In my previous blog post, I discussed why you should conduct puppy crate training? If you want to know the exact steps of crate training and how to crate train your dog, you have come to the right place. Keep on reading to learn how to easily do puppy crate training.
Before I get into the details of the puppy crate training process, you need to understand why you should crate train your dog in the first place and how puppy crate training can help.
Importance of puppy crate training
Puppy crate training is a crucial part of the dog training process. The crate is your dog’s personal space. Dogs are descendants of wolves. Wolves preferred to live in dens. Dens were dark compact places that acted as a sleeping location for the wolf. Dog crates work similarly. A dog crate can serve as your dog’s sleeping place. Dogs are naturally inclined not to soil their sleeping locations. Therefore, crate training can help in the housetraining process since your dog does not want to do his business in the crate.
Advantages of puppy crate training
There are many benefits of puppy crate training. Even though it may seem like a confined space or enclosure to you, it can become your dog’s favorite place to hang out in the house if put to use in the right manner. Here are some advantages of puppy crate training:
Provides your dog a space that he can call his own.
We all need a space that we call our own. The crate can be your dog’s place where he can go when he is tired, upset, frightened, or simply wants to relax and take a nap.
Beneficial for senior dogs
Suppose your dog belongs to the advanced stages. In that case, he will be spending more time resting and relaxing than playing and engaging in strenuous activities. When your dog wants to relax, he can go into the crate. Alternatively, if you have a new puppy in the house, your older pup may need some time out and can use the crate to get away from the puppy.
Beneficial for rescue dogs
If you have a rescue dog, having him crate trained will also reduce anxiety and help him adjust to the new environment quicker. The dog will have a space that he will not have to defend from others. For rescues, this can be a huge relief.
Your dog is recovering from surgery.
After surgery, if your dog moves a lot, it can tear up the stitches. Therefore, your dog’s movement needs to be confined during post-surgery dog care. Therefore, keeping your dog in the crate is a good option.
As I have mentioned before, puppies do not soil the place where they sleep. Once your puppy recognizes the dog crate as a sleeping place, he will refrain from peeing or pooping in the crate. This will help you quickly get the puppy housetrained and keep the in-home accidents to a minimum.
What will you need to begin the process of puppy crate training?
If you want the crate to be a happy place for your dog, you will need time, effort, and patience. You should start the process by finding the correct type of crate for your pup.
Finding the right crate
When you start researching dog crates, you will notice that there are various options available in the market. However, you must pick a crate that will be perfect for your dog. Choosing the correct type of crate will be dependent on two factors:
The type of crate
The type of crate can be divided into two categories: wire crates or hard plastic airline-type crates. Most dogs do not have a preference for either wire or plastic-type crates. They can adjust to both. However, the advantage of the wire-type crate is that it can easily be customized depending on the needs of your pup, as they come with a divider. Therefore, you can buy a large-sized crate for your puppy and use the partition to keep the area constrained. As and when your dog grows, you can keep expanding the region depending on your dog’s needs.
Size of the crate
How do you determine which sized crate is the best option for your pup? Most dog guardians would prefer to go for a large crate to accommodate the dog even when he is a full-sized adult. However, the crate should only have enough space so that your dog can easily stand up, lie down comfortably and turn around. You do not want extra space to be in the crate. Therefore, you should go for crates that have dividers available. This way, you can keep customizing the space inside the crate so that your dog has ample space but not extra space. This way, the crate will grow with your puppy.
Other supplies that you will need for puppy crate training
Apart from the crate, a few accessories will be required for successful puppy crate training. These will be:
Whether a senior dog or a puppy who is being crate trained, make sure that you have bedding that will allow your dog to be comfortable inside the crate. You do not want your dog to sleep on the uncomfortable metal floor of the crate. If your dog is in the housetraining stages, it would be advisable to avoid going for the extra plush dog beds. The extra cushioning present in these beds might easily absorb the urine, and it will be difficult to tell if the puppy had an accident in the house.
