New puppy? Congratulations! How exciting! If you have gone through puppyhood before and know the ins and outs of everything from house training to how to save your shoes, awesome! Rock on. But if you have never owned a puppy and have no idea where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Next to house training, the next most important part of puppyhood is crate training. Read on to find out why crate training is so important for puppies and where to start.
It’s important to crate train: here’s why…
The real purpose behind crate training is to create a safe place that is just your puppy’s. A place where they can go when they are stressed, a place to sleep, and a place to stay when they aren’t old enough to have free roam of the house when you are not there to supervise.
As your puppy grows up, their crate should still remain their safe place. Think of it as their own room. A place they know they will not be bothered if they feel overwhelmed.
The goal of crate training is for a positive effect on your puppy, not a place of punishment. Although, most dogs will run straight for their crates when they know they are in trouble – because it is a safe place. Additionally, crate training your pup keeps them out of harm’s reach when they’re home alone. Safety is always number one, and you can never be too careful when it comes to your dog.
Where to start when crate training your puppy
First thing, you need to find a crate that is adequate for the size of your puppy. It’s recommended to go ahead and buy the crate that will be big enough to hold your puppy once they are fully grown. This way, you don’t need to buy a new one and they stay familiar with the same crate. The crate should be big enough that, once fully grown, your dog can stand up comfortably without having to hunch over and should be able to turn around in.
Next, once you bring your puppy home, introduce him to the crate by making it a nice place to be. Put a blanket in it, or a dog bed and some toys. Even throw in an old sweatshirt that smells like you. The point is to make the crate a positive place to be, not a punishment.
Use treats and games to help your puppy feel more comfortable about being in the crate. Give them a Kong toy filled with delicious goodness when they go to their crate. Don’t make them stay in the crate all day, start with an hour at a time, but if your puppy starts whining or barking, don’t let them out until they are quiet. Otherwise, they will know they will be let out once they start complaining about it. See “How Do I Keep My Dog From Barking So Much?” for more information on that topic.
Key Information on crate training your puppy
Be sure that your puppy gets potty breaks. No puppy wants to lay in a soiled bed. Remember that crate training is a process and there will be good and bad days, so don’t lose your temper and yell at your puppy. Leave them in the crate a little longer every few days and keep increasing the time as they become older. Keep the crate in a quiet room where your puppy will not be bothered.
It’s important to make sure that while in the crate, your puppy is not wearing a collar or harness because it can be a choking hazard. Don’t leave them in there all day long, but reward them once they go into their crate and when they are quiet. Praise them when they come out after being a good puppy! Some people even have cameras up in the room so they can keep an eye on their puppy when they are gone.
Remember, crate training should be a positive experience for your puppy. Be patient, it does take a few months. For the expert puppyhood parents, how did your crate train your puppy?