You know that cozy feeling when you finally climb into bed at the end of a long day? If you crate train your dog correctly, it can feel that too. Some people might think of crating as cruel, but it’s really just catering to dogs’ natural instincts. Dogs are cave animals, and their crate is their kingdom!
However, it’s important that create a space where your dog feels comfortable. Here are some tips to smoothly crate train your new puppy.
Step One: Creating the Crate
The two most popular options for crate training are metal pens and plastic “bins” with swinging metal doors. Whichever you choose, you’ll need to pick one that is large enough for the puppy to stand up in and turn around so it won’t feel trapped. It’s also a good idea to put some soft blankets and a toy or two inside – just make sure the toys are large enough to avoid a choking hazard.
Step Two: Making Puppy Feel at Home
Set the crate, with all its comfy frills, in a prominent area of your house. This way, the puppy will not associate his crate with loneliness. Leave the door open, and let the puppy sniff about it and explore on its own terms for a while. Begin feeding it meals near the crate so it associates it with a good time.
Sometimes puppies take to their crate quickly and walk right inside; others take some coaxing. If yours is the latter, try putting some treats in a trail leading into the crate. If your puppy still doesn’t want to go inside, don’t force it! It will come in time, and forcing a puppy into the crate will create anxiety and slow down the process.
Try shutting the crate’s door while you are home, but don’t lock it. Your dog will soon learn that it’s not “trapped” in the crate and can come and go whenever it pleases. As it becomes more comfortable, you can start locking it inside for short periods of time. Begin with 30 minutes, and build from there. You should never leave the puppy in the crate for longer than six hours, and even this must be worked up to.
Step Three: Crafting a Routine
Consistency is key when crate training a puppy. You should always take your dog out to use the bathroom immediately before it enters the kennel, and immediately after exiting. Although animals have a natural tendency to avoid eliminating where they sleep, this schedule will help younger puppies that haven’t quite mastered bladder control.
If you properly crate train your puppy, you can save your carpet, shoes and more! Not only is crate training nearly synonymous with housebreaking, it also creates a private space for your dog. Whether it’s taking a quick nap, hiding from company or enjoying a solitude, dogs need to feel secure, and crate training will do just that.