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Crate Training for Puppies and Older Dogs

Crate Training a Puppy: Commitment, Consistency, Tolerance, & Understanding

For a vast majority of families, introducing a new puppy or an older dog into their home is akin to welcoming another member to the clan; although the puppy/dog is considered a pet in the strictest sense of that word, owners routinely give their dogs human names, speak to them in complete sentences, and talk about them to others with the same aura as they would a newborn baby.

A Puppy Eating Food From a Tray Inside his CrateWhat can get lost within all of this domestic integration though, is the fact that dogs are not human; they are animals, den animals actually, which means that they instinctively want to have their own space or retreat, i.e. a den, where they can enjoy:

  • Sleep
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Seclusion

And this is the fundamental basis behind crate training a puppy or an older dog when it is first introduced into a new living environment; it provides the puppy/dog with a place it can call its own, much like people have a favourite space or room in their home where they can go whenever they feel the need for any of the reasons listed above.

There are several behaviours, and therefore several benefits, that can be achieved from crate training, particularly in the case of a young puppy; the most notable would include:

  • Housebreaking (the number one reason for crate training)
  • Protection from harm/injury when no one is home to supervise
  • Instilling a schedule with respect to eating, sleeping, and quiet time
  • Establishing boundaries – where the puppy can/cannot go in the home
  • Acclimatization in the event that any kennel or boarding time is required

Recognizing that bringing home a new canine companion will likely disrupt their family’s previous routine, owners may feel pressured to search for ideas on how to crate train a puppy as fast as possible.  However, crate training is not something that a puppy will just respond to/accept on the first night in its new home; it is a process, and it should therefore be introduced gradually. How? With a great deal of patience and considerable amounts of praise and reward as the puppy adjusts to the crate.

When it is introduced and incorporated properly, crate training can greatly contribute to the overall experience of bringing a puppy or an older dog into the family home. Some of the essential considerations for the owner-family in their crate training efforts include:

  • Crate Size
    • Should be large enough for puppy/dog to stand, turn, and lie comfortably
    • If too large, puppy/dog may be tempted to use some space as a potty area
  • Crate Location
    • Placed in a room where family members spend a lot of time – not isolated
  • Crating Periods
    • To be increased gradually over a period of time (several days/weeks)
    • Increase overall length of time in crate and amount of time left alone
    • Place treats in crate to signify that it is a positive and rewarding area
  • Meals in the Crate
    • Begin by setting food near crate, then gradually move the meals inside
    • Start by placing bowl just inside the crate; move it further in over time
  • Closing the Crate Door
    • Begin when meals are being taken routinely and fully inside the crate
    • Should be done nonchalantly; without fanfare, noise, startling moves
  • Toys in the Crate
    • Establish one or two favourite items dedicated for crate-only play time
  • Potty Training Schedule
    • Take the puppy/dog outside to eliminate as soon as it leaves the crate
    • Helps demonstrate where it is appropriate/not appropriate to ‘go potty’
  • Crate Training Puppies at Night
    • Place the crate in or very near to the bedroom – again to avoid isolation
    • Make sure the puppy/dog is tired from play/exercise and ready for sleep
    • Make sure the puppy/dog goes potty outside immediately before bedtime
    • When crate training a puppy at night, resist the urge to react/respond if/when it is crying, except to take it outside for a potty break
  • Crate Training a Puppy While at Work
    • It is highly discouraged to leave a puppy in its crate and alone all day long
    • Crate training should be a positive/rewarding experience – not punishment
    • Under these circumstances, ask or pay someone to let the puppy out often
    • Crate can be put in a larger penned area in the home (not an ideal option)

Successfully crate training a puppy or an older dog takes a combination of commitment, consistency, tolerance, and understanding – from all members of the family.

Integrate Crate Training with Professional Housebreaking Sessions for a Puppy

A Puppy Undergoing Crate TrainingOwners interested in crate training a new puppy or an adopted/re-homed older dog may want to seek the advice of the dog training professionals from Alpha Paws in Newmarket. These experienced trainers can provide insight and guidance on the appropriate steps for integrating a crate training schedule into the overall acclimatization process as a puppy or an older dog moves into its new environment.

Furthermore, the Alpha Paws team can incorporate crate training as part of their overall housebreaking training program for puppies, offered to support the assimilation process for both the puppy and its owners. For further information on this puppy housebreaking training program, please visit house breaking

If you are facing some challenges in crate training a puppy or an older dog, or would like to integrate crate training and housebreaking training for a new puppy, call the qualified trainers from Alpha Paws today at 905-830-9500 or 1-647-694-4584 to discuss our programs and find the optimal solution for you and your puppy.

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