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Emergency Crate Training... and more
Updated October 2010 by Lori Kobayashi, APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers)

Important If your dog currently has a disc herniation being treated by Conservative Treatment of 8 weeks of crate rest or is on post-op crate rest, skip the following steps and go directly to Emergency Crate Confinement. You may start the entire training program once the crate rest period is over.

It is always best to crate train your dog from the time he's a pup, or from when you first bring him into your home to avoid emergency crate training situations. If this is not the case, then don't give into the barking, the howling and the big, sad eyes! It's never too latqe to start crate training your dog! A clicker, a flashlight, a special word, a whistle, etc. is a tool to mark a specific behavior, to tell the dog exactly what it did right at the exact moment that they did it and is immediately followed with a reward. The idea is to show the dog positive reinforcement of things it does well. The dog will soon learn to associate the clicker with something it did that will result in a reward, and will want to do it again and again to get more rewards (dogs are smart).


  1. Get a wire crate that only allows dog to stand up in and turn around, no room to walk or jump up.
  2. The fastest way to crate train is to keep your dog happy.
  3. Clicker train them! It only takes a few minutes per day.
Get a clicker (most pet stores sell them). The dog doesn't have to do anything at this point, just be next to the dog with a bag full of small treats like pieces of apple or carrot.
Click, and immediately give him a tiny treat. Repeat 10 times (waiting until the dog finishes the previous treat and is waiting for the next to repeat). Very quickly, the dog will learn that when he hears the click, a treat is coming. The BEST time to do this training is before your dog has eaten so you can use their food in addition to high-value treats.

Afterwards, go with the dog to the crate-preferably in a small room without a lot of distractions. Pick up any toys off the floor so that your dog will be more likely to interact with you. Throw a high-value treat or cookie to the BACK of the crate. If the dog makes any attempt to look at the cookie in the back of the crate, click and toss another treat into the crate. Your dog should go into the crate to eat the treat. Let your dog eat the cookie, and then toss a jackpot of little tiny treats/food into the crate. NEVER close the crate door at this point.

If your dog makes the decision to STAY in the crate and not rush back out, click and toss a few treats into the crate. Continue to click and treat your dog for making the decision to stay in the crate. If your dog decides to run back out of the crate, don't say/do anything. Wait a few seconds. If your dog even LOOKS toward the crate, click and toss the treat into the crate so your dog has to go into the crate to get the treat. Before your dog can run out of the crate again, try to click again, and toss in more treats. See if you can gradually increase the time your dog chooses to stay in the crate by waiting just a little longer before clicking and tossing treats. If your dog loses interest in the treats, or attempts to leave the room - STOP! What we are doing is building value for going into the crate. Keep your first few sessions short and fun.

The next few sessions, you will remain at all times close to the dog with the door open. Drop a little treat from the top of the crate towards the back so that the dog begins to think the crate grows yummy treats and thinks only good things of the crate (and stops thinking it's jail).

Slowly condition the dog that when you close the crate door, they hear the click and get a treat. You must NEVER put dog in the crate without giving it a treat.
Video clip of one trainer.

Other recommendations:
  • Soak kibble in broth and freeze each  normal kibble portion into a Kong so the dog has a job... working for his food Feed your dog all their meals in their crate. 

Emergency Crate Confinement

If your dog is on Conservative Treatment or post-op crate rest, and your dog is not happy about being in the crate, you'll have to try a few different things to make them more comfortable with being confined. If your dog is making a big deal about being in the crate, I highly recommend not feeding your dog their meals from a bowl. All of his meals will be fed as part of his crate adjustment training.

Some dogs prefer to be crated in a central location in the home where most of the activity in the home happens like a kitchen or living room. Some dogs do better confined to a crate in a more quiet area of the home like a bedroom or finished basement. Try different locations for their crate to see where they seem the most settled down. Ideally, have multiple crates in multiple locations. I recommend one in the main living area and one in the bedroom.

Tips and hints

If your dog is not happy in their crate and begins barking and howling while in the crate, give no eye contact. Ignore them, don't yell at them, don't say "no", "quiet" or anything else. They are barking for attention- and ANYTHING you do is giving them attention. Turn your back, go to another room, no talking. When calm, use your clicker or verbal marker like "yes" to show the dog that being calm is the correct behavior and proceed to give a treat and attention. As soon as there is barking and whining again, leave. Soon the dog will learn that being quiet gets treats and attention, and that barking and whining makes you go away. You should use all of your dog's meals to reward your dog for being calm in their crate. If your dog has a cervical disk injury, attach a bowl to the side of the crate at the proper level, and drop the food/treats into the bowl.

If your dog doesn't calm down and continues to bark/whine when you leave the room you can try a few different things.

