How to Crate Train Your Puppy
Crate training is a good thing for your pup. While some people believe it is a cruel practice, it isn’t. When trained properly, a puppy will come to see his crate as a safe place where he can go and be comfortable. Crate training is needed to prevent damage, when travelling, and to aid in housetraining. The proper sized crate will make a pup feel secure and safe, not like he is being mistreated. This article will discuss how to properly crate train your puppy so you and he will enjoy the experience.
Crate Training Considerations
Before you begin crate training, there are some things to keep in mind.
- If crates (and training) aren’t used properly, a dog will feel trapped, frustrated, and unhappy. This is not what you want.
- Crates aren’t meant for behavior correction and should never be used to punish a dog.
- If your dog is going to be in a situation where you expect he will misbehave, crate him before he can get into the situation.
- Remove his collar or harness when he’s in the crate (and certainly when he’s left alone in the crate). If anything on a collar gets caught in a crate, your pup could strangle himself. If a harness gets caught, he may panic. You don’t want him to associate a traumatic event with his crate.
- Don’t work on training in the middle of playtime. He will want to keep playing, not be locked in a crate.
- Be patient. This cannot be rushed. It may take six months to complete his crate training. Don’t go in expecting your puppy to get this overnight.
Types Of Crates
There are different kinds of crates you can pick from.
- Cloth on a rigid frame (collapsible)
- Plastic (good for travel)
- Metal (collapsible)
Crates can be purchased at most pet stores and pet supplies websites. They come in different sizes and some are adjustable which are good for puppies as they grow.
The crate should be big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around. It should also have a comfortable bed for your dog. The bed needs to fill the space with no left over room. If there is room outside the bed, a dog that isn’t housetrained, my use that extra space to urinate or defecate.
Your first goal should be to keep the crate a positive and pleasant place for your dog. Crate training can take up to six months. You don’t want to rush training. Take your time and do it right by using small steps.
1 Introducing The Crate
You should locate the crate where you will be most of the time. No puppy wants to be shut off alone in another room. Put a soft bed in the crate and leave the door open. Let the dog investigate the crate as they wish to. Your dog may like it right off and start sleeping in it. But he may not. If your dog isn’t interested right away, follow this process:
- Show the crate to the puppy. Praise the puppy in a calm tone. Make sure the door is kept open and secured so there’s no chance the pup could be hit with the door.
- Use treats and food to coax the puppy into the crate. If he doesn’t want to go all the way in, don’t force him. This is a process you want to win. If you frighten the puppy, it will take even longer.
- Keep using treats until your pup will go completely into the crate. If he doesn’t want the treats, try his favorite toy. Don’t rush.
- Toss treats or toys into the crate and let him go in to get them and come back out. Make a game of it. Make it fun.
2 Teach With Food
Once your puppy is willing to go at last partially into the crate, use mealtime to reinforce that the crate is a happy place.
- If your pup is going all the way into the crate, put his food bowl at the back and let him eat it there.
- If your puppy only goes partially into the crate, put the food bowl as far back as they are comfortable going. The move it a little further back for the next meal.
- As soon as your pup is comfortable eating inside the crate, close the door while he eats. Open the door as soon as he’s finished the meal the first time you do this. After that, each time he eats, keep the door closed a little bit longer until you work up to 10 minutes. If he gets distressed at any point, back off, you’ve increased the time too quickly. Go to a shorter time and then work back up. The crate must be a pleasant, happy place.
3 Practice Increasing Time
- Once your pup is eating in his crate with no anxiety, it’s time to increase the time he stays inside.
- Give your pup a toy, such as a Kong, to entertain him in the crate. Using frozen peanut butter in a Kong will give him a treat and make staying in the crate rewarding.
- Stay close to the crate. Sit quietly for 5 minutes or so, then go into another room for a few minutes. Return and site by the crate for a few minutes, then let him out. Repeat this several times a day. Gradually increase the length of time he stays in the crate and the amount of time you say out of his sight.
- Once your pup will tolerate 30 minutes crated with you mostly out of sight, you can start leaving for short amounts of time.
4 Crating When You Leave
- Provide a toy, such as a Kong.
- Vary the time you crate your pup when you are getting ready to leave. Anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes prior to your leaving.
- Give brief praise then leave quietly. Don’t make a dramatic production of departing.
- When you return, keep it low key. Don’t reward excited behavior by acting in kind. You don’t want to create anxiety when he’s waiting for you to return. Keep everything low key and calm.
- Continue to crate here and there when you are home. Don’t just crate when you are leaving home.
Crate training doesn’t have to be an ordeal, but it does take time and consistent work. You can teach your pup to see his crate as a safe place to relax and sleep. Dogs actually enjoy sleeping in their own “den,” and once properly trained, won’t mind a crate at all. In fact, they will probably go take a nap inside the crate on their own if the door is kept open. Crating is an excellent option for you and your dog.