Just a quick question about crate training. He quite likes his crate and being in it, but he doesn't like being separated with the door closed, which I know is normal. I'm trying to teach him that whining and barking won't get him out of his crate, and reward being quiet. Unfortunately, he doesn't give much opportunity to reward calmness while stuck in his crate. My question is, if he's been whining/barking for a few minutes, how long of a silence/calmness is enough to reward. If he is briefly quiet for 5-10 seconds is that enough for him to associate the treat/release from crate with his calmness or will he still associate the treat/release with the whining he just got done with 5-10 seconds ago? I don't want to reinforce the wrong behavior, but I'm eager to reward silence so I can use the crate as a potty training tool more effectively when I can't watch him every second, and I'd love if it wasn't a howling match each time. Any additional advice about crate-training would be appreciated.



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There's a vital difference between crate training and obedience training.

In obedience training, you say a command, your dog (hopefully) follows it and expects a reward for it. In crate training you put your dog into a place where it's supposed to stay for an undefined amount of time. The most desirable outcome is that your dog is calm and doesn't expect any interaction for a while.

That's why "rewarding" silence by opening the crate is not very effective. As long as the dog expects any reward, it's loud. As soon as the dog is quiet, it doesn't expect a reward anymore. Opening the crate as soon as the dog relaxes may even be detrimental, because it teaches the dog that it should not relax in the crate because every time it relaxes the excitement of being let out again immediately follows.

The better course of action is teaching your dog that crate time means being ignored. Don't react to anything your dog does, don't speak to it, don't even look at it. No reprimand for whining, no praise for being quiet. You can make this easier by offering your dog a chew toy or chewing bone and by making the environment as calm as possible (no playing children or other dogs around).

Have a look at this question and answer to see how to act while opening the crate to avoid whining and over-excitement.

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