So you just got a new puppy… Beyond the initial excitement, you’re probably wondering what next? You’ll want to start getting them used to a crate so that you can transport them and potty-train them. Or perhaps you have a dog and you’re wondering if it’s too late to start crate training now. It’s not easy to learn how to train your dog to use a crate though without the right information. With patience and a little bit of time, it can actually be a much smoother sailing journey than you expected.
Also Read: Why these dog crates are so popular
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Why Crate Training?
A lot of dog owners have crates in their home for their dogs, but a good number of owners don’t. If you’ve owned a dog, it’s entirely possible that you haven’t even thought of using crates before either. You might even think it looks like a punishment when someone puts their dog in the crate. It’s not, and it’s never meant to be punishment! Crate training actually has a lot of benefits that many people might not know about, including how helpful it is for potty-training, the fact that it helps you transport your dog, and that it acts as a safe space when your dog is feeling overwhelmed.
How to Crate Train
It’s not easy to feel like the master dog trainer when you’re running around with work, or school, or kids, or maybe all three and more! Just because it’s a daunting doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. We have some great information right here for the novice crate trainer that’ll make you feel like a master.
Pick a Big Enough Crate!
You would think this one might be obvious, but the crate does need to be big enough for your dog to move around properly. They should be able to stand, sit, and stretch out. It you buy a really large one for a puppy that will grow, maybe cordon off a section until they need it. Otherwise they might think they can go to the bathroom in one area and eat in the other. You need to make sure they know not to soil where they eat.
Location, Location, and… Entertainment?
It’s not just a real estate necessity, but an important aspect of crate training too. You aren’t punishing the dog when they’re in their crate, so don’t isolate them. Keep the crate in a consistent place and make sure it’s in a high traffic area where everyone can see and interact with the dog. A cover can be put over the crate to add a feeling of safety since they’ll often have a lot of eyes on them.
Keep some toys in the crate too! Making sure your dog feels comfortable can happen by giving them some of their favorite toys, as long as they can’t chew pieces off. Treats can be put in there too to help associate the crate with happy things.
Also Read: How these dog pens can help
The Training: Let’s Get Started!
You’ve picked out your crate, set up some blankets inside, and put it in the proper location. Now you’re ready to begin the training. When you’re just starting out, start casual. You’ve already got the toys in there and the door open, so let your dog check it out. They’ll soon enter and look around. Sometimes this can be helped along by putting them in a room with the crate.
Once that happens, get your dog comfortable in there for longer times. Put the food in the crate, all the way in so that your dog sits in there. If your dog is skittish at first, slowly move the food to the back of the crate over time. Always remember to praise when they go in and out!
Don’t close the door to trap the dog in there, but close it while they’re eating and open it as soon as they’re done. Ease them into it by keeping them in there for a tiny bit longer each time they eat. Try two minutes, then five, then seven, and so on. If they whine, let them out, but (and this is important), make sure they stop whining before letting them out. You don’t want to teach them that whining will lead to getting out.
Slowly keep your dog in there for longer amounts of time with their toys and food, and hang around outside here and there so they know they’re safe. Soon they’ll be able to even sleep in there comfortably! Just always remember to provide encouragement and not to reward negative behavior.
The Harrowing Night Hours
It’s actually a pretty good idea to start training so that your dog has a proper place at night. Try to train your dog prior to putting them into a crate at night though, or they might come to associate it with negative feelings. If they aren’t trained yet, try a cardboard box near you instead until they can sit in the crate alone.
Having a puppy is like having a baby sometimes. They can’t hold it for more than three hours maximum each night, and that’s where you come in. You’ll need to get up every few hours to let them outside for a few minutes, at least until they’re old enough to hold it until morning. Just don’t get them excited overnight or they’ll think it’s time to play!
Training your dog can definitely take time. Honestly it depends on your dog and how comfortable they feel, and how long it takes for them to relax for half an hour in the crate. It takes at least three months though before you can really start leaving the house for significant periods of time. Also remember to let your dog out every hour initially to pee, and increase the time as your pup ages. Accidents happen, but it’ll defeat the purpose if they start thinking they can pee in their crate.
When you’re crate training your dogs, there are certain things that will only make your dog dread going in there because you’ve made it feel like a punishment. Firstly, never close the door of a crate if your dog isn’t relaxed. Don’t ever push your dog into the create either. If you do things like this, it’ll seem like a punishment when it’s not meant to be. Even when your puppy is older, never close the door if they aren’t comfortable.
Should I Crate Train My Puppy?
Really that’s up to you, but there aren’t really any reasons not to. With puppies, crate training immediately will teach bladder control and help them feel safe in a new environment. Make them feel like the crate is their home and keep an eye on them when they’re in there. Even keep a “puppy journal” to figure out when they go to the bathroom so they don’t soil the bedding. Either way, make sure to praise your puppy for being good, and clean up any accidents efficiently.
You’ve just got a new dog, and you’re probably wondering how to crate train your dog, and why you might even want to. Well, while it might seem like you need to be a dog master to train one, you really don’t have to be. It only takes a little time, a little patience, and a lot of love, before you’ve got a happy and safe dog!