How to Crate Train Your Puppy
If you have a puppy or a dog that needs to be in their crate for long periods of time, it can be hard to keep them calm and quiet. Keeping them occupied with their food, toys or other activities can help them stay focused and content.
Once your puppy has become comfortable with going into their crate for short periods of time, you can start to leave them alone in the crate for longer. Practice this a few times, and increase the length of time that they stay alone in their crate as you go along.
1. Get the Right Crate
If you have a young puppy, crate training is the perfect way to give them a safe and comfortable place to sleep. Plus, it’s a great tool for preventing accidents and protecting your furniture and floors while you are away from home.
Start by picking the best crate for your pup. There are many types and sizes of crates, so find one that’s appropriate for your dog’s height and weight.
Make the crate as comfy as possible by adding a blanket and some toys. A blanket is also a good idea for keeping the dog’s scent in the crate, which can help them feel more secure and reduce anxiety when they’re alone in the crate.
The crate should be placed in a room where you spend a lot of time, but away from foot traffic. It’s recommended to choose a space in the living room or bedroom, where you can keep your dog happy and relaxed.
To acclimate your puppy to the crate, you need to get them used to being there for short periods of time. This will teach them that being in the crate is not a punishment.
Once your dog is comfortable being in the crate for short periods of time, slowly increase the amount of time they are in it. Try leaving it for a few minutes after meals, increasing the time progressively until they are staying in it for 10 or so minutes without whining.
Once your dog is happily spending long periods of time in the crate, you can start to leave the house. Just keep the crate door open for a short time before you leave and make sure she’s calm before letting her out. This will help prevent separation anxiety when you leave the house.
2. Set Up the Crate
Crates are a great tool to help control and train your dog, as well as create a safe place for them to go when they need to relax or sleep. While they may look like a cage at first, dogs of all ages can easily learn to be comfortable in them as long as they’re properly introduced.
To get your puppy used to the crate, start by introducing it to her in a positive way. The key is to make it feel like a fun place, where she can rest and relax. Fill it with cozy blankets and pillows that she likes to lay on, as well as a toy or two.
Once she starts to feel relaxed and secure, gradually increase the amount of time. Initially you’ll want to keep it short – just 10 minutes at a time – so she doesn’t associate crating with being left alone for long periods of time.
Before she’s ready, however, you’ll need to teach her how to enter it herself. Use small food treats to encourage her, starting by dropping them near the crate door and then just inside it, and finally all the way in.
Don’t push or force her to enter a crate – that’s a surefire way to cause her to become anxious or uncomfortable.
If she gets into the habit of crying or whining when you’re trying to get her into the crate, ignore it until she stops. But it’s normal for pups to cry when they’re in their crate, as they’re learning how to self-soothe.
After a few days of this, you’ll be ready to start using the crate to housetrain her. Just make sure you don’t leave it open for too long, as puppies can’t control their bladder and bowels for longer than an hour or two at a time, which can lead to accidents.
3. Give Your Dog a Cue
Before you can begin crate training, you must first give your dog a cue to enter the crate. This cue can be a verbal or visual word, such as “kennel up” or “kennel.” You will want to use this cue as often as possible and remain consistent with it over time.
Once your dog is comfortable entering the crate, you can try to teach her how to stay inside and quiet when you leave. This may take some time so don’t be afraid to break this up into several sessions over the course of a few days.
To start, say your cue with authority and calmness to make sure your puppy pays attention. When she hears the cue, she should look to you for confirmation that you are telling her what to do.
When your dog has a clear idea of what you are asking them to do, begin to reward them when they comply with the cue. This means using praise and treats, or another form of reward, to show your pet that you are happy with their response.
Your cue needs to be easy for your dog to understand and distinct from other things they have already learned. This can be a verbal or visual word, hand signal, or presentation of something they see.
As you continue to train your dog to use her cue, you will find that she is more responsive and focused on you, and not just on what she’s being asked to do. She’ll also begin to pay more attention to you and your other commands, which is always a good thing!
Once you have mastered the basics of cueing, it’s time to work on other behavior training. This will help your dog learn to pay attention and respond to you in different situations, which is essential for being a well-rounded family member.
4. Close the Crate Door
When you first begin crate training your puppy, make sure that you leave the crate door open when you’re home so that your dog can use the crate to go to sleep. This will help them associate the crate with a safe place to go.
Once your dog is used to the crate and it’s a positive place for them to sleep, you can start closing the door during the day. This is useful for two reasons.
One, it will allow you to keep an eye on your dog during the day. This will be especially helpful if you have small children in the house who may be tempted to take your dog out of the crate and let him run around the house unsupervised.
Second, it will help prevent your dog from destroying furniture or chewing on things they shouldn’t. This can happen when your dog is still a puppy and you’re not able to supervise them all the time.
You can also close the crate door during the day if you need to get work done or if you have another adult dog in the house. This will ensure that your puppy doesn’t have a chance to get out of the crate and potentially knock over something or run away.
To get your puppy to want to go into the crate, you should use treats and toys as rewards. Using this method, you can gradually build up to having your dog stay in the crate for longer periods of time.
5. Let Your Dog Out
Crate training is one of the easiest ways to train your dog, but it can also be difficult. Depending on your dog’s personality and level of obedience, crate training may take anywhere from days to weeks or months to complete.
To get started, put your puppy in the crate with a favorite toy and a food dish filled with treats near the door. Once he’s comfortable entering the crate, begin letting him out of it on his own.
As you do this, be sure to give him lots of praise and rewards for good behavior and a soft voice when he does something wrong. This will help your puppy associate the crate with positive things and not negative ones.
Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave him in the crate and the amount of time you’re out of sight. It might take a few days or a week, but eventually, your puppy will learn that staying in the crate for short periods of time is no big deal!
Once he’s doing this, you can start leaving him crated when you go out for short periods and/or letting him sleep in the crate at night. This is a great way to ensure your dog has a safe, comfortable place to stay while you’re away from home and will help prevent accidents in the house.
For best results, use a dog crate that’s large enough for your puppy to stand up in comfortably and that’s located in an ideal room in your house. Don’t forget to have a toy handy, like a chew toy or puzzle toy, so your pup can relax and play while inside the crate!