How Do You Crate Train a Puppy?

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Crate Train A PuppyNew puppies will always look for a happy place where they will feel comfortable — giving them crate training allows them to have a quiet and safe place to shelter them when needed. It will also serve as a tool that will prevent them from chewing items at home and can help during their house training, not to mention that crates can help transport dogs inside cars. As you can see, there are many benefits to this process, which is why this article answers the question, “How do you crate train a puppy?”

What You Need to Know About Crate Training 

Contrary to what people might think, a crate won’t provide a magical solution to your dog’s behavior. When used incorrectly, it can make a dog feel frustrated and trapped so it should never be used as a form of punishment. Moreover, some dogs won’t like crates at all so it may not be an option for them — below are a few other things you need to consider before using a dog crate

  • Rather than wait for your dog to misbehave when you have guests coming over, be sure to put it inside a crate with its favorite toy ahead of time. It will also help to give it some yummy treats that will keep it occupied to help give your pup a positive association with crates.
  • Try not to leave your dog inside the crate for longer periods of time; dogs that are left inside a crate all day and all night may become anxious and depressed. Consider moving your schedule around or taking your pooch to puppy daycare to prevent it from spending too much time inside a crate. 
  • If you have a new puppy under 6 months of age, don’t let it stay inside a crate any more than 3 to 4 hours. This is because young puppies won’t be able to control their small bladders for long periods of time, even if they’re potty training. The same thing applies to adult dogs that are getting house-trained.  
  • Be sure to crate train your pooch before you allow it to stay alone in your house without any accidents or turning to destructive behaviors. When you think your pup is done with its training, be sure to limit them to a small area of your house first such as your kitchen before giving it full access to your home whenever you leave. 
  • Make sure that your dog’s crate has a comfortable dog bed and be sure to leave the crate door open when you’re at home to tell your pup that it has a safe space it can run to. The crate can also be used whenever your dog wants a quiet place to rest.  
  • While a crate may serve as your pup’s den, your dog shouldn’t spend a lot of time inside it, in the same way that you wouldn’t spend your whole life inside just one room in your home.  

How to Select a Crate

There are different types of crates for you to choose from, which include the following: 

  • Fabric crates, which are made using a collapsible and rigid frame
  • Plastic crates, also called flight kennels
  • Metal crates, which are also collapsible

They can come in different sizes and can be purchased from pet supply stores or online. Some can even be adjusted as your dog grows, making them a great option for puppies. Make sure that you choose a larger crate that allows your dog to comfortably stand and turn around inside. 

Apart from the type of crate you choose, the size of the crate will also be important. If your pooch is a few months old, you may want to consider buying a crate that can accommodate its adult size. You can also see if your local animal shelter rents out crates; renting can help you determine the right size by the time your pup becomes an adult rather than investing in a crate that may not fit your dog as an adult.  

How to Crate Train a Puppy

Crate training will depend on factors like your dog’s age, past experiences, and temperament, which is why it may take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. There are two things that you will need to keep in mind during your crate training; 

  • The crate should always be associated with a positive experience
  • Your dog’s training should always be done in small steps and don’t do it too fast

Introducing Your Pup to its Crate 

Before anything else, place your crate somewhere in the house where everyone spends much time such as your family room. Be sure to place a bed or a soft blanket inside and keep the door open to let your puppy explore the crate whenever it wants. Some dogs may be naturally curious and sleep inside the crate straight away, but if your pup isn’t like this, here’s what you can do: 

  • Take them over to their crate and address them using a happy tone of voice. Ensure that the door is open and secured so they won’t accidentally hit your dog and scare it. 
  • You can encourage your pup to go inside by placing some small food treats on the floor right outside the gate, and then slowly putting them inside the crate. While your dog may not go inside at first, it’s important not to force them to enter and wait until they’re confident enough. 
  • Be consistent with your effort and keep placing treats inside the crate until your dog can calmly walk inside their crate to eat the food you offer. If treats won’t do the trick, try using their favorite toy to invite them inside. 

Feeding Your Pup Inside the Crate

Once you’re done introducing your dog to its crate, you can start feeding it regular meals close to the crate. Doing this will help establish a pleasant association between your dog and its crate, but here are some more pointers: 

  • If your pup quickly adapts to its new environment, you can place its food dish or favorite chew toys stuffed with food right at the back of the crate.
  • If your pooch still won’t enter the crate, only place their food as far as they’re comfortable without becoming anxious or fearful. Every time you feed them, place their dish further inside the crate little by little.  
  • Once your dog becomes comfortable eating their meals inside the crate, you can slowly close the door and leave them to eat inside. During the first time you try this, open their door once it finishes its meal. Whenever you successfully feed your dog be sure to leave the door closed longer each time, until they’re able to stay in the crate for 10 minutes after it finishes eating. 
  • If your dog whines after they finish eating, you may have extended the length of time they spend inside too quickly. Next time, use a shorter time period when you leave it in the crate. 

Practice Longer Crating Periods 

Once you can get your dog to stay inside and eat in its crate without showing signs of anxiety and fear, you can start confining it under short periods of time when you’re home. 

  • Start by calling your pup and leading it inside using a treat.
  • You can use a keyword such as “crate” to help it understand your command and you may encourage it by pointing to the crate with a toy or treat in your hand. 
  • Once your dog enters its crate, be sure to reward it with lots of praise, then give it the treat or toy then close the door. 
  • Be sure to quietly sit near its crate for 5 to 10 minutes then leave for a few minutes. Come back and sit quietly for a while before letting your pup out.  
  • Repeat this a few times every day while gradually increasing the amount of time they’re inside the crate as well as how long your pup doesn’t see you. 
  • When your dog can stay inside quietly in its crate for around 30 minutes even when you’re not around, you can start leaving them inside their crate when you leave for a short time. You can also let your pup sleep inside for the night, but this part of the training may take a few days or weeks. 

Leaving a Crated Dog 

When your dog is comfortable enough inside the crate, you can start leaving them inside even when you’re away. 

  • Put your dog inside the crate using your established command along with a treat; you may also leave a couple of safe toys with them inside. 
  • Make a few variations whenever you’re getting ready to leave — while you shouldn’t leave your dog crated for a long time before leaving, you can crate them anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes before leaving. 
  • Make sure that your departure isn’t prolonged and emotional and should be as quick as possible. Be sure to praise your pup briefly, give it a treat, and leave quietly. 
  • When you come back home, never reward your pup when it exhibits excited behavior, and don’t respond to it in an enthusiastic way. Don’t advertise your arrival since this could increase their anxiety. 

Crating Your Dog at Night

Place your dog inside its crate with your regular treat and command; it could be a good idea to have its crate inside your room or out in the hallway especially if you’re working with a puppy. Young dogs will often need the potty during the middle of the night, so you’ll want to hear your pup whenever it whines to go outside. An older dog should also be kept near you so they don’t feel isolated whenever they’re crated. 

Once your dog is finished with its nighttime crate training, you can start gradually moving it to a location around the house that you prefer. However, remember that any time you spend with your dog — including sleep time — can help to strengthen the bond you and your pup have. 

Conclusion 

Crate training is an important part of being responsible dog owners, but the crate training process may not always be easy. Be sure to take into consideration the possibility of separation anxiety no matter the dog’s age, and that puppies will need to go on a potty break more often than adult dogs do. The best way to get the right crate is to think of how big your dog will get, and the first thing you need to do is turn your crate into a positive place for your pup.

 

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