Dogs are den-dwelling animals. That being the case, you can understand why a dog would find comfort and safety in a crate or small kennel. Puppies and dogs enjoy having a place to themselves where they know nothing can get at them, or is expected of them. Let’s take a look at the following information to find out why you would want to crate train your puppy and how you would proceed.
Crate Train Your Puppy…What exactly is Crate Training?
Crate training is the process of getting a puppy comfortable with staying in a crate as a means of security and as a place of safe retreat. That’s why crate training is not cruel; it is quite the opposite, providing comfort and safety for your new family member. Deciding to crate train your puppy may also be used to help potty train a small puppy.
Some experts say that crate training is the basis for all further training. It sets the stage for good puppy behavior and gives them a level of confidence they may miss without crate training. Another advantage of being crate trained early on is it can help reduce anxiety in the event puppy needs to be crated, such as at an overnight stay at your veterinarian’s clinic or hospital.
Choosing the Crate to Crate Train Your Puppy
When buying a crate for your new puppy, you’ll want to consider his size. The crate needs to be big enough for the puppy to be comfortable but not so large that puppy no longer sees it as a den. If you get a crate that is small enough, puppy will greatly resist using part of it as a potty place, as they see their crate as their den and want to keep it clean. If you get a crate too large, your attempt to crate train your puppy may not work as he may use one side as his den and the other for a potty.
Resist the temptation to save money by buying one crate for the life of the puppy. The crate you use to train your puppy should fit your puppy’s size now. Then, if you choose to have a crate for your full-grown dog, buy a new one to fit your puppy’s adult size later. Some crates and kennels take this into consideration and offer a divider so you can section off a larger crate into a smaller den for your puppy. For goodness sake, don’t buy a puppy sized crate and then keep using that once your dog is full grown. That would be considered cruel, and I have discovered people doing just that.
There are many types of crates, some designed for stationary use and some designed for travel. Some crates are designed to be mini-kennels, with features like quick breakdown and easy folding for transporting. You’ll find wire crates and plastic crates. Decide where you will put the crate and how you will use it before you choose one.
Crate Train Your Puppy – Crate Training Basics
Once you have a crate that is the proper size, you’ll need to begin to get your puppy used to his new “house”. Here are a few tips for getting puppy to explore and enjoy the new crate:
- Leave the Door Open – Place the crate in a central location where you spend time and are close by. Then tie the door back so it’s open and your puppy can go in and out. This will allow puppy to explore without feeling separated from you or trapped. Puppy won’t understand at first that the door opens as well as closes, but he will after further exploration and training.
- Drop in a Few Treats – As puppy explores, the little treats you’ve left inside the crate will delight him and encourage more exploration. This will allow puppy to associate happy feelings with the crate and will help him to become accustomed to using it more quickly.
- Make Crate Comfy – Add some comfortable bedding for puppy to lie on. You can also put puppy’s favorite toys in there. Give puppy all the comforts of home in his little den.
- Short Intervals Only – Once you start closing the door, be sure to keep puppy’s time in the crate short. Younger puppies cannot hold their bladder for very long so don’t leave him in the crate too long or your crate training will backfire. Over time you can increase the intervals. Try crating puppy after a potty break for about 15 or 20 minutes. Set a timer and release your puppy when the time is up. And don’t forget to praise puppy for the good work!
- Crate Train Only While Home – When you leave for a few hours at a time, section off a safe area of the house for puppy to stay while you are away. Set the crate in the safe area with the door propped securely open so puppy can use it as a resting area within the play area. Closing a puppy in a crate while you are gone for a long period of time may cause puppy to form an aversion to the crate if associated with you being gone.
- Crate Use For Potty Training – Once puppy is familiar with the crate, you can start potty training with the crate for short periods of time. As soon as you take puppy out of the crate, go right outside to the potty spot. If puppy goes potty, make sure you praise, offer treats, and play. If puppy doesn’t go potty, then back to the crate for another short interval. Repeat this routine several times a day and puppy will soon understand and get to know his crate and his potty spot. Remember to be consistent if you choose this method.
If you stay the course with crate training you’ll find the rewards are great. Puppy will love the comfort of his new ‘home’ and will become more and more capable of controlling the urges to potty wherever and whenever. Puppy will also appreciate you for being such a determined and solid puppy parent when guidance is needed most.