If your puppy has a habit of chewing up and destroying bedding, you should avoid plush beds. Go for a simple mattress-type bed for your puppy during the initial house training stages. Alternatively, you can stack up a few blankets if you are worried about the bedding going bad due to repeated urination episodes.
Whatever dog training you are conducting, whether it is house training, off-leash training, recall commands, puppy crate training, training your dog to sit, etc., you will need treats. No dog training process can be successful without the availability of positive reinforcements. When your dog gets rewarded for good behavior, your pup will likely be inclined to repeat that behavior more often.
A safe space is not very inviting for your pup unless it contains some dog toys. Toys have a crucial role in dog development. They can also be beneficial in the process of puppy crate training. Having the toys in the crate make it much more inviting than otherwise. Toys can also keep your dog engaged when spending time alone in the crate.
If you are worried about your pup destroying the store-bought toys, you can always make some homemade dog toys for your pup to enjoy. Before offering the toy to the pup, check its durability. You do not want to give your pup a toy that can easily break, dislodge and get stuck in your pup’s throat or cause intestinal obstruction (choking hazard).
The placement of the crate
The best locations for placing the crate would be the corner of your living room, dining area, or other place where the family members gather regularly. The crate should be placed in the right spot as well. If the crate is placed in the middle of the living room, it may be difficult for you and the other family members to navigate around it. Alternatively, if the crate is in a place that is isolated from the main house, your dog may not want to go in the crate itself.
If you have a young puppy, the crate’s location is crucial at night time. Puppies tend to go out once during the nighttime. Therefore, place the crate near or close to your bed. This way, you will be able to hear if your pup is whining about going out. What if having the crate in the bedroom is not an option? In that case, you can use a baby monitor. Keep the baby monitor near the crate to hear if your puppy starts whining in the middle of the night.
Getting two crates is ideal, especially if you have a large dog. One crate can be kept in the living room or where you want your dog to spend time during the day. The other crate can be kept in your bedroom or where your dog usually spends the night.
Puppy crate training: a step-by-step process.
Step 1: introduction of the crate to the pup
The first step in the puppy crate training process is introducing your puppy to the crate. Whether conducting crate training, house training, teaching your dog to play fetch, etc., your dog needs to get acclimatized with the material first. Similarly, in the case of puppy crate training, your dog needs to get acclimated to the presence of the crate. This will allow your dog to explore the crate on his own. Here are a few ways you can encourage your dog to explore the crate:
Bring your dog close to the crate. Make sure that the door of the crate stays open at all times.
Secure the gate so that it does not suddenly close on its own or hit your dog by mistake. Such instances can make your dog frightened of the crate. Therefore, you must ensure that the door has been secured.
Encourage your dog to explore the crate by putting in some treats or offering toys.
If your dog seems skeptical about entering the crate, keep the treats near the dog crate gate so that your dog steps into the dog crate and gets the treat. Do not force your dog to enter the crate. If your dog is not comfortable entering the crate, it is OK.
Once your dog has gotten the treat from inside the crate, throw the treats a little further in. This will encourage your dog to enter the crate further.
Continue tossing treats into the crate till the dog is comfortable going in the crate to get the treat.
This process may take a few days to a few weeks. You have to stay patient and encourage your dog to explore the crate and spend time in it. Alternatively, your dog may like the crate on the first day itself. However, you must be ready for the long process.
Step 2: Start giving your dog his meals in the crate.
Come to this step only if you have been successful in step number one. If you have not been successful in the first step, continue doing it till you are. In this step of the puppy crate training process, you will start feeding your puppy his meals inside the crate. Suppose your puppy seems skeptical to still enter the crate or go back to step one. If your puppy is fine with entering the crate and getting treats, give him his meals inside the crate. This will show him that the crate is not a bad place. Your dog will learn to associate the crate with positive things like foods and treats. Use the following tips to succeed in step two of the puppy crate training process.
