Crate training your dog or puppy is a really useful and helpful way to manage your dog’s behaviour. The crate is very much your dog’s space – their den, their bedroom, a place where they feel safe and find refuge. When crate training a puppy, the most important thing to remember is make it a positive experience, and never a punishment.
How to crate train a puppy
If you’re planning to crate train your dog, it’s best to start as young as possible. Like with most things, crate training a puppy is far easier than with an older dog as the crate becomes simply part of their life from the beginning. Crate training your puppy is also a great way to help with toilet training, as dogs will rarely “go” where they sleep.
You need to make sure you pick the right size crate for your dog. It needs to be small enough that it feels like your puppy’s bed area, and cozy enough to feel like den space (Just remember how fast puppies can grow, so make sure you pick one that they won’t outgrow when they get bigger). To start with, you just want their bed, toys and some puppy pads (or newspaper) inside the crate, making sure food and water bowls are outside.
How long should I leave my puppy in the crate?
You shouldn’t leave your puppy in the crate for long periods of time, especially not at first. Instead you need to gradually introduce time in the crate to your puppy, helping to build a positive association with spending time there. If they cry to be let out, try to ignore this (as hard as it will be sometimes) and don’t reward them with fuss or hugs when they come out – it needs to be seen as no big deal to be in, and come out of, their crate. That said, it’s best to leave the door open at first, only starting to close it when they’re starting to feel comfortable in the crate and won’t see having the door closed as a problem.
Where should I put my puppy’s crate?
Location is key when crate training a puppy. Ideally, it should be in a quiet area of the house with low levels of “traffic” and little external stimulation to distract your puppy from relaxing in their crate. It often helps to cover the sides and top with blankets or rugs to make it a more den-like setting and a space they want to spend time in. This can also help you puppy see it as their bed or bedroom, and can help with toilet training – going out before bed, and knowing to get up and go in the morning. If you have children, it’s important to teach them that the crate is the dog’s space and a do-not-disturb area.
Travelling with your dog’s crate
Another bonus that comes from crate training your dog is how much it can help them to travel. It makes for a safe and familiar space for your dog when you go on holiday, especially if going on a longer car journey. And when you reach your destination it becomes a home away from home for your dog, helping them to settle into the unfamiliar surroundings much more easily.
Related blog – Long journeys with your dog