Crate training is an essential part of housebreaking your puppy. There are times when you need to leave the house and your puppy will need to be safely locked in a crate. A bored dog can destroy many things, if they are left to roam your house. Depending on where you live and your yard setup, it is possible to leave your puppy outside, but again things can happen. With a young puppy, it is a good idea to teach that the crate is not the enemy.
Putting your puppy in the crate when he/she doesn’t want to go will make your puppy feel like the crate is a punishment. But, what can you do? You need to leave and you cannot allow your puppy to be left out in the house.
It is all in how you start crate training that will determine whether your puppy sees the crate as his enemy.
Introducing the Crate
The first time your puppy meets his/her crate, you are not going to force your puppy inside. You are also not going to close the door. You need to control this first meeting, without rewards.
- Place your puppy in a room for a short time or let your puppy run around outside, if that is an option.
- Put the crate in the room it will always be in.
- Set the crate down with the door open.
- Let your puppy out from the area they are currently being kept.
- Your dog is going to be curious about the new item in your home.
- Let your dog sniff the outside.
- When your dog is brave enough, let your dog stick its head inside.
- You are going to be “ignoring” the inspection.
- If your dog goes all the way in the crate, do not shut the door.
- Praise your dog for going inside by saying “good puppy or good dog.”
Your soft words, and their kind tone will show your dog that they did some- thing good. You don’t want to stand over your puppy urging him/her to inspect the crate. Instead, you are going to act like nothing is amiss or new. Only when your puppy goes all the way in, are you going to acknowledge the feat.
Making the Crate Home
After the initial inspection, your puppy is not ready to be locked up in the crate. However, they know it is an object that will not cause harm.
- Later, after your puppy is done with the inspection, it is time to make the crate at home.
- Place your puppy’s favorite blanket inside.
- Add a toy they love.
- Put a water container inside.
When your puppy is up from a nap or investigating around the house again, your puppy will naturally find the crate. With their scent in the crate, they will want to go in and inspect the area.
You are still not going to lock the door. However, you will praise your puppy if he/she lays down inside. You want your puppy to know it is good for him/her to be inside, so praise without treats is good.
Ten Minute Test
When your puppy is in the crate, playing, napping, or simply relaxed, close the door. Just close the door for a few minutes up to ten minutes based on your pup- py’s comfort level.
Your puppy may notice right away that the door is closed. If your puppy begins to bark or whine, ignore the behavior. Wait until your puppy has quieted down. When your puppy has been quiet for at least a minute, open the door, play with your puppy, and show her/him that there is nothing wrong with being in the crate.
The only time you need to pay attention to your puppy when they are locked in- side the crate, is if you feel your puppy needs a potty break. You will open the door, take your puppy to their relief spot, and let the business occur.
Your puppy needs to feel comfortable in the crate, but also realize it is not a place to go to the bathroom. You can usually tell easier, with male dogs, if they need to go to the bathroom. However, you can also watch the behavior in the eyes and body language to determine if you need to let your puppy out for a bathroom break. It is also based on the last time they relieved themselves compared to their age.
Treats and Crate Training
By going slowly with the training and letting your puppy explore the crate, you should not have to bribe your puppy with treats. Treats can become a habit, where your puppy is unwilling to go inside, unless they are rewarded with food. If you do use treats, make sure you use them occasionally, instead of all the time. You want to use words and affectionate touches to show your dog being in the crate is okay.
You never want to use the crate for punishment. You also never want to yell and request your puppy get in the crate, when you are angry. Negative actions quickly become something your puppy fears. It can also make your puppy quickly learn to fear the crate, even though in the past it was a place to take a nap.
For people who work eight hours a day, you will want to remove anything that can get soiled and ruined or use puppy pads to keep your puppy happy. Accidents can happen in the crate depending on how often you feed your dog and how long they are locked up.
If an accident does occur, never punish your puppy. Instead, try to adapt your lifestyle to limit these accidents. Encourage your puppy to go to the bathroom before you lock him/her up. Also, only leave your puppy with water and not food to keep any defecation issues to a minimum. As soon as you arrive home, let your puppy outside, so they can relieve themselves.
Do not yell or punish your dog for a crate accident. Unless, it was an urgent need to go, your dog would not have soiled the crate. Dogs do not like to soil the areas where they sleep.
Use the word crate. Each time your puppy goes into the crate, so “crate” and point to it. Praise your puppy for going into the crate after they follow your words.