Encourage your dog to go all the way to the back of the crate by either putting his food or offering him a stuffed puzzle toy to play with at the end of the crate.
If your dog still seems skeptical about entering the crate, place the food or toy in this section of the crate where your dog is comfortable. Once your dog is comfortable till a certain section of the crate, next time, give the meals a little further inside.
Step 3: Close the door
Once you notice that your dog is comfortable eating his full meal in the crate, you can start practicing closing the door of the crate. Check out the following tips to help you with this step of puppy crate training.
Your life put the food at the back of the crate. Your dog enters the crate and starts to eat. Now, close the door of the dog crate.
Do not lock the door of the crate. Simply close it.
If your dog seems uncomfortable with closing the gate, close it only halfway. Wait for your dog to become comfortable with the gate closing halfway before you start to close the gate completely.
During the initial stages, keep the gate closed for only 10 seconds at a time. When your dog becomes comfortable, you can keep the gate closed for longer.
Do not keep the gate closed once the puppy has finished feeding.
During this stage, you cannot leave your dog in the crate for anytime longer than the feeding duration. Always supervise your dog when he is in the crate at this stage.
If your dog starts to whine about being let out, it is an indication that you have progressed too quickly. You need to slow down and reduce the time of keeping the dog crate gate closed.
Progress slowly and gradually.
Step 4: Increase the duration of crate time
Once your dog is completely comfortable with eating all of his meals inside the crate, it is time to start confining your dog to the crate for longer periods. Check out the following tips to ensure your success with this step of the puppy crate training process:
Call your dog to the crate. Offer him a treat.
Ask your dog to enter the crate by putting a treat inside. You can also add the command ‘enter crate’ at this point.
Once your dog has successfully entered the crate and retrieved the treat, encourage the behavior, offer your dog another treat and close the door of the dog crate.
Sit down next to the crate while allowing your dog to be inside the crate. Do this for one minute.
When your dog gets comfortable with being inside the crate with the door closed, increase the time interval in the following manner.
- 1 minute
- 2 minutes
- 3 minutes
- 5 minutes
- 7 minutes
- 10 minutes
Once your dog successfully stays inside the crate for 10 minutes without whining, you can start to move around while allowing your dog to be inside the crate. At this stage, do not let your dog stay alone in the crate for longer than 10 minutes.
Once your dog gets acclimatized to you moving around in the room while he is in the crate for 10 minutes, you can start to leave the room and go into another room.
Step 5: Increase the duration of stay further.
The fifth step in the puppy crate training process involves increasing the duration of time spent in the dog crate. Once your dog is comfortable with you roaming around the house and him being in the crate for 10 minutes, increase the duration of your dog staying in the crate. Keep going till you reach the time point of 30 minutes.
Step 6: Allow your dog to nap in the crate
Once your dog is successfully staying in the crate for 30 minutes without whining, it is time to allow your dog to start taking naps in the crate. Before bedtime, you should use the crate for your pup’s afternoon naps.
Initially, you can ask your pup to enter the crate, close the door, and sit next to him while he dozes off. Once your puppy is sleeping, you can leave your puppy alone in the crate and do your housework.
Step 7: Crate your dog when you leave
Step 7 in the puppy crate training process involves keeping your dog in the crate when you leave for work. Do this initially for only 30 minutes at a time. To get your pup used to stay in the crate for longer periods, do the following:
Ask your dog to enter the crate with the command, ‘enter crate.’ Ensure that the crate has some treats and your dog’s favorite toys.
Come back within the 30-minute duration to let your dog out of the crate.
Do not spend a prolonged amount of time saying goodbye to your pup when you leave. Keep it brief and leave quickly. Give your dog a treat, encourage his behavior and leave. Come back within 30 minutes.
When you come home, do not reward your dog if your dog is displaying excited behavior. Once your dog has calmed down, open the crate, offer a treat, and praise the behavior.
