A few days ago, we had discussed the basics of buying a good crate for your puppy. Crate training should ideally be done at an early age. After all; it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to teach an old dog new tricks. So follow these steps to learn how to crate train your puppy so you can get him comfortable in his own little space as soon as possible.
Crate Training Basics
Many people confuse between crate training and potty training. While crate training is an important part of house-training your pet, you must never allow the pet to go potty inside the crate. Some pet owners invest in an X-pen placed next to the crate so that the dog can go potty in it. A crate trained dog will spend large part of the day inside his crate. So make sure to buy the right sized crate for your puppy. If you want to use the same crate as he grows older, you will need to use barriers to disallow the dog from using the extra space for potty.
Get him to love it
The basic aim of crate training is to get your puppy to love the crate. It is to become his home or a den so he should feel comfortable in it. A crate should never be used for punishment.
Make it comfortable
Place a comfortable blanket or bedding inside the crate. If you are using a wire crate, cover the sides with a blanket so that the puppy feels safe, comfortable and secure in it. In case your puppy has come from his litter or from a rescue home, include some toys, blankets or peanut-butter filled kong toys inside the crate. A soothing ticking clock and a hot water bottle covered in some old towels or blankets can help replace his mother’s heartbeat and warmth to some extent.
Place the crate in a comfortable area
Locate the crate in an area that is not directly in the line of a heating or air conditioning vent. Also avoid placing the crate in the hot sun. In the beginning, you can place the crate in your bedroom next to your bed. However, many pet owners prefer not to do that. So choose a room to place the crate in.
Allow your puppy to explore the crate. Place some treats inside so that he feels tempted inside. It is a good idea to conduct this crate training session before meals so that your puppy is hungry enough to go inside. Keep plenty of treats on hand. Toss a few inside the crate. If puppy looks at you and then at the treats, say “good”. To build trust in the early stages of crate training, leave the door of the crate open. Make sure the door does not clang shut which could scare the little one.
Teach him words to associate with his crate
Your puppy should associate his crate with a comfortable and cozy naptime. Use words like “kennel time” or “bed time” so that your puppy will associate it is time to go in the crate.
Crate training at night time
There is no fixed time that your puppy will take to crate train- it varies from puppy to puppy. However, you have to be consistent. Use the same crate training routine every evening so that you can crate train him at night fast.
Have him potty before settling in for the night
Puppies have small bladders and most cannot hold it in for more than 6 hours. If you do not want him waking up and crying at night, make sure you have him go potty after his final meal in the evening and once again just prior to settling in for bed. In order to crate train a dog for potty training, avoid feeding solids or liquids 2-3 hours before settling the puppy for the night.
Have him tired out
A tired puppy is a sleepy puppy. Play with him for an hour then wind down. Firmly state it is “kennel time”. Make sure you give him the impression that the crate is his quiet space and not a jail. Let him understand through consistent crate training that night time is for settling down and not for playing. Puppies eventually learn that humans are “no fun” at night and will settle in sooner only if you are consistent with this schedule.
Stay in the room for a bit
Once the puppy is inside the crate, close the door and say good night. You may switch off the light but let the puppy know you are still in the room. Stay silent except to praise or reward the dog. The next stage of crate training a puppy is closing the crate door and leaving the room. Some dogs accept this, but others may take longer to do so. Many puppies could even take weeks to accept this protocol. Start by leaving the room for short periods (you can go to the adjacent room and make noises he can hear) and then gradually increase the duration of leaving. Each time he remains silent, come back and feed him treats inside the crate. Make sure you re-enter the room only when he is silent as re-entry when he whines or cries will encourage that behavior.
Do not open the crate if he barks or whines
Unless you want him to bark or cry all night, avoid opening the crate. If your dog remains silent, reward him with a few treats. Whining at night does not indicate that he has to go potty (as long as you have had him pottied before settling in). However, note that he will want to go potty as soon as he is out of the crate.
What to expect
Most dogs come to love their crate and would want to go in it from time to time. When they do, allow them. A crate is your dog’s personal space, a sanctuary – a room he can call his own. Crate training, as stated before is easier at a younger age. While you can crate train an older dog, it may take longer. We hope these basic crate training tips help you.