To your puppy, a crate is a very natural and comfortable experience. Her crate acts as an artificial den, and makes housetraining much easier. It also protects your dog and your home when you are not able to closely supervise her. You will even find your puppy retreating back to her “den” for a nap. Puppies, and dogs, find comfort in having a place of their very own. Start early to train your puppy to accept and use the crate properly. You can also talk to a certified dog trainer or behaviorist for more tips on how to crate train a puppy.
- Select a crate
Your puppy’s crate should be big enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down in, and that’s about it. For puppies, it is important that the crate is not big enough to allow the puppy to eliminate in one corner and sleep in the other. If you decide to buy a crate that will fit your puppy when she is fully grown, simply block off the back of it with a large box or divider panel that comes with some crate styles. As your puppy grows, you can gradually move the divider panel, so that the crate space remains correctly sized. You have two major options for crates:
- Folds for storage or travel
- Provides great visibility for pets
- Are usually heavier than plastic
- Less insulation for your dog, as all sides are open. You can cover the sides and back with a blanket for added warmth and protection
- Similar to a den, so they feel secure to your dog
- Better insulated than wire
- Can be airline-approved (always check your airline’s pet travel regulations before