose to introduce the crate, make sure you consistently use them every single time – for every meal or each night.
- Rewards and motivation – Reserve mealtime and top tier rewards, including stuffed Kongs or favorite toys, for crate time to build a strong positive association with your new foster dog and his crate.
- Patience – Don't try to rush crate training! Break the process into smaller pieces for quicker success. It may seem counterintuitive, but the slower you go in the beginning and create positive associations, the faster the overall process will be. The goal should be ending on a positive note each time the crate is interacted with.
Other helpful things:
- Audio - Music (Bob Marley has proven to work wonders!), audio books or even TV can help provide a sense of company and a sense of calm.
- Camera – A monitor or camera can be instrumental in making sure your new foster dog is safe in his crate.
- Cover – A blanket over the crate can create a den-like experience that is cozy and a safe, private space for your pup.
- Bedding – A soft spot for your pup that is just as comfortable as the couch or bed will entice them to choose their crate as a favorite spot.
There are numerous articles and vlogs on positive-reinforcement and force-free crate training that you can reference.
The Complete Dog Fostering Guide with Jess of @101Fosters
Don’t forget, if you are fostering puppies, you are required to pay puppy tax in the form of cute photos and videos. If you can, consider fostering a mamma dog and her puppies!