How to Crate Train Your Puppy
Some people may view crate training a puppy as cruel or pointless, but in reality, it is both an effective method to potty train your dog and gives your pup a secure, den-like space where he feels safe. Crate training is not usually an overnight process, so remember, patience is key in every step of dog training.
Choose the Right Crate for Your Puppy
Crates are available at pet stores and other retail outlets. There are three different types of crates:
• Metal pens, collapsible
• Plastic crates, also known as flight kennels
• Fabric crates
Metal pens are usually the best choice for everyday use while plastic crates are most often used when transporting a dog to the vet or elsewhere. Choose a crate that will allow your full-grown dog enough room to stand up straight and turn around comfortably. When your dog has not yet reached full size, select a crate that has a removable divider or block off one end of the crate. This is so your pup won’t choose to potty at one end and sleep at the other. Dogs prefer not to eliminate in the same space where they sleep and eat, so a confined area works best when potty training.
Introducing the Crate
Your goal is to make the puppy see the crate as a happy place where he feels safe and comfortable. Start by introducing the puppy to the crate gradually. Place the crate in an area of your home where you spend much of your time. The family room is usually a good choice so the puppy is interacting with his humans even when in his crate.
If you have a metal crate, leave the wire top and door off the first few days so it feels less confining. If the door was not removed, secure it open so it won’t swing and startle the puppy.
Always use a happy voice when talking to the puppy about the crate. Place soft bedding at one end and let the puppy explore. Some lucky owners discover that their dog immediately takes to the crate and starts sleeping in it right away. If that’s not the case, move on the next step.
Choose a healthy treat that your pup enjoys and make a small trail of treats to the kennel. Put one just inside the crate door and one deeper in the crate’s interior. Put the puppy down and allow him to follow the treat trail. If he hesitates to retrieve the treat that is inside the crate, don’t force him.
Repeat the process frequently, tossing treats into the kennel until your pup enters the crate confidently to claim the treat. If treats aren’t doing the trick, try using his favorite toy.
Feed Your Dog in the Crate
The next step in the crate training process is to give your pup his meals in the crate. If he hesitates to go in to eat, place his bowl at the door where he can reach it from outside. At future meals, keep moving the bowl farther into the cage.
Once your dog is comfortable eating in the crate, close the door during meals. Gradually increase the amount of time the door remains shut up until he’s happy staying in the crate for about 10 minutes.
Teaching Your Dog to Be Content in the Crate for Longer Periods
Have your dog come to the crate. Hold a treat in your hand, point to the crate and say “kennel”. Give the dog the treat when he enters and close the door.
The first few times you do this, stay near the kennel so the pup can see you, and then release him. Once you’ve successfully accomplished this, put the dog in the kennel, stay nearby for a few minutes, and then leave the room for a short time. When you can be out of sight for about 30 minutes without the puppy growing agitated, it is safe to start leaving the puppy in the crate when you are away or when you’re sleeping. Many people like to move the crate into the bedroom with them at bedtime.
Praise your dog lavishly each time he accomplishes a task you’ve requested him to perform. Be patient, keep your voice moderate and happy while training, and soon you’re dog will be content to spend time in his own safe haven.