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  • Writer's pictureLeilani Nichols

Crate Training Your Cairn Terrier

The Basics of Crate Training Your Cairn Terrier

Crate training is an effective way to provide your Cairn Terrier with a safe and comfortable space while helping with house training and reducing destructive behaviors. When I worked full time as a veterinary technician my dogs spent a good portion of their day in a crate, and lived very happy fulfilled lives (Cairns are easy! They like to sleep most the day as adults anyway) My dogs would often "put themselves to bed" when it was that time, and they see their crate as their safe comfortable home. I'm lucky enough to be home a lot with my dogs these days as a stay at home mom, but crate training is still an extremely useful tool. Here are some simple steps to get started:

Why Crate Training is Important

Crate training offers numerous benefits for both you and your Cairn Terrier. It helps with housebreaking by teaching your dog to hold their bladder, provides a safe space for your dog to retreat to, and can reduce anxiety by creating a den-like environment.

Choosing the Right Crate

Select a crate that is large enough for your Cairn Terrier to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but not so large that they have space to use one end as a bathroom. A well-sized crate ensures your dog feels secure and helps with the training process. (If you're raising a puppy they will outgrow their initial crate, plan to have 2-3 crates as they grow. This will help avoid accidents)

Introducing the Crate

  1. Make it Comfortable: Place a soft blanket or bed inside the crate to make it inviting. Add a few toys or treats to encourage exploration.

  2. Positive Associations: Allow your dog to explore the crate at their own pace. Encourage them with treats and praise whenever they go near or inside the crate.

Training Steps

  1. Feeding in the Crate: Start by feeding your Cairn Terrier their meals near the crate. Gradually move the bowl inside the crate to create a positive association.

  2. Gradual Increase: Begin closing the door for short periods while your dog is inside eating. Gradually increase the time they spend in the crate with the door closed, ensuring they remain calm and comfortable.

  3. Short Absences: Once your dog is comfortable eating in the crate, practice leaving them in the crate for short periods while you are at home. Gradually extend the time as they become more comfortable.

(All very typical steps for any breed, but these are of course tenacious and confident cairn terriers we are talking about! My puppies usually go home comfortable with a crate already and SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT their first night home in a crate. If you want to know how I do this step by step you can watch my Youtube)

Tips for Success

  • Consistency: Use the crate consistently and establish a routine.

  • Avoid Negative Associations: Never use the crate as punishment. The crate should be a positive and safe space for your dog.

  • Patience: Every dog adjusts to crate training at their own pace. Be patient and consistent, offering plenty of praise and rewards.

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