It is a good idea to introduce your dog to a kennel crate as early as possible in his life and associate it with positive experiences in order that your dog crate training is a casual affair more about familiarity than anything else. If you are going to require that your pet travel in the crate at any time or be housed in it occasionally, then the more familiar it is, and the more your pet associates it with security and comfort, then the happier you will both be.
One big mistake that less experienced dog owners, and less sensitive people, make is trying to force or otherwise cajole a behaviour out of an animal instead of more natural means. When you consider what is required of a dog to be ‘crate trained’ it is simply that he enter the crate and sit or lie in it; that he not constantly attempt to escape it or run away at the sight of it, and that he doesn’t express his discomfort at the situation by barking or howling or otherwise being unhappy. All of this behaviour, and these reactions, are due to unfamiliarity and negative associations; all of which are entirely unnecessary with a little preparation and good sense.
You should never have to force your dog to do anything; especially enter a kennel crate. If a dog resists going into such a box or displays distress in any way then he is either unfamiliar with it and nervous of what is to come, or else he has previously had bad experiences – pushing him into a crate will be one of those bad experiences which will make him even more reluctant later on!
As with all training activities, positive reinforcement is usually the most fruitful approach to take; especially when introducing new or unfamiliar activities or objects into your animal’s life and surroundings. When your pet does something you wish to encourage, then praise and reward him and he will quickly learn to repeat the behaviour. If you want your dog to feel happy and relaxed around a new crate kennel, then associate it with positive things such as treats and comfort. Dog crate training isn’t something you do on the day before you need your dog to use it, it is something you prepare him for over time.