It might seem cruel to confine a dog to a metal crate. However, crates make puppies feel safe and secure as they mimic the dog’s natural den habitat. Crate training your puppy is an excellent idea, especially if you want your dog to sleep in the crate at night or you plan to be out of the house for most of the day. This protects your property by keeping your puppy from destroying your house while you are unable to supervise your puppy. It’s also a way for your new puppy to feel safe. While there might be some whimpering and resistance the first time you confine your pup to a crate, the training will work quickly and your dog will become accustomed to the security of the crate.
Buying a Crate
Crates come in a number of different sizes, and you can find crates that are metal, plastic, and even fabric. When shopping for a crate, look for crates just large enough for your puppy to stand and turn around in. If your puppy will soon grow too large for a crate, look for larger crates that include a crate divider. This way, you can use the crate divider to block off half the crate until your puppy grows large enough to fill the crate space, and you avoid the expense of buying multiple crates. If you?re unsure about what kind to buy, consider renting one from an animal shelter. This would work especially well for a puppy that has yet to grow.
Put the crate in your bedroom at night if your dog has separation anxiety. Many people also find that placing an article of clothing or an old towel inside the crate is a good idea; the dog will be comforted by your scent.
Crate Training Steps
Start by putting the crate in a familiar and busy area, such as the kitchen or living room. Place a cozy towel, blanket, or toy inside and leave the door open. Most puppies will follow their natural curiosity and begin to investigate. If your puppy doesn?t, play or talk to him by the crate. When he?s used to the crate being there, toss a few treats inside the door, then further inside. If he still doesn?t go in, take a break and try again later. Keep throwing treats inside until he goes inside. Remain patient. This can be a quick process, or it can take a few days.
When the puppy is comfortable with the crate, start putting his regular food close-by. This will increase the good association he has with the crate. As soon as he easily goes inside, place his meals inside. For each feeding, move the food further inside and toward the back.
As soon as the puppy is relaxed with eating inside the crate, shut the crate door while he is eating. Open the door immediately when he is finished. Then start leaving the door shut for longer periods, until he?s comfortable staying inside for about 15 minutes. Let him out if he starts to fuss and whine. You may have rushed him. Start over by keeping him inside the crate for a shorter time.
Once your puppy is used to eating inside the crate, it?s time for him to get used to remaining inside for longer non-eating periods in your presence. Go to the crate and have a treat in your hand. Pick a cue word, such as ?crate,? ?kennel,? or ?inside? and point at the inside with the treat. When he goes into the crate, let him have the treat, praise him enthusiastically, and shut the crate door.
Remain quietly nearby for a few minutes before going to another part of the house. You might hear barking or whining, and that’s okay. Come back into the room after about 10 minutes and sit next to the crate again. Then, let the puppy out. Keep repeating this until you are able to leave the room without your puppy barking.
When you and your puppy get to the point that entering the crate is not a struggle and you can be in another room for half an hour without any barking or begging, you can probably leave the house and safely keep your puppy in the crate. Try not to be gone too long. Puppies don’t have the bladder strength of older dogs, and they will need to go outside every few hours. If you are away all day long, have a dog sitter take your puppy out every few hours.
Use the crate at night as well. Keep the crate in your bedroom or close by, because the dog may need to go out during the night, and you’ll want to hear the warning signs.
One thing you should never do is use the crate as a punishment. Don’t put your puppy in there as a retaliation for misbehaving, barking, or biting. Crate training requires a feeling of comfort and security for your pup.
All dogs are different. You might have a puppy who loves the crate, or you might have a puppy who needs constant treats as bribes to get into the crate. If your puppy suffers from separation anxiety when crated, try having a specially favorite toy or treat that you use just for that purpose. If he receives this toy only when inside the crate, he might start looking forward to it!