Article at a Glance
- Crate training your puppy starts with choosing the right crate
- You need to crate train in stages and slowly build up the amount of time your puppy spends in the crate
- Your puppy should see their crate as a place to relax, not somewhere they go when they’re being punished
Table of Contents
- Select the Right Crate
- Measure for Size
- Consider Your Puppy’s Age
- Consider the Material
- Get the Crate Ready for Your Dog
- Get Into the Right Mindset
- Introduce Your Puppy to the Crate
- Make a Game of It
- Feed Your Puppy Meals in the Crate
- Try Closing the Crate
- Condition Your Puppy to Stay in the Crate for Longer Periods
- Know What Pitfalls to Avoid
- Too Much Time in the Crate
- Separation Anxiety
- Conclusion: Time to Crate Train Your Puppy!
Are you looking to start crate training your puppy but aren’t sure where to get started?
While many people view crates as restrictive, crate training creates a safe environment for your dog while teaching them responsibility and independence. Plus, dogs are naturally den animals, and a lot of the time, they enjoy being in small spaces, as they provide a sense of security. How do you start the crate training process? Check out this guide to learn about the top tips for crate training your puppy.
Select the Right Crate
Crate training your dog all begins with selecting the right crate. If the crate you choose is too large, your dog will have too much space to roam around, and they may feel free to pee in the corner of the crate. However, if the crate is too small, then your dog may feel claustrophobic. Here’s how you select the right crate:
Measure for Size
To get the right-size crate for your dog, have your pup stand on all fours and take a measurement from the base of their tail to the top of their nose. Then, have your dog sit with its bottom on the ground and measure from the top of its head to the floor to get the right height. Once you have these numbers, add two to four inches to each to figure out what crate size you should get.
Consider Your Puppy’s Age
Depending on your dog’s age and breed, they still may have a lot more growing left to do. Generally speaking, large breeds reach their full size at 14 months, while medium and small breeds reach their full size at 18 to 24 months. If your puppy is still growing, you may want to buy a crate that’s slightly larger so your puppy can grow into it.
Consider the Material
Dog crates come in a variety of materials, and it’s worth considering the different options. Here are the most popular options:
Get the Crate Ready for Your Dog
Once you’ve chosen a crate, it’s time to get the crate ready for your puppy. You want to make the crate a welcoming environment for your dog, so we recommend filling the crate with toys, water, and bedding. Also, carefully consider where you’re going to place the crate. During the first few days of crate training, you should keep the crate near you wherever you are in your home. This way, your puppy won’t feel lonely or isolated when hanging out in their crate. After a while, you can move the crate to a more permanent location, such as the living room. Eventually, your dog won’t need the crate at all during the day, so don’t worry too much about the crate taking up space.
Get Into the Right Mindset
Successful crate training all starts with the right mindset. Remember, crate training isn’t an overnight task. You can expect to spend a few weeks crate training your puppy.
Also, your puppy needs to see the crate as a positive environment and not a punishment. They also need to view it as a place for relaxing and not playing. For this reason, you should bring the crate out to your dog when they’re calm, as this will help them view the crate as a place where they can rest.
Introduce Your Puppy to the Crate
Treats are a great tool for introducing your puppy to the crate in a positive manner. Throughout the day, drop some yummy treats into your puppy’s crate. Start by dropping the treats right by the door, then move on to dropping them further into the crate. If your dog refuses to go all the way into the crate at first, don’t force him to enter. Eventually, your dog will feel more comfortable going further into the crate. If your dog loses interest in the treats, you can toss their favorite toys inside the crate instead.
When you introduce the crate to your dog, make sure you’re using a happy voice. If your voice is stern, your dog will have negative associations with the crate.
Make a Game of It
After you spend a few days tossing treats to your dog into the crate, it’s time to encourage them to move into the crate on their own. Do a few sessions where you toss the treat into the crate and, as you do, say “Get into bed!” After your dog has this down pat, say, “get into bed” first, and then once your puppy is in the crate, toss in the treat. If your puppy doesn’t get in the crate, wait for a bit. If they don’t budge, end the session.
Later, you can try the session again by throwing in the treat first and then waiting to give the treat until your puppy is in the crate. When your puppy finally goes into its crate on cue, make a big deal out of it and give it several treats. Do this a couple more times, then end the session.
Feed Your Puppy Meals in the Crate
Feeding your puppy meals in the crate can also help establish a positive association with it. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you toss treats into it, then place their food dish all the way to the back of the crate. If your puppy is still hesitant to get all the way into the crate, then place the food dish near the entrance. With each meal you serve them, place the food dish further and further into the crate.
Try Closing the Crate
When you’re first crate training your puppy, and they’re running into the crate to fetch treats, you should leave the crate open behind them. However, once your puppy has gotten used to the crate, it’s time to start closing the door behind them.
The next time you use the command “get in your bed,” close the gate behind your puppy. This time, you can feed them treats through the door. Next, walk around the crate after closing the door, and toss your puppy treats as you move around. After a minute or two, let your puppy out of the crate. After doing a few laps, it’s time to get your puppy used to longer stays in the crate.
Condition Your Puppy to Stay in the Crate for Longer Periods
Once your dog can enter the crate easily, eat meals in there, and stay in there for several minutes without showing signs of anxiety, you can start to confine it in the crate for short periods of time when you’re away from home.
Next time you have your dog enter the crate, close the gate behind them and have them sit in there for 5 to 10 minutes. Stay in the room with your dog, and then go to another room for a few minutes. When you return, sit quietly again for a short time, and then let your puppy out of the crate. Repeat this process several times a day for a few days, and gradually increase the time with each session. Once your puppy can sit quietly for 30 minutes, you can leave him crated for short periods when you leave the house. We recommend you start by leaving home for no more than an hour. Then, you can gradually increase the time to 4 hours or more in the crate.
Know What Pitfalls to Avoid
There are certain problems that many people run into when crate training their puppies. Here’s what you want to watch out for:
Too Much Time in the Crate
While a crate is a useful training tool, it shouldn’t be used as a solution for keeping your dog busy when you’re away. If your puppy is crated all day when you’re at work and then also crated all night, it’s spending too much time in the crate. Too much time in the crate can lead to anxiety, frustration, and health issues. Dogs thrive on exercise and open spaces, so if your puppy is younger than six months, don’t keep it in the crate for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell if your dog is whining because it’s in the crate or because it needs to use the bathroom. If your puppy is whining, say the command you use for your dog when it’s time to go outside. If they respond with excitement, then take them outside to use the bathroom. However, don’t turn it into a play session, as your dog will then assume they can whine to get outside of the crate and play.
A crate is not a remedy for separation anxiety. To quell separation anxiety, you can give your pup an article of clothing that smells like you when you leave the house. You can also use CBD for pets.
Time to Crate Train Your Puppy!
By following the tips above, your puppy will be crate trained in no time. For more tips on training your puppy, check out our Pet Education Centre.