Crate train your puppy at home by following these simple steps
The Basics of Crate Training
Crate training your puppy has a number of benefits. It can build up your dog's confidence and independence, allow them access to a safe and quiet space to rest, and can come in handy with grooming or vet visits. Here's what you need to know when carte training your puppy:
Work On Crate Desensitization
Crate desensitization is the process of teaching your puppy to be comfortable in their crate by building a positive association with it. To start, have your puppy repeatedly go in and out of the crate, working up to shutting the door for short periods and building up to you walking away with the door closed.
Reward your puppy for being calm during each step of this process. Go slow! Start with just a few seconds, then a few minutes - eventually working your way up to 10-15 minutes, half an hour, and longer.
Associate A Name With The Crate
Once your puppy is going into their crate willingly, and happily staying put for a while, begin adding in a verbal cue when crating them. For example, every time the puppy goes all the way into the crate, say "kennel up" or "crate" so they begin to associate the verbal command with the action.
Give Your Puppy Activities In The Crate
Giving your puppy stimulating activities to do inside the crate will help them associate the area with calmness and positivity. This will build their independence and coping skills for when you're away.
Chewing and licking activities are our favorites (i.e. frozen peanut butter inside a lick toy).
Only Let Your Puppy Out When They're Calm
Only let the puppy out of the crate when they are calm and quiet, never when they're frantic, loud, or begging. Whining is normal, especially at first, but we want to let your puppy learn how to self-soothe and relax in the crate. Chews and licking items are helpful. Even a calming music playlist can help your dog! Try this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYSDCW5a-J4
Show Your Puppy The Crate Is A Good Place To Be
Show your puppy that the crate is a good place to be by rewarding them with lots of high-value treats, toys, and praise. Don't let the crate simply become the place your puppy goes when you leave, put them in there when you're home as well. Perhaps let them eat in the crate, do enrichment activities, or play games like tossing in toys to be retrieved.
Try a crate cover to may make the space feel more like a cozy den.
Again, crate training your puppy is something to take slow. Having patience and compassion for your puppy during the crate training process goes a long way! Desensitizing your puppy, creating a cue for the crate, and making it fun with toys, food, and games will turn the crate into one of your puppy's favorite places!
Common Crate Training Questions (answered)
What if my puppy cries past 10-15 minutes or starts to cry after they've settled down for a while?
If your puppy is crying past 10-15 minutes after being put into the crate, consider if all of their needs have been met. Did they go to the bathroom before going into the crate? Have they had enough exercise? Have they eaten? If those one of those needs haven't been met, wait for a break in the whining (again, we want to let them out when they are calm) and then provide for that need.
Also, consider loneliness. Your puppy may not be used to being by themselves. Offering white noise, a heartbeat toy, calming music, or even a securely blanket to help them feel more secure in the crate.
How long can my puppy stay in the crate?
This depends. The age of your puppy is crucial to consider when crating them. They can only hold their bathroom needs for an hour of every month old they are (2 months, 2 hours). Consider this when crating your puppy to avoid any accidents in the crate.
As they get older and into adulthood, your dog should not be left in the crate any longer than 4 hours. Your dog should have access to food, water, and ability play or to go to the bathroom throughout the day.
When is it okay to crate my puppy?
You can crate your puppy for naps throughout the day, when you're not home, or able to keep your eye on them. They provides them plenty of rest and keeps them out of trouble (such as going potty in the house, or getting into unsafe items).
Work With A Trainer
If you'd like to dive deeper into crate training, or other puppy training topics, consider working with a certified dog trainer! Use the link below to see if Busy Dog serves your area and book a free evaluation with your local trainer.