Crate Training Puppies

Crate training is an important part of training your puppy. It encourages your puppy to feel relaxed in a confined space. When used correctly, a crate can become a favorite place for sleeping and/or quiet time. It can keep your pet safe while you are not able to supervise your pet and, it can help prevent housetraining accidents. Crate training can start at any age. In fact, the sooner you begin the better!

Choosing the Right Crate

There are many different types of crates to choose from. The key things to consider are crates that are sturdy and durable, easy to clean, and have appropriate spacing between bars to reduce the risk of jaw injury and escape. The crate should be large enough for your puppy to comfortably stand and turn and lay on his or her side. Keep in mind how large your puppy will grow. Using a crate with a divider allows you to adjust the size of the crate as your puppy grows. The crate should be the size of a bed, not a bedroom.

Crate Graphics

Training Step-by-Step

Start by making your puppy’s crate comfortable and inviting by including soft bedding, safe toys, and a t-shirt or blanket with your scent. A familiar scent can help your puppy feel safe and comforted.

Puppy Laying Down In Crate

Introduce your puppy to the crate by leaving the door open to allow your puppy to investigate on his or her own. Encourage him or her to go into the crate by placing treats inside. Do this for a few sessions, and once your puppy is comfortable going into the crate on his or her own, begin to close the door for a few seconds at a time.

Gradually increase the duration your puppy is in the crate as long as he or she is relaxed. Gradually increase the distance between you and the crate. This process can take some time, but it’s important not to rush. It’s normal for dogs to vocalize, paw at the door or act fidgety when first confined because the experience is new and unfamiliar.

Puppy Sitting In Crate

If your puppy begins to vocalize, wait for him/her to settle down and be quiet for five seconds before opening the crate door.

If your puppy shows signs of escalating or experiencing significant distress (i.e., excessive barking or chewing at the bars), it’s best to stop and re-start the training sessions from the beginning. Proceed more gradually, shortening how long your puppy spends in the crate and shortening the distance between you and the crate.

Practise training your puppy to associate a word or phrase such as “place” or “go to bed” with the action of going into the crate so that he/she will go to the crate on command. Say the command, and as soon as he/she enters the crate, reward the behaviour with praise and a treat. Positive reinforcement will build a positive association with the crate and encourage your puppy to use it willingly.

Important Do’s and Don’t’s

Happy Dog In Crate With Toys

DO

  • Ensure your puppy has been out for a bathroom break BEFORE and AFTER crating for extended periods.
  • Exercise of play with your puppy BEFORE crating.
  • Play with your puppy around the crate.
  • Ensure the crate door remains open throughout the day to allow your puppy to use the crate freely.
  • Use a highly durable toy such as a food-stuffed Kong when crated.

DON’T

  • Leave your puppy with a chew without supervision as chews can be a choking hazard.
  • Use the crate as a punishment when your puppy misbehaves.
  • Force your puppy into the crate.