Crate training is one thing makes raising a puppy a little bit easier. Puppies are very curious when they are young. They want to investigate and explore everything. They use their eyes, nose, teeth, and paws to learn about the environment around them. This is very cute but can also be very expensive.
What is a crate?
The best way to manage a puppy inside of your home is to use a crate. A crate is a management tool. It is used to train a puppy or dog how to co-exist in the same dwelling as humans. Use it to train your dog in the first couple of years of their life. It is not a lifelong thing. Once your dog is good outside of a crate unsupervised you can stop using a crate if you want to.
What if we don’t want to use a crate?
If you are opposed to using a crate for your new puppy or dog then you will need to set up an area for your new friend. This area must be free of electrical cords and anything you don’t want to be destroyed or soiled on. Make sure it is not too big and your puppy won’t be able to jump out or move the walls. You want an area that is just big enough to stand up, turn around and lie down. Otherwise, your puppy will get into the habit of defecating on one side of his area and sleeping on the other side.
Will my puppy hate his crate if we use it for timeouts?
The answer to this is no. Puppies do not associate negatively with his crate unless something bad happens to him while in a crate. Never ever hit or kick the crate with a dog or puppy inside. That will make the crate a scary place and your puppy won’t want to use it. It is very important to build positive associations with the crate. For example, when you crate your dog give him a treat-stuffed kong or a chewy. Take this item away when he comes out of the crate. Your dog will learn that he only gets this amazing thing when he is in the crate. This will make him more eager to go into his crate.
How do you train your dog to use the crate?
In order to provide your dog with positive interactions with the crate, build your dogs confidence and self-control I highly recommend Susan Garretts’ version of crate games. She has a DVD out that you can purchase or you can go to youtube. Your dog will very quickly learn that their crate is their safe place. He will look forward to playing these games with you.
Here are a few tips to help your puppy get used to his new crate.
- Always tire your dog out before putting him in the crate.
- Put non-destructive toys in the crate for your puppy. This will help keep your puppy from getting bored.
- When you put your puppy in the crate give him something of high value. Like a treat-stuffed toy or a bully stick.
- Put your puppy in the crate often for short periods of time. When you are home and when you have to go somewhere. This will teach your puppy not to associate crate time with you leaving.
- If your puppy is 3 months old, he will need breaks from the crate every 4 hours. 4 months he will need a break every 5 hours etc. If you have to work you may need to look into a dog walker, pet sitter or enroll your puppy into a doggy daycare.
- When you first bring your puppy home set your alarm to take him outside every 2 hours. Increase the time slowly on a weekly basis. If your puppy is starting to defecate in the crate decrease the amount of time between breaks. Eventually, your puppy will learn to bark or whine when he needs to go outside. Also, as your puppies bladder develops he will be able to hold it for longer periods of time.
- If your puppy cries non-stop overnight you can try giving the puppy a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. This resembles the heat of a littermate. It can be very soothing for young puppies. Increase your dogs physical and mental stimulation before bedtime. If your dog is full of energy at bedtime then it is harder for him to settle down and fall asleep. If your dog is still loud overnight and you know he doesn’t have to go to the bathroom, simply move his crate to another part of the house so his cries as muffled. Over a few days, your puppy will learn that overnight is time to sleep and he will learn to settle down in his crate. If you think your puppy might be crying due to anxiety you could try a Thundershirt and put his crate next to your bed. Every night slowly move his crate out of your room. Eventually, put his crate where you want him to sleep overnight.
- Cover the crate with a blanket. Sometimes this helps puppies to settle down overnight.
By following the above guidelines you will help your puppy get used to the crate. It will provide a safe space for your dog and give you peace of mind.
Have a tip that helped you crate train your puppy? Leave it in the comments below!