Why And How To Properly Crate Train Your Puppy
Crate Training A Puppy Requires Sequestering, Routine, Praise, And Patience
For a certain segment of the population, the association of a crate with puppy training may be perceived as a negative – something used to prevent, stop, or even punish some unwanted behaviours. On the contrary, crate training a puppy is actually a means of positive reinforcement, a measure used to encourage desired behaviours.
In more specific terms, crate training can play a significant role in encouraging and/or influencing the development of a puppy in the following ways:
- Housebreaking (likely the number one reason for crate training)
- Instituting a routine with respect to eating, sleeping, quiet time
- Teaching boundaries – where a puppy is/is not permitted to explore
- Providing a haven or den where it can feel safe, secure, comfortable
- Protection from possible harm when no one is home to supervise
- Safer and less stressful automobile (and perhaps airplane) travel
- Acclimatization in the event that kennel/boarding time is required
When it is introduced and integrated properly, utilizing a crate can certainly contribute greatly to the overall puppy training experience. Before examining the implementation of crate training in more detail, it would be worthwhile to note the circumstances when using a crate can actually be detrimental to a puppy’s development. Situations that can work at odds with housebreaking and/or creating a positive environment for a puppy and should therefore be avoided include:
- The crate should not be used to punish bad or unwanted behaviour
- The crate should not be used to isolate the puppy from family/guests
- Owners should not place a puppy in its crate by force or with anger
- Unbroken crate time (except overnight) should not exceed 3-4 hours
- Crates should not be lined with newspapers or housebreaking pads
From the perspectives of implementation and integration, some of the key considerations for the owner-family when undertaking crate training with a new puppy would include:
- Crate size – just large enough for the puppy to stand, turn, and lie down
- A crate too large tempts the puppy to use a portion as its potty area
- Crate location – in a room where people spend a lot of time (do not isolate)
- Crate time – needs to be increased gradually based on the age of the puppy
- Rule of thumb: about an hour per month of age (part of bladder training)
- Meals – begin by setting food near crate, then gradually move meals inside
- Treats can be placed in crate to identify it as a positive/rewarding place
- Toys – one or two favourites should be designated for crate-only play time
- Door closure – also must be introduced and increased gradually over time
- Begun once meals are being taken regularly and freely inside the crate
- Should also be done casually – no fanfare, noise, or abrupt movements
- Alone time – another aspect to be started slowly and extended bit-by-bit
- Praise – should be an elemental component throughout all puppy training
Crate Training Tips to Stop Your Pup from Barking at Night
If you want your puppy to stop barking while in the crate, avoid trying to stop them. Instead, tire them out or give them something to occupy their mind. Here are some ideas to help in crate training a puppy:
1. Play With Your Pup Before Bedtime
Tire your puppy out before bedtime by playing games or taking them for a walk for an extended period. A game of fetch is also a great option that most puppies love. However, ensure not to excite them too much around the last hour before bedtime, as that will not help them calm down.
2. Bring the Smell of Their Littermates
This crate training tip might only be possible for some. If you can try, bring your pet’s favourite plush toy or blanket and then rub it all over their littermates. During the night, leave the toy or blanket in their crate. The smell of their littermates may help them sleep well at night.
3. Lie Beside the Crate with Door Open
Leave the crate door open and lie down across the doorway to make your pup feel that you are sleeping with them, making them more comfortable in the crate. Remember to block the door when you are lying down.
4. Sleep Beside the Crate
Try sleeping on the floor beside your puppy’s crate during bedtime. This will help your pet gradually calm down and get some sleep. Alternatively, you can also try placing the crate next to your bed or in an area close to you. Then, darken the room and go to sleep quietly. This crate training trick works for many pets.
5. Get Different Textured Toys
Your pup will have a different reaction to every specific toy, and multiple toys will keep their mind occupied. So, bring them toys with varied textures, shapes, and sizes, but ensure they do not chew, destroy, or swallow them. If you think your dog may swallow the object, avoid giving them tiny toys.
6. Put A Heartbeat Toy in the Crate
Heartbeat toy is a great puppy soother as it helps them feel comfortable and get more sleep. It is a small battery-operated heart-shaped device that beats like a real heart, stimulates the mom’s heartbeat, and helps your puppy sleep.
7. Use a Ticking Clock in the Crate
A ticking clock is another crate training alternative to a heartbeat toy. If you have a spare one, you can try putting it inside your puppy’s crate to help them relax and soothe. Wrap the clock in a soft towel so your pet can lie against it.
8. Put Their Favorite Chew Toy in the Crate
Puppies explore the world around them through their mouth. It is a natural instinct that can help them adjust to the new crate environment while they indulge in chewing. Give them their favourite chew toy and ensure they don’t gulp it down. It is best to give them a big chew toy to avoid such situations.
Successfully crate training a puppy will require a combination of: sequestering, routine or scheduling, supervision (when the puppy roams free), and a healthy dose of patience.
Unfortunately, the above outline barely scratches the surface with respect to the specific actions and timelines required to achieve that success.
While there are many different sources where more in-depth information can be obtained on crate training a puppy, perhaps the best resources for insight and guidance would be puppy trainers who can assist in integrating crate training within an overall puppy housebreaking training program.
If you are experiencing challenges with crate training or housebreaking a puppy, call Alpha Paws today at 905-830-9500 or 1-877-868-7297 to discuss our puppy training programs and find the best solution for you and your puppy
Also Read: How to Crate Train a Puppy