When you are home, crate your dog at frequent intervals so that your dog does not associate being in the crate with you leaving.
Step 8: Start to crate your dog during nighttime.
Use your command to get your dog to enter the dog crate. As I have mentioned, the crate should either be next to you in your bedroom or at a place where your dog regularly sleeps. If your dog’s regular sleeping place is away from your bedroom, use a baby monitor to watch your dog.
To get your dog used to sleeping in the crate your night time, you can stay near the crate till your dog has fallen asleep and leave afterward.
Tips and tricks for successful puppy crate training
Enough pee and poo breaks
Remember to take your dog out for a potty break before putting him in the crate. When you let your dog out of the crate, take him again for a pee and poo break. This is especially crucial if your dog is still in the puppyhood stages and is learning to hold his bladder. During this time, puppies do not have much control over their bladder. Therefore, you must allow your puppy to do his business whenever you let him out of the crate.
Do not crate your dog for too long.
A crate is not a dog-sitting solution for your nine-to-five job. If you leave your dog in the crate for over two to three hours, your dog will be forced to do his business in the crate. Pups need to be led out of the crate for pee and poo breaks every two hours. You can leave him in the crate for 8 hours maximum if you have an adult dog (with pee break at 4 hours). Therefore, you should plan a series of breaks if you have a puppy or at least two breaks if you have an older dog so that your dog can be comfortable in the crate.
The crate should be a happy place.
The crate should remain a positive place for the pup during the training duration of the puppy crate. Make the crate a positive spot by feeding your pup inside the crate. Suppose your dog is reluctant to enter the crate in the initial phases. In that case, you can place the food bowl right outside the crate and then move it in when your puppy develops confidence.
Understand the needs of your pup
Understand the difference between noises of frustration and noises that mean that your puppy has to go out. You can ignore the whine if your puppy is whining right after returning from a potty break. However, if your puppy is constantly whining for longer than five minutes, you need to take it seriously.
Never use the crate as a source of punishment.
If you use the crate as a source of punishment, your dog will start associating the crate with negative things. Thus, your dog will start feeling that a crate is a place where he is sent when he has done something wrong. He may not want to go into the crate at other times. Therefore, always associate crate training with positive reinforcement, treat, food, toys, etc., but never with negative things like scolding, shouting, hitting, etc.
Delta never underwent puppy crate training. Primarily because there has been no need to. He has been sleeping with us right from day one. When he was a puppy,, he would whine if he had to go out. I would wake up and take him out. When he would come back, he would whine to be picked up and put back on the bed. Nowadays, Delta either lounges on our bed or his dog bed for most parts of the day. He does not have any destructive tendencies. He is not scared of fireworks or loud noises. His safe place is with his parents. If we are around, nothing bothers him. Therefore, there has not been any need to crate train Delta.
Puppy crate training is best if done slowly and gradually. Do not try to push your puppy beyond his comfort level. The dog crate should always be understood as a happy place. It may take you a few weeks to a few months to get your puppy completely crate trained. However, this training will come in very handy in the long run.
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Has your dog undergone puppy crate training? How long did it take for you to crate train your dog? How often does your dog prefer to use the crate? Please share your experience in the comment section below so that other dog guardians can also understand what they should expect in the process of puppy crate training.
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Frequently Asked Questions
No. Puppy crate training, can provide your dog a secure place to go anytime he wants if done the right way. If you do the training right, the crate will be heaven for your pup.
It can take you anything from a few weeks to a few months if you consistently train your pup without giving up or getting angry. Most dog guardians are successful in puppy crate training within six months.
This factor will depend on the age of your pup:
· 8 weeks old: 2 hours
· 12 weeks old: 4 hours
· 16 weeks old: 5 hours
· 20 weeks old: 6 hours
· 24 weeks old: 7 hours
· 28 weeks old: 8 hours
You can start the process of crate training once your dog reaches 8 weeks of age.