Despite what some sensationalist headlines might have to say, crate training your pup isn’t cruel. Rather, puppy crate training takes advantage of your dog’s natural denning instincts, offering them a place to sleep and seek comfort.
Properly crate training a puppy can take time, effort, and a lot of know-how. To get you started, here’s a quick primer on how to make the crate a safe space for your new best friend.
When Not to Use a Crate
Crate training is a great way to house-train a puppy, but incorrect crating can lead to a myriad of problems. To ensure your pup stays happy, healthy, and well-behaved, you should know when not to use a crate.
Puppies under 10 weeks old should never be crated as they’re too young.
You should never use the crate as a punishment. If your dog comes to view it this way they’ll learn to fear it and refuse to enter.
Your dog can’t sweat, so heatstroke is a real threat in high temperatures. Crates prevent dogs from seeking out cooler areas during hot days so if your home gets warm you shouldn’t use a crate.
Don’t Crate Your Dog for Too Long
The length of time your dog spends in the crate should be carefully considered.
Puppies under 6 months shouldn’t stay in their crate for more than 3 or 4 hours at a stretch. Younger dogs can’t control their toileting for that long and a soiled crate is going to make your dog uncomfortable and anxious.
A dog that’s crated all day and night also won’t get enough exercise or human interaction. Such dogs can easily become depressed or anxious.
If you have to leave your dog alone for long periods of time you should hire a pet sitter or invest in day boarding.
Choose the Right Crate
There are a number of crates on the market.
When selecting a crate you want to ensure it’s big enough. Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around comfortably in it. When buying for a puppy, it’s a good idea to buy a crate to suit their adult size.
If your crate is substantially bigger than your puppy, you should block off the excess crate space before they grow into it. This discourages your puppy from toileting in one end of the crate and retreating to the other.
Introduce the Crate Slowly
To properly introduce your puppy to the crate, set it up in an area of your home where the family spends a lot of time. The door should be left open so that your dog can explore the crate in their own time.
If your dog hasn’t explored the crate on their own within a day or so then you can employ gentle encouragement. Try dropping treats nearby, then inside the door, and finally inside the crate.
If your dog isn’t food motivated, try substituting a favorite toy.
Puppy Crate Training Takes Time
Crate training a puppy can take anywhere from a few days to several months. You should never force your puppy into the crate or lock them in for prolonged periods. Such measures will only make your dog fearful and anxious.
Your dog should come to view their crate as their den. It should be a safe place for them. Getting them to that point can take time but it’s important you don’t rush the process.
Puppy crate training takes time and effort but the rewards are worth it. A properly trained pup will grow into a healthy, happy, well-behaved dog.
About to bring a new dog home to meet the family? Here’s how to help your other pets adjust when bringing home a new dog.