  1. Cover the crate with a blanket. If your dog pulls the blanket through the crate bars, put a sheet of wood or cardboard over the crate that is slightly larger than the top of the crate so the blanket doesn't touch the side of the crate.
  2. Sit next to the covered crate with your dog's food and some high-value treats. As SOON as your dog is quiet, click and feed your dog a treat under the blanket in the crate. The clicker is useful in this instance because if your dog is barking/whining a lot, it enables you to mark the exact moment of "quiet" which may be very brief. If your dog starts barking/whining again after you click, STILL feed them the treat but put the cover over the crate again. You should start to see an increase in "quiet" periods if you do this for many repetitions. Once your dog is quiet for 20-30 seconds, start to lift the side of the blanket closest to you. If they remain quiet, click/treat. If they bark, don't say anything- just put the blanket back down and wait for quiet. Repeat. The key to this is patience, and complete silence from you when your dog is barking. You also want to keep your verbal praise low-key when your dog is quiet. It is fine to tell them "good dog" and "good job" etc. -- BUT remember, we are trying to keep them calm and if they get all excited when you praise them, we may be undoing all the work we've done.
  3. You should start to be able to uncover the crate for longer periods of time. Once your dog can be quiet with the crate uncovered for about a minute, leave the crate uncovered and walk out of the room. If your dog stays quiet, IMMEDIATELY click, return and feed a treat. If your dog starts barking, return and cover the crate. Wait a few seconds and try again.
  4. Try to work on calm crate behavior at least once a day (with their meal), and preferably twice a day. The more sessions, the better.
  5. Crates in the bedroom. If your dog is used to sleeping in the bed with you, try to put the crate on a sturdy table or chair next to the bed so the crate is at eye level with you when you are in bed. This may help some dogs be able to see you, and feel like they are closer to you.
  6. Play relaxing music for your dog. There have been scientific studies that have shown the calming effect of some types of music on dogs (and people!).,, 
  7. Put a few drops of lavender essential oil on bedding. (Caution: DO NOT use if your dog has a seizure disorder because lavender oil may be a seizure trigger.) Lavender essential oil has been proven to have a calming effect on laboratory animals. It has to be essential oils, and not lavender fragrance. I use either a few drops of lavender essential oil, or I spray down their crate blanket with Chill Out Spray which has lavender and chamomile.
  8. DAP Plug in diffuser: DAP = Dog Appeasing Pheromone is the pheromone that is released when a mother dog is nursing her puppies. There have been no scientific studies that have shown that this works, but some owners report a benefit to using DAP, so it is worth trying and isn't harmful.  [editor's note: Using any oral calmer in combination with a Pheromone diffuser seems to work best.  It takes several days for these to start working - it isn't immediate but they are a much better option if you can avoid heavy duty prescription sedatives such as Acepromazine, Trazodone, etc. Of course always keep your vet in the loop on all things you give your dog. 
  9. Use a DAP diffuser with one oral calmer from below.
    1) ANXITANE® S chewable tabs contain 50 mg L-Theanine, an amino acid that acts neurologically to help keep dogs calm, relaxed
    2) Composure Soft Chews are colostrum based like calming mother's milk and contain 21 mg of L-Theanine.   3) Bach'es Rescue Remedy Pet

Prescription medications:

If your dog continues to exhibit signs of anxiety like excessive drooling, urinating/defecating in crate (when it is known they have bladder/bowel control) or frantic attempts to escape causing physical injury you may need to discuss with your veterinarian the possibility of prescription medications. Please work with your veterinarian to decide the best medication for your dog taking into account their current medications and health. The following is a list of some medications that your vet may suggest. This is NOT meant to replace your veterinarian's advice. It is merely a list of some medications that may be used. It is not a complete list. Plain Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) ask your vet for the dose,Acepromazine: For any sort of anxiety/fear behavior, this medication is actually NOT recommended by veterinary behavior experts, Valium (Diazepam), Xanax (Alprazolam): You can ask your vet for a prescription that you can take to a regular pharmacy, Clomicalm (Clomipramine): a veterinary drug specifically for separation anxiety. It takes 2 weeks for a therapeutic dose to build up in the body.


Again, use your clicker when you take the dog outside to where it has pottied before or other dogs have (during potty training, do not completely remove all previous potties, so the dog has a mark of where to go). Say the magic words: Go potty and let the dog sniff around. If it goes potty, immediately click and treat. If it took you too long to take the dog outside, and it had an accident inside, use it! Rub a newspaper on it and place it outside to mark where the dog has to go, and take him there on the next potty break. During the entire potty training, do not punish the dog, give him the evil eye, or say harsh words if he has an accident - we're doing positive training here.

NOTE: A clicker is not the only device that can be used. A small LED keychain flashlight for the deaf (dog should be looking for the flash, not the spot of light. If your dog is watching for the spot, choose something other than a light for your click.)

Any accidents inside must never be cleaned with an ammonia product, instead use a product specifically designed to clean up urine odor like Natures Miracle, anti-icky poo, or other enzymatic cleaner that will completely eliminate the source of the odor. An inexpensive option is white vinegar in a spray bottle to clean up urine... removes odor and disinfects.


This information is presented for educational purposes and as a resource for the Dachshund community. The coordinators are not veterinarians or health care professionals. Nothing herein should be interpreted as medical advice and all should contact their pet care professionals for advice. The coordinators are not responsible for the substance and content contained herein and do not advocate any particular product, item or position contained herein.