Image Credit: bdollproject
Crate training a puppy is something that is beneficial for both you and your puppy. It makes them more prepared for travel, gives them a “safe place” that’s all their own, and even keeps them calmer during trips to the vet or when being boarded.
And oh yeah, it’ll help you potty train too. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Introducing Your Puppy To The Crate
- Chose a place that the crate will stay. Set it up and let your puppy get used to it being in your home. Let him/her sniff it, walk in and out of it on their own and do all the investigating they like.
- Make the crate comfortable and inviting with a soft blanket or bed. It’s best to use bedding that your puppy is already familiar with (bedding that smells like them). This will help your puppy feel more at ease with the idea of being in the crate.
- If your puppy doesn’t seem interested or is shying away from the crate encourage them to come closer with a calming voice. Use training treats to lure your puppy over.
- Drop treats inside the crate to encourage them to go inside. Don’t force them. Instead, let them be curious and take their time.
- Once your puppy has entered their crate, praise them in a calm and loving manner. Praising them loudly will excite them which is not what you want. You want your puppy to see the crate as a quiet, comfortable and relaxing place.
- Continue this process every few hours so that the crate becomes an enjoyable place for them to relax.
Adding A Command
Once your puppy is adjusted to their crate and sees it as a happy place you can add a command. You’ll use this command whenever you want your puppy to go in their crate.
This command is useful for when guests come to your front door, when you’re preparing a meal and don’t want to be tripping over your puppy, or any time you feel your puppy needs a break.
It should be simple and be used by everyone in your family. You can simply use the word “crate” or say “go in your crate.”
- Choose a command that you’ll stick with.
- Say the command and gently guide your puppy into their crate, then give them a treat and praise them.
- Let them exit the crate on their own (even if it takes a moment) then practice the command again.
- Practice this several times a day until they are very familiar with the command and walk in on their own without guidance.
Closing The Door
Once your puppy is completely comfortable in their crate (eating, playing, napping, etc.) you can start practicing closing the door.
- First use your crate command.
- Once your puppy enters the crate and is calm, close the door for a few seconds. Remember, you don’t want to shut the door until they are completely relaxed. If they are excited when the door is shut, they can develop anxiety over being crated.
- Only keep the door shut for a few seconds at a time, then open the door, give them a treat and praise them.
- Repeat this, keeping the door closed for a bit longer each time.
- Do this every few hours each day until your puppy can sit happily in their crate for several minutes at a time.
It’s important to remember not to reward whining and excitement with treats, praise or affection. If you do so your puppy will begin to whine while the door to their crate is closed.
Leaving The Room
The next step in crate training a puppy is leaving the room while they are secured inside. Practicing this is easiest when your puppy is sleepy or tired after a walk.
- Ask them to go in their crate , then shut the crate door behind them.
- Then, quietly leave the room for a few seconds. Keep in mind that saying something to them before you leave the room (such as, “I’ll be right back!”) can create excitement which can then create anxiety.
- When you come back into the room, quietly open the crate door and give your puppy praise and treats. Remember not to open the door if they are whining. Only open the door when they are quiet and calm. If you need to, stand at the crate for a moment until they calm down, then open the door quietly.
- Just as you did when teaching your puppy to be in their crate with the door closed, gradually increase how long you leave the room and how far away you go.
- A good time limit goal is one hour so work up to that at a slow and steady pace.
If they are sleeping when you come back into the room, leave them alone and let them rest until they wake up.
Leaving The House
Once your puppy is comfortable being in their crate with the door closed for an extended period of time you can begin leaving the house with them in their crate for short periods.
- Quietly and calmly ask your puppy to enter their crate with their crate command.
- Calmly close the door behind them.
- Stay in the house until they are completely calm and at ease then leave for a short period of time.
- When you get back calmly take your puppy outside without exciting them over your return.
- Gradually increase the time you’re away.
Always keep in mind that your puppy has limited control of his/her bladder. When crate training a puppy there may be accidents, which they can’t always help. Give them plenty of potty breaks and make sure your puppy always has fresh water in their crate.
Of course, this is just a small part of the many things you’ll need to cover with your new puppy. And if you’re like me, you learn better by watching rather than reading.
Fortunately, there’s a great dog training video series that covers basically everything you could ever need to know. It’s ran by an excellent trainer named Dan, who’s shot over 250 videos that show you all aspects of caring for your dog. Go watch his free video series today!
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