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I started leaving Zak in there for 10s, then I came back and sat beside the crate for 2 mins, then I left for 20s, came back, left for 30s, then 40s, then 1 min, then 5mins, 10min, 20min - and so on.

Slowly building up to leaving him in there for a few hours. What are your opinions on duration training in the crate?
 

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Try Crate Games DVD by Susan Garret. She uses reward based methods that are fun and broken down into simple steps and set up the foundation for impulse control and stays. How old is your dog? I started my last two dogs as pups and have never had any big issues beyond some whining the first few times. I like to give them something to distract them from the fact that I am leaving and make going in the crate something positive. They were crated through the night, so being in it for an entire night was not a problem and I didn't bother building up to it. First night home they got crated for the entire night, minus potty breaks. You can feed him in his crate as well to build value so he learns good things happen in the crate.

What is his behavior while crated? Has he been crated previously or is this new?
 

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it really depends on how old your dog is and how their crate behavior is from the start. If you've got a young puppy, it should be spending the majority of the day in the crate, it should only come out to go on walks, potty, training (when the pup should be eating), supervised playtime with you, other than that it should be in the crate. this will pay off for you later.
 

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How old is your dog?

I personally did not have luck teaching my older dog (2 at the time), to crate using Susan's method. It could definitely be that I messed up somewhere along the line, as I was just dipping my toes into the dog training waters at that point. However, I bought the DVD and followed the steps, and ended up with a dog who will happily go in a crate, and not whine or cry, for many hours. HOWEVER, he also does not relax. He will just stand or sit there until he gets tired and lays down. This sometimes takes and entire hour. He will literally just stand up in a crate, not moving, for an hour. I feel bad leaving him unattended because I have no idea how long he will stay like that. It's rather bizarre, but I haven't analyzed the issue too much because I rarely have a need to crate him, as he is trustworthy to leave free in the house and tethers very nicely in public. So, FWIW, Crate Games is not necessarily always the answer, especially for novice trainers.

With my last two puppies, I have crated at night from the beginning, and done a simple version of crate games for daytime crating. I just tossed food in the crate to encourage them in, then continued rewarding for staying in voluntarily. I didn't do a systematic increase of time, though. Once the dog happily went in on its own, I would simply leave them a food dispensing toy, yummy bone, or stuffed Kong, and left them in there for however long I needed. Worked like a charm.
 
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