No one wants an unruly puppy that chews on our furniture and goes potty indoors. Thankfully, you don’t need to deal with that for long. Crate training is a useful solution that helps you create a positive environment for training.
You may think that placing your puppy inside a crate is cruel, but it’s actually beneficial for their development. Crates aren’t the jail cells we think they are. For our puppies, the right crate is their “den” space, where they can sleep and relax after a hard day of playing.
Like all canines, puppies are den animals so they enjoy having a resting place that’s intimate and secure. Crates provide them with a feeling of safety and home, and as they get older, they’ll be less likely to experience anxiety.
When crate trained properly, you establish order and security in your puppy. Here are 5 easy steps for crate training your puppy.
1. Choose the best crate for your puppy.
Choosing the right crate can be tricky but it’s the best way to start with crate training. We highly suggest taking the time to find the best crate for your puppy’s needs. A crate that’s too large or too small leads to individual problems that can discourage you from crate training.
For example, a crate that’s too small makes it hard for your puppy to see it as a sleeping space. They won’t be able to stand, stretch, lay down, and perform other actions because there isn’t enough space for them.
On the other hand, a crate that’s too large may cause your puppy to view the corner as a toilet—and trust us, it’s not something you want to wake up to!
Also, remember that you will need to switch crate sizes to allow your puppy to grow into them. Puppies experience growth spurts throughout their development so it’s important to be ready to head to the store to purchase a brand new crate.
Fortunately, some large crates have a feature that increases or shrinks their size to accommodate your puppy. With these crates, you can shrink down to your puppy’s small size and then increase it as they grow.
Along with sizes, crates also come in various types like plastic and wire—all have their benefits and disadvantages.
For example, if you want to give your puppy privacy, use a plastic crate. Wire crates are spacious and offer your puppy visibility. The crate you choose should be based solely on your puppy’s needs and comfort. All crate types are great resting spots for puppies.
2. Begin introducing the crate.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect crate, it’s time to introduce your puppy to it! This should be a gradual process. Your puppy should feel comfortable whenever they enter and exit their crate.
It’s going to be their new resting place, after all. The more familiar it feels for your puppy, the quicker they’ll get used to it.
The best way to introduce your fur-baby to their crate is to let your puppy explore it. You should crate train your puppy in an area that’s secure without any distractions. Don’t guide them towards the object—let them approach it if they want to.
Leave the crate door open so that they can explore the inside as well. Never push, scold, or force your furry friend inside the crate. Doing so will make your puppy associate their crate with fear.
Give your puppy their deserved space. In time, they’ll grow to love their new crate enough so that you can start crate training indoors.
3. Set up the crate as a sleeping spot.
Your furry friend likes exploring their new crate. They enjoy sniffing, stretching, and even laying down inside it. However, sleeping is another story.
At night, you hear your puppy crying and whining to be let outside of its crate. Here’s where you might be confused; what happened to the progress your puppy made in warming up to their crate earlier?
Well, your puppy may not be comfortable with making their crate their sleeping spot. The only solution is to create a cozy environment inside of it.
Place a dog bed, blankets, pillows, and toys. Grab some treats and toss them inside their crate. Put other familiar puppy items in their crate too.
Your puppy will start to associate their crate with familiarity and establish it as their new sleeping spot!
4. Teach your puppy crate tolerance.
Now that you’ve allowed your puppy to explore its crate and transformed it into a cozy place, the next step is to build crate tolerance. Your puppy needs to get used to being locked inside for an extended period of time.
Teaching a puppy crate tolerance can be fun! Remember to use positive reinforcement for this lesson. Grab a delicious treat, let your puppy smell it, and put it inside their crate.
Take a few minutes, even if your puppy is begging you, before opening the crate door. When your puppy goes inside, close it.
Pay attention to your furry friend’s behavior. If they eat their treat and do not fuss, good! Leave them in until they start begging to be let out. If your puppy starts crying the second you close the crate door, let your puppy out but do not let them have a treat.
This process teaches your puppy that yummy treats and good things can be found in their crate. Don’t stop this method until they can tolerate being inside without food as a reward.
5. Increase puppy’s time in their crate.
While your puppy learns to tolerate their crate, be sure to establish a crate training schedule for them. Having a schedule allows you to monitor your puppy’s progress so that you can increase the length of time they spend inside their crate.
We suggest starting a schedule about a week into crate training. Puppies thrive when there’s a consistent routine in place. Your furry friend will become accustomed to their crate and may even enter it for a quick snooze.
Once your pup has accepted its crate as its bed, you may move it to another area of your house, if needed. Some owners place their puppy’s crate inside or near their room so that their puppies feel comfortable.
The key to training is consistency—and in-door crate training is no different! Be consistent and patient when training your puppy. You’ll notice your puppy grow to love their crate and use it as their designated spot for resting.
Other puppies may take longer to get the hang of things. If that sounds like your puppy, it’s okay. The first few crate training sessions are tough for any new puppy but we promise it’s worth the time and hassle!
Continue crate training and soon, your puppy will be catching z’s in their new favorite sleeping space!
Read our blog, 5 Useful Tricks to Teach Your Puppy to learn how to teach your furry friend the most essential commands and tricks!