This article is from the Your New Dog FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore with numerous contributions by others.
You should take some effort to crate train your new dog, if it is not
already so trained. There are several benefits: if you have to
housetrain it, a crate is most helpful; a crate gives your dog a place
of its own which helps the adjustment period; and it gives you a means
to train it toward being left in your house all day.
Before a dog is locked into a crate, the dog must be as comfortable
with it as possible. If a dog is put into a crate while it is afraid
of the crate, the dog's fear may build while inside and the resulting
trauma may be impossible to overcome.
To make a dog comfortable, the dog must first learn not to fear it,
and then to like it. To alleviate fear, the following things can be
* Put treats or food into the crate for the dog. Start near the
mouth of the crate, and then move the treats farther inside each
* Leave the door off the crate or tie it back at first. The door can
swing shut on the dog while the dog's head is in the crate,
startling the dog with the contact and the strange sound.
* Possibly get the dog used to part of the crate. For instance, take
the top half of the crate off and use all these tricks to get the
dog used to that alone, then repeat the process with the whole
* If the crate is big enough, get in yourself. (seriously!)
* Get the dog excited about a toy and throw it in the crate for the
dog to chase.
* Think of the crate as a good thing yourself. Dogs are good at
reading their master's attitudes. Never (ever) use the crate as a
* Once the dog will go into the crate, feed the dog its meals in the
* If the dog seems particularly averse to the crate, try a different
type of crate (eg, instead of a wire mesh, try the plastic kind or
Once the dog is unafraid of the crate, put the dog inside and close
the door. Immediately lavish the dog with praise and food for a short
time, then let the dog out. Do not, at this time, leave the dog alone
in the crate, or the dog will associate the crate with your leaving.
Also, before the dog is fully acclimated, it may grow panicky if left
in the crate long.
Finally, put the dog inside for progressively longer periods of time,
always praising the dog as it goes in, and perhaps giving treats.