What is Crate Training
Crate training is the process of teaching your puppy or adult dog that the crate is his own little cozy den. This is his safe spot where he can curl up and take a nap during the day, or if you’re traveling, his crate will feel like a home away from home! While you may think you don’t want to undertake crate training a puppy, it’s something we recommend for anyone bringing home a new puppy.
Who Should Crate Train
Some dog owners mistakenly think that crate training is like putting your dog in a little prison, but I am here to put your mind at ease and say that it most emphatically is not.
Just as us humans need our space away from our others to relax, so too does your pooch. And with the correct training, he’ll come to love his puppy crate.
When You’ll Need To Use The Crate
If you’re one of the many amazing owners who tend to spend pretty much all of their time with their four-legged friends, you might be wondering why you’d need to crate train a puppy. Despite how much we love our dogs, here are a few scenarios that will simplify life with Fido if he is accustomed to his crate.
Going To The Vet
Most dogs will unfortunately get injured or become sick at some point during their lives and when that does happen, it’s best to be prepared. In this scenario, when your dog is at the veterinarian’s clinic for treatment, he will likely be placed in a kennel to aid in recovery. If your dog is used to being in his own space without you there to hold his hand, he’ll stay calm and maintain a great mindset to focus on feeling better.
Road Trips and International Travel
Are you one of those people that just love to pack up for a weekend road trip? Or better yet, have you ever thought about packing everything up and moving to the other side of the world?
Road trips and international relocation are both incredible and joyous opportunities to be with your dog, but they can also be incredibly tiring. The stresses of being somewhere new affect us, and our fluffballs, but if they have their home away from home with them every step of the way, they’ll hopefully curl up and nap right through it.
As much as we see our furbabies as members of the family, some visitors to our home may be afraid, or worse yet, allergic to dogs. You, of course, don’t want your guests to feel as though they’re making a nuisance of themselves by coming over so popping Fido in his crate for an hour will be the perfect solution!
What You’ll Need To Start Crate Training a Puppy
To crate train your dog so that he doesn’t pee in his crate, it’s vital that you purchase a correctly sized crate. It is possible to buy crates that have adjustable dividers for puppy owners to adjust as their dog grows.
You will also need:
- A Favorite Toy
- Puppy Pee Pads
- Dog Bed
- Water and Food Bowl
Why A Toy?
Puppies are ruled by play and therefore, a great reward for them performing a desired behavior is some playtime with their favorite toy.
Why Puppy Pee Pads?
Use the dog pads away from the crate so that your pup understands that potty zone is nowhere near the crate. We find that the best puppy training pads have adhesive strips to hold them in place so that your energetic puppy can’t use them as a toy.
Why a Dog Bed?
As the crate should be your dog’s own private den, we want to make it as inviting and as comfortable as possible. It shouldn’t be a chore to go and stay in his crate, but a reward.
Why a Water and Food Bowl?
Dogs have a fantastic built-in preference to not piddle where he sleeps and eats. So by putting his bed and water/food bowl in his crate, he should begin to understand that this zone is pee free.
Top Five Tips for Crate Training Puppies
Let’s Get Comfortable
Pretty soon after bringing home a new puppy, the puppy should begin to see you as the alpha of his pack. Dogs look to the alpha for reassurance when they detect danger, and also to warn them if there is something awry that they’ve not noticed. As Fido is looking at your reaction and emotions to figure out how he should feel about the crate, you want to emulate the reaction you want from him.
Pop the crate up with doors latched open. Grab a book, a cushion, and lean up against the crate and hang out. Your puppy should get curious and want to come and hang out with you! He might even go into the crate, but don’t force him to. This exercise helps him to feel as though he’s the one that decided the crate is where he wants to be.
Many new puppy owners ask, “Should I feed my puppy in his crate?” Now that your puppy realizes that the crate isn’t a scary monster, “yes,” you can enhance his love for this den by having feed time take place in the crate. Feed time is one of your pup’s favorite times of day, and by teaching him to associate his happiest times with the crate, he will love being in there. Try to be consistent with this, and even if you’re feeding treats, pop them into the crate.
It’s important that your puppy doesn’t feel trapped at this stage, so make sure you leave the door open.
Closing The Crate
When it first comes time to close the crate, it shouldn’t be for more than a few seconds.
You can introduce this new aspect of puppy crate training by popping a few treats into the crate, letting Fido walk in, then gently holding the door closed while he eats them.
As soon as he’s done and walks over to the door, wait for him to stand there (and not push against the door) then let him out and reward him plentifully. I’m not talking about saying a quick “Good boy”, now is the time to make your pup feel like the greatest dog on earth. Get that favorite toy ready and have a very joyous play session!
Extending the Time Inside
Once your pup has gotten accustomed to waiting at the door until you open it immediately, you can then begin to extend the time that he spends inside. During this phase, you absolutely have to keep reminding yourself that patience is a virtue as it’s going to take some time to build up to being able to leave Fido in his crate for an hour or so.
Starting by popping him in for ten, then thirty seconds is a great start. Then increase it to him being fed in the crate with the door closed. During this time, you should be just outside of the crate. Once you get to the stage that you can leave him in there for five to ten minutes with you hanging out with him, it’s time for the next stage.
Unsupervised Crate Time
The jump from standing by your dog’s crate to leaving him in a room alone can be a tough one, but you can start by walking to the other side of the room and then returning. And then going into the other room, then returning. Keep practicing this and you’ll have a fully crate trained pooch in no time.
The most important training tip that I can give you when crate training puppies is always to wait for your dog to be in a calm state of mind before letting him out of the crate. If he’s bouncing around all over the place trying to paw his way out, sit down beside the crate and calmly wait until he calms himself down.
Don’t shout at him, or fuss over him. This attention will have the opposite effect and teach him that by fussing, he gets attention. This is one of the hardest puppy training techniques for many owners to stick to, but compare it to a child that only wants to eat candy, you’re going to stick it out and make them eat their veggies as even though they’re wailing - you know that it’s for their own good.
How To Avoid Your Puppy Peeing In The Crate
As you’re lengthening the time that Fido spends in the crate, you want to be very careful to let him out regularly to limit the opportunity for peeing in the crate. This is where your potty pads come in! Have them set up in a different area of the house that is at least twenty feet from where his crate is situated.
What we don’t want to do, is get him into the habit of peeing in the crate, and if this does happen, be sure to disinfect everything fully, and take him out more frequently to visit the pad.