Puppy Crate Training Tips
Crate training your puppy can be very beneficial, especially if you intend to travel with your dog or if he should ever need to be hospitalized. The crate will become your dog’s den, his own special place, and using the crate can also help in housebreaking your dog. Here are recommended steps for crate training your dog.
- Choose the Crate. You’ll want to purchase a crate that is large enough for your dog to move around and stretch out in but not so large that he could use one corner for the bathroom and still avoid that corner.
- Make the Crate Comfortable. Choose a busy area in your home for the crate so that your dog associates it with activity. Place your dog’s favorite bed inside or pad the floor for his comfort. Make sure to prop the door open so that it won’t accidently close and lock your dog inside. Remove the door if necessary. You don’t want the dog to fear the crate or feel trapped. Place a few of your dog’s favorite toys inside the crate and possibly a few treats to entice him to go inside.
- Never use the crate as punishment and never force your dog inside. You want him to go into the crate willingly and on command. Once your dog is comfortable going into and out of the crate freely, begin placing his food inside, easing it back further from the front of the crate each day until your dog is completely inside. You can close the door while your dog eats but open the door as soon as he is finished. Each day, leave the door closed a little longer after your dog finishes his meal. Give your dog time to adjust to having the door closed without whining. If he whines, you’ve increased the time too soon. Don’t let the dog out while he is whining otherwise he will learn that whining gets you to open the door and let him out.
- Once your dog can sit calmly in the crate for 10 minutes after his meal, begin leaving him inside for longer periods each day. It is not time yet for you to leave him on his own for a long period of time or he may feel abandoned but you can go to another room for a few minutes, return, and sit beside his crate for another few minutes before releasing him. Repeat this several times a day. Increase the time period in this routine daily until you can leave the room for 30 minutes without issue.
- As soon as your dog is comfortable in the crate for 30 minutes with you absent, you can begin leaving him there for longer periods. Walk to the mailbox, run an errand, mow the lawn or vacuum the car. As time passes, you can leave the dog in the crate for longer periods without him eliminating inside.
Rules of thumb: Never release your dog from the crate when he is whining – wait until he stops – and, with the exception of nighttime, your dog should not be shut up in the crate for a maximum of six hours at a time.