Crate Training your Puppy

Puppy crate training - Cockapoo puppy

Crate training your puppy.  A crate can be a private room with a view. Ideal for travelling puppies or for those who just want a secure, quiet place to rest away from the children or visitors at home.  It’s the puppy’s own personal den where he can find comfort and solitude.  It makes boarding your puppy easier as they settle much better in a carers home in their crate than in the carer’s strange and unfamiliar kitchen.  The best way to introduce your puppy to a crate is gently – where you slowly introduce your puppy to the crate working up to longer periods and then eventually leaving your puppy in the crate by itself.  Below is some information on how to do this.

Crating Philosophy: Crate training uses a puppy’s natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog’s den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your puppy’s den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge during a thunderstorm.

  • The primary use for a crate is housetraining. Puppy’s don’t like to soil their dens.
  • The crate can limit access to the rest of the house while he learns other rules, like not to chew on furniture.
  • Crates are a safe way to transport your puppy in the car.
  • Crates can offer comfort for a nervous puppy when visitors arrive or children become too noisy.

Crating Caution:  A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a puppy can feel trapped and frustrated.

  • Never use the crate as a punishment. Your puppy will come to fear it and refuse to enter it.
  • Don’t leave your puppy in the crate for too long.  A puppy that’s crated day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious.
  • Never crate a puppy with a collar on as puppies can choke themselves to death.  It is a good idea to remove any collar or harness while the puppy is in the crate to prevent them being caught up on the bars of the crate.
  • If you are going to place a chew toy inside the crate, use safe toys only, nothing the dog or puppy can tear apart and choke on while you are not there.  Squeaky toys need to be monitored because the squeakers can be removed and swallowed.
  • Never crate your dog in a sunny place during hot weather – in full sunlight by the patio doors, conservatory or a small windowless utility.  Dogs and puppies can die of heat exhaustion.  Always choose a cool sheltered place for a crate.
  • Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long.
  • Crate your puppy only until the training period is completed. After that, it should be a place he/she goes voluntarily.
  • NEVER allow small children to climb into the crate with the puppy.  It is your puppy’s personal space, not your child’s space.  If a dog or puppy growls or snaps at a child climbing into their crate with them – it would be your fault

Selecting a Crate:  There are two types of crates available. Plastic (often called “flight kennels”) and collapsible, metal crates.  Crates come in different sizes and can be purchased at most pet shops or online. Your puppy’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. Choose a crate size that will accommodate your puppy’s adult size.

The Crate Training Process:  Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your puppy’s temperament.  It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training:

  1. The crate should always be associated with something pleasant.
  2. Training should take place in a series of small steps. Don’t go too fast.

Step 1: Introduce Your Dog to the Crate:  Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Open the door and let the puppy explore the crate at his/her leisure. Some puppies will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away.

Step 2: Feed Your Dog his Meals in the Crate:  After introducing your puppy to the crate, begin feeding him/her his regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate.

Step 3: Lengthen the Crating Periods: After your puppy is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him/her there for short time periods while you’re home.

Crate Your Dog when you Leave:  After your puppy can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him/her crated for short periods when you leave the house.

Is Crate Training Practical for all Dogs

An occasional puppy may not tolerate crate training, and may continue to show anxiety or even eliminate when confined. These puppies may adapt better to other types of confinement such as a puppy pen, small room, or barricaded area (e.g. using a child gate). Crates can be wonderful safe havens for dogs and puppies and most will grow to love spending time in their own private room, whether that is a crate, utility, puppy pen or behind their stairgate….

Isabelle Adams-Papé IMDT
Ringwood Dogs, Three Legged Cross on the Dorset, Hampshire and New Forest border.
Dog Training, Dog Day Care, Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking

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