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. Tie the door back so it’s open and your puppy can go in and out. This will allow the puppy to explore without feeling separated from you, that he is being punished 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 reward him for going into the crate and will 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 His Crate Comfy – Add some comfortable bedding for puppy to lie on. You can also put your puppy’s favorite toys in there. Give your puppy all the comforts of home in his little den so he looks forward to going inside.
- 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 your puppy for his 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 your 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 him to form an aversion to the crate if he associates it with you being gone.
- Crate Use For Potty Training – Once your puppy is familiar with the crate, you can start potty training using 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 your puppy will soon understand; he will 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. Your 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 consistent puppy parent when guidance is needed most.