Adopting a new puppy to your family can bring with it a lot of fun, excitement, and joy. Puppy ownership also come with responsibility, including understanding how to crate train a puppy. Creating a safe space for your new friend is important to establish a predictable pattern of expectations.
The choice of crate, where to place it, creating a plan for the training, and timeline are all important factors when bringing a new puppy home. Knowing what to expect during crate training can help both you and your new, sweet friend to understand the best way to start this process.
Guide to Crate Training a Puppy
Puppies want to feel safe and comfortable in their new home. Having a space of comfort allows the puppy a place they will trust. A crate can be used for transportation, a safe space for daytime when the family is at work, and a place to relax that they know is their own. Crate training allows for your new family member to have a space that is just for them.
Establishing this safe place at the onset of puppy ownership can be a fantastic start to ensuring your new friend will transition into your home.
Finding the Right Crate
When choosing a crate for your new puppy, make sure to remember that there needs to be adequate room for them to turn around and lie down, but not so much room that they do not feel secure or safe.
Most crates are made of plastic or heavy grade wire/mesh, It is important to know how big your puppy may get to be sure you start with the right crate. Crates made of wood can also be used, but be aware that dogs chew, and a wood crate can easily become damaged if your puppy chews a hole through the side.
Explore the different options available for animal crates such as multiple doors, ease of transportation, and break down, along with thinking about the bottom of the crate. Having a crate that has a removable tray or inserts in the bottom can make clean up of accidents a bit easier.
Whatever options you choose – and there are many options – find the crate that fits into your space, your life, and the plans for training that you want to instill in your puppy.
How Long Does it Take to Crate Train a Puppy?
Puppy crate training is a simple process, but that does not mean that it is easy. Crate training has two main goals: to create a safe, positive space and to begin to train your puppy to understand boundaries and rules.
Crate training time can take a few days or a few weeks. Training time depends on your puppy’s previous experience with crates, personality, and consistency. The more consistent you are with the training process, the easier it will be in the long run. Your new friend needs to learn to trust their space and when you create a trusting space, they will settle in and love it!
How to Start the Crate Training Process
When you bring the crate home, place it in a space that the family spends time in each day. The crate space should be in a room that the puppy knows is safe. For a puppy that has not been exposed to a crate, having the crate in a space that is comfortable will begin the process. Leaving the door open will create a familiarity with the crate.
Once the crate is set up, open, and in a family room, add familiar blankets and toys. Let your puppy explore the crate, going in and out at will, to allow them time to learn that the crate is a great place to hang out! The goal is to make the crate comfortable and a safe space.
One of the most important parts of the crate training process is to be sure that the crate is always used as a positive place. Using toys and blankets in the crate, serving meals in the crate, and playing near the crate will make the path to consistent crate use an easy one. A warm inviting space to relax will be the first step to creating a confident companion.
A common mistake that new puppy owners can make is to use the crate as punishment. Do not punish a puppy by yelling at them, shoving them in a crate, or making it a scary option. The crate should be a place of safety, not for punishment.
Keep in mind that when a puppy makes mistakes it is because they are learning new things every day, not because they are naughty. Reinforcing achievements, such as going in the crate without a prompt, can pave the way for your puppy to understand the rules in their new home.
Step by Step Process – An Outline For Success
- Once you have your crate set up in a familiar room, with both toys and blankets, spend time in the room with the puppy. Let the puppy walk in and out, throwing toys and other fun items inside so that they learn that the crate is safe.
- Another option is to feed your puppy in the crate – this is useful if your dog seems worried or nervous about entering a closed space. By feeding them with the door open, and the bowl near the back end of the crate, they will begin to correlate the crate with positive experiences.
- Once the puppy has learned to go in and out of the crate, start crating the puppy for short periods of time. Be sure to leave the room and not have people sitting outside of the crate engaging with the puppy.
- The goal is to allow them to relax, rest and trust that you will come back and let them out. Starting with short periods of time, such as 30 minutes, and working up to more time will allow them to start to understand that the crate is a great space.
- A key ingredient in the success of crate training is to come up with a word or short phrase to use every time the puppy goes into the crate. If consistent with your instruction – such as “kennel up” – your puppy will learn to go into their crate when you ask, without having to move them in yourself. Any phrase or gesture can be used, it is all about consistency.
- If you have been successful with short times in the crate, you are ready for longer periods of time. Many people choose to use the crate when they are at work, out for the evening, and times when it could be beneficial to have the puppy in their own space, such as having a large gathering or cleaning the house. Puppies need rest and have their own safe place will make it easier for them to learn.
- Once the puppy understands that the crate is a good thing, you should be able to use verbal instruction to get them to go inside without too much prompting.
Quick tip about crate time – When you take the puppy out of the crate, immediately take them outside to use the bathroom. This practice can help them to learn that the crate is not a potty spot and that when coming out of the crate, going outside can be expected. This will help to reinforce both potty training and crate training!
Pitfalls, Problems, and Whining
Although crate training can be set up in a way that should be successful, it is not always easy. Puppies may bark, whine, destroy items in the crate or potty in the space. Being patient is the key – being consistent is also as important. Expect that there will be times at the beginning of this process that your puppy barks, whines and creates a ruckus because they are just learning about what to expect.
Crate training should be a positive experience, but it is understandable if the process is challenging. Give yourself and your puppy time to learn, and keep a written log of crate time, planning, and successful times. You may be doing better than you think and having a written log of success times can be exciting to see.
If your puppy whines, and you think they may need to go outside, go to the crate, and take them outside. This should not be time to play, but just to go to the bathroom. Once done, bring the puppy back and put them back in their crate for the time that you planned.
Leave the space again and let them whine. It will be tough to listen to, but if you cave in and get them out, you have just taught the puppy that if they whine long enough you will let them out.
Quick tip about crate time – you can cover the crate with a blanket to help reduce visual distractions. Make sure that it will not get too warm with the blanket over the crate.
Consistency is going to be the key to the process. But even if you are consistent, some dogs really struggle with the crate training process. If you feel that you have tried all the tips and tricks that are available and you are still not feeling that the crate training is going well, reach out to your veterinarian or a dog training specialist.
They may have additional tips and ideas for you to work through those tough times and different ideas that may be new for your plan.
Crate training for puppies is an important and valuable training tool that can give you an added resource when creating a new home for your dog. By starting off with a consistent message and process, crate training will give you and your puppy a place that ensures that they will be safe and secure and allow you to leave your home without worry that your new friend will get into mischief while you are not home.
Pets bring tremendous joy to our lives – being a responsible pet owner means spending time training them and showing them how to be part of the family. Your puppy will be part of your life for many years with the right guidance.
Using a crate can be a fantastic way to reduce the stress of new puppy ownership, for more expert advice visit https://dogstruggles.com/.