Crate Training Success for Your Puppy

puppy crate trainingTeaching your puppy correctly about a crate is a very important tool for not only housebreaking, but for rearing of your puppy as well.  The crate is not a cage to the dog when introduced correctly, rather it becomes a safe haven for them and a humane and gentle way to keep your puppy safe and out of trouble.

When you are ready to start crate training it is important to keep two key concepts, crate training needs to always be associated with something pleasant and you need to take a series of small steps when crate training your puppy.  Introducing the crate is the first step and it is important at this point to remember it could take days and even weeks for your dog to become comfortable with going into their crate.  You can put a bed or blanket into it to make it more interesting, but not toys and treats because we will use those to introduce the crate and entice the puppy to go into the crate.

Start by giving your puppy a treat every time he interacts with the crate.  If your puppy is really timid, treat for showing interest in the crate.  As your dog becomes comfortable on the outside of the crate you can start putting a treat inside the crate.  Go slow until you can toss the treat into the crate and the puppy will go get it.  If the puppy doesn’t seem interested or cannot see the treats, try a toy instead.  Remember to use tiny pieces of treats and to work with the puppy when they are hungry and awake and keep sessions short and upbeat.  You should start using your cue word such as Kennel or Crate when you toss the toy or treat so the dog associates going into the crate with the cue.

Once your puppy is happily going into the crate after a toy or treat, start putting a chew or treat that takes more time for the puppy to finish.  During that time you will start closing the door.  Start with simply shutting and immediately opening it and extend the time it is closed slowly.  You don’t want your puppy to panic. You can then start feeding your puppy in the crate and extend the time further that the door is left closed.

In the beginning you want to open the door as soon as the puppy is done eating.  As the dog progresses you will start leaving the door closed longer and longer after they finish.  Be sure they have toys and a bed so they can have something to do while they are in the crate.  If your puppy cries then you went too far too fast.  Do not let him out while he is crying, but once he stops let him out immediately and back up in your training to a point he is comfortable with.  You are not leaving the room at this point.

Once your puppy is fine eating in the crate and staying inside for 10 minutes you can start leaving the room. Start back with a short time making sure you let him out before he starts crying.  If he does cry you need to wait until he quits before letting him out and note you waited too long.  Note that when you let him out of the crate you don’t want to make a big deal either.  You want the crate time to be the reward time not the getting out time.

Some other important items to keep in mind is to be weaning your puppy off the treats for going into the crate and to send him into the crate at other times then just meals or when you are gone.  When leaving your puppy in the crate at other times besides meals, be sure you leave toys for them to play with and maybe a kong with treats inside to help keep them busy.

If at anytime your puppy soils the bedding, be sure to remove the bedding from the crate completely.  If they can smell it they will continue to soil it.  Also, be sure in the future that your puppy has gone potty before the training session and do not leave them in the crate longer than a couple hours when your puppy is comfortable with being locked into the crate.  Their bladders are not as big as a dog’s and they need frequent trips out to eliminate.

If you have helpful hints on making crate training a success we would love to hear them.  Just scroll down and leave your comments in the comments area.