A Complete Guide to Crate Training Your Puppy
When you get your new pup, you may not think about the importance of crate training at first, and it's natural. He's cute, he wants to play all the time, and it's incredible to have a new member in the family. Of course, there comes a time when you need to figure out what to do with your pup when you're not around. How is he going to behave on his own? Will he be destructive? Or maybe he will mark his territory all around the house.
That's definitely not a scenario any new dog owner wants to think about, but it's something you need to decide the moment your pup gets home. We know how important it is to have a wonderful relationship with your dog, and the importance of training!
Crating your puppy can be the wisest decision you make, and it's going to facilitate the whole training process because your dog starts learning the basics of obedience training.
In general, when we are talking about crate training a puppy, we encounter two types of arguments. One that says that it’s not right to contain the puppy from a young age, and the second that says that dogs are den animals.
It’s important to mention that properly crating a puppy won’t harm him in any way. In fact, some dogs would feel more comfortable to have their own safe space. Think about the pregnant dogs who are trying to create an enclosed space for them and their puppies.
Having a safe space for your dog to stay in will assure his comfort, especially when you are not with him, thus preventing severe cases of dog anxiety.
Benefits of Crate Training Your Puppy
Crate training your puppy is beneficial for both of you. It keeps him safe when you are away, and it keeps you calm knowing that! Besides, there are a few other reasons you may want to crate train your puppy.
House Train Your Puppy
House training is one of the most important things you need to keep in mind. You don't want your dog soiling the entire house, so this is something you can correct with crating.
Dogs won't usually soil their sleeping spaces. As long as you make sure you take your dog out regularly, he will start learning the schedule, when it's time to go potty and most importantly, where.
Of course, there are many more methods of housebreaking your puppy, but this one is one of the most effective.
Your Puppy Has a Safe Space
Just as kids like to go to their safe space when they are scared, dogs do that too. His crate can become his space of comfort whenever he has a case of anxiety, or he gets scared by loud noises outside.
Travelling With Your Puppy
When you first get a puppy, you may not think about this, but you should be able to transport him by car. Whether you need to go to the veterinarian or on vacation, your dog needs to learn how to travel.
If he learns from a young age that he is perfectly safe in the crate, you won't have to worry about travelling with your dog.
Keeping Your Puppy Safe
One of the main concerns when getting a puppy is how to keep him safe when you're not around. In all fairness, if you leave your pup alone in the house when you go to work, there are a million things that can happen.
He can jump on the furniture, try to play with everything he finds and even get destructive if he’s feeling lonely.
By crating your pup, you can avoid these accidents and he will be ready for a walk when you get home!
After surgery, your dog will need a safe space to stay in, at least until the effect of the anaesthesia passes. If you teach him to stay in his crate when he is a puppy, he will feel perfectly comfortable and relaxed in his crate in case of a medical emergency.
How to Choose a Crate for Your Dog
When it comes to choosing the best crate for your puppy, there are several aspects you need to keep in mind. From the material, to the size and transportability of the crate. The most popular crates are made out of plastic or metal, and we are going to talk a little about each of them.
The first thing you need to do before choosing a crate is to consider your puppy’s size. He needs to have enough space to stand up, turn around and stretch. On the other hand, if your pup has too much space in there, he may create a place he can soil, and that’s something you are trying to avoid.
Because finding the right size for your pup's crate can be a hard job, you may end up changing a couple of them before he grows up. Of course, it can be expensive to change it all the time.
A good idea would be to get a modular crate for your pup, which you can adjust as he is growing up. Besides not having to buy a different one in every growing stage, your puppy will get used to it as being his home.
Metal Dog Crates
Metal crates are some of the most popular. They are easy to assemble, disassemble, move around and store. Unlike plastic crates, the metal ones offer a high level of visibility and ventilation for your pup. A very good aspect is the fact that they are easy to clean and modular, meaning that it can "grow" with your dog.
They go for £30-£300 on Amazon depending on the size and number of panels you need.
Plastic Dog Crates
Plastic crates are an excellent choice for travellers. Almost all airlines require your pup to travel in one of these, but they may not be a great choice to keep at home.
Even though they offer more privacy for your pup, you may want to be able to see what he does in there. Besides, he may not feel comfortable with not seeing everything that happens outside.
A plastic crate can go from £15 to £90 on Amazon and they come in different shapes and sizes to suit your needs.
Soft-Fabric Dog Crates
The soft dog crates are not the best option when you start crate training your puppy. They can be hard to clean in case of an accident and don’t offer the same stability as a metal or plastic crate.
The good part is that they are lightweight, great for travel, and you can simply collapse and place them in storage when you’re not using them. They go from £19 to £60 on Amazon.
Crate Training Guide
Step 1: Introduce Your Dog to the Crate
As you start crate training, you first need to make sure that your pup is perfectly comfortable with the crate. Place it in the room where he usually stays, open the door and let him explore.
It's very important to let him get as close as he wants at first. You can stay beside the crate, offer some treats and speak with your puppy. You can even place some treats and toys inside the crate until he decides to enter.
Don't close the door immediately after he is in the crate. He may get scared and not want to get in again. Let him get in and out, sniff around and get used to it.
Step 2: Develop a Positive Association and Set a Marker
As your puppy is starting to get used to the crate, it's time to make the place cosy for him. Place his favourite blanket or bed inside of it and see his reaction. You can give him some extra treats while he is in the crate.
This is the moment you should introduce a marker. Use a word or clicker to mark his behaviour every time he enters the crate. This will be your marker every time you need him to be in the crate. You can click and praise using a clicker, or say your marker and praise.
By this time, your puppy should know that the crate is safe, and you can start feeding him in there in order to maintain this behaviour. If he's reticent about going in, try placing his bowls near the entrance and move them further into the crate with every meal.
At this stage, you can start closing the crate door when he is eating. Make sure you open it the moment he is finished though.
Step 3: Keep it Short
By now, your puppy should be somewhat used to the crate and being in it. After staying inside for his meals, you can start extending that time. Call your dog and use the marker you set for entering the crate. It can be 'crate,' 'kennel,' or anything you find appropriate. Just as with any command, make sure it's not something close to your dog's name.
After he is in, give him a treat and slowly close the door. Start with letting him in for five minutes while you stay next to the crate. It's important not to let him out if he is whining or pacing, as you will enforce the wrong behaviour. After the five minutes, you can let your pup out and offer him a treat.
You will keep doing this step until your puppy is comfortable with sitting in the crate unsupervised for about 25-30 minutes.
Step 4: Work on Duration
Your ultimate goal is to be able to crate your dog while you're not at home. Regardless of where you're going, you may not come back in under an hour, so your pup needs to stay in his crate for quite long periods.
Of course, you need to start small and make sure your dog is comfortable at all times in this journey.
If you don't know whether your dog is enjoying being in the crate or not, watch his behaviour. If he is playing with his toys and looking excited, then he is doing fine. On the other hand, if he is pacing and whimpering, something may not be right with him. You can try increasing the value of his treats and toys and even decrease the duration of his stay in the crate.
Step 5: Further Extend the Duration
In order to reach the point where your dog is comfortable in his crate for longer periods, you may need to practice for a few weeks. You can now start leaving your pup in his crate for more hours at a time, and even overnight if he doesn't show signs of anxiety.
At this point, you really need to consider your actions, and how you leave your pup in the crate. Take 10 minutes before you leave to comfort him, so he doesn't associate the crate with being alone. Another idea is to put his kennel in your bedroom at night, so he knows that he is not alone. This doesn't have to be permanent, but he needs to feel loved at least at the beginning. In time, he will learn that he is safe in the crate, no matter where it is.
After you come home, make sure you don't seem overly excited about it. He will already be thrilled to see you, and you shouldn't respond with the same excitement. Take a few minutes, and then go and talk to him before allowing him to get out.
Step 6: Your Pup is Ready!
After your dog learns this behaviour, you must maintain it. Dogs like routines and will appreciate consistency. If you and your dog made it clear that he needs to eat, take a walk and stay in the crate at a certain time, it would be best to keep that schedule up.
As long as your pup is having a great time in his crate, then everything is going to be alright. Make sure that he is enjoying his toys and always has clean water in there.
Tips for Crating Your Puppy
- If your dog is whining while he is supposed to be in his crate, you can take him outside, as he may need to go potty. Make sure you don't play with him at that moment, as it will break the routine.
- Don't use the crate as a punishment. It needs to be a safe space for your pup, not a time-out zone.
- Never scare your pup when he is in the crate. Some owners may think that it's a good idea to bang on the crate when their puppy is whimpering, but that's never the case. You want to make sure he is happy in there, not scared. Try to find the reason behind his behaviour.
- Don't keep a puppy crated for more than three hours at a time. They can't hold their bladders for longer and may have an accident in the crate. Take the time and take them outside every couple of hours for that.
- You shouldn't keep your pup in the crate at all times. Dogs are very social creatures and can't go for long periods without affection. If you can't find a way around your schedule, make sure to hire a dog walker for him!
In general, the time required to train a dog differs. No two dogs will learn at the same pace, and you need to be patient with your puppy. If you stay consistent and follow the routine you set, he will soon learn what and how he needs to do.
Besides, your pup needs to have access to the best treats, because that's the key to successful training. When talking about treats, we can place them in two categories. There are low-value treats and high-value treats.
Naturally, by using treats with high value for your puppy, he will be willing to learn much faster. You can try one of our many types of dried sausages or the whole range of natural treats, and you will see how important it is to have the right treats for your pup!
In the end, make sure that your dog is perfectly comfortable with everything you’re doing. It takes two for a successful training session!