Crate Training Your Puppy
Teaching your puppy how to rest peacefully in a confined space is essential for those pet parents who work frequently or plan on traveling with their pet. Crate training requires persistence and patience; if you give up because of your pup’s whining, you’re only reinforcing their bad behavior. Unlike other types of dog training, crate training can only be taught by the pet parent, not in the doggy classroom.
Choosing a Crate
There are many types of crates to choose from; most pet supply stores carry them next to the doggy beds. When selecting one, keep in mind your dog’s size – most puppies are small, but choose a crate that can your pet can grow into and become comfortable with. Here are the most common crates and kennels and their uses:
- Wire. The walls and roof of these crates are constructed of wire, giving the dog complete visibility of its surroundings; this can be soothing for some puppies. The bottom of the crate is usually a removable tray that can be easily cleaned or padded with a dog bed. Wire kennels are typically collapsible as well.
Good for travel? Some cars. Good for home use? Yes.
- Plastic. This type of pet carrier is completely built of plastic, with a wire door and “windows” on the walls. Small and medium sized crates have handles, while larger ones are often wheeled for easy transport. If you travel a lot with your pet, crate training them in a carrier can help them see it as a second home. The sides of the carrier are detachable for easy cleaning.
Good for travel? Yes. Good for home use? Somewhat.
- Soft-sided. Probably the most comfortable crate, this type is made of metal frame covered by a nylon or weather-resistant fabric with mesh sides and top for breathability. Doors can be zippered open or shut, and “windows” often have shades that can be fastened down. This crate is a good option for the outdoorsy pet parent or those who car travel.
Good for travel? Only cars. Good for home use? Yes, especially outdoors.
Preparing the Crate
It’s important to make the kennel look appealing to your puppy; furnish it with a comfortable bed or blankets and include toys. For plastic carriers, unfasten the top half; for wire and soft-sided crates, secure all doors so they stay open. This can make the kennel seem less confining to your puppy – after it seems comfortable with the crate, gradually recover the carrier and close all but one entrance. Place the crate in an area you spend a lot of time in, to encourage the puppy to relax in it near you when you’re home.
Steps to Success
- Several times a day, place small treats or bits of food inside the kennel to tempt your dog into the space. This allows your puppy to associate positive things with the crate.
- Whenever you see your puppy resting in the crate, praise and pet them. Never attempt to force your pet into the crate, as this can cause them to fear it.
- After your pet seems comfortable in the crate, close them inside, but remain within sight. Your puppy will be less afraid of being alone.
- If your pet isn’t whining excessively, leave the room with your dog closed in the crate. Do this gradually until your puppy seems at home in the crate, returning every hour or so to praise. Eventually you can leave the house; make sure to give plenty of love to your puppy when you return!
Before confining your puppy to their crate for more than two hours, ensure that they go to the bathroom to prevent accidents. Keep in mind that dogs younger than four months have very little bladder control, so try not to keep them crated for longer than two to three hours.
Crate training your dog can have numerous benefits – you don’t have to worry about your puppy destroying your house while you’re gone, for one. Most puppies come to enjoy time in their crates, or at the very least tolerate it. Try not to reward crying or whining, but don’t make your puppy feel trapped. With patience, crate training can be achieved in a matter of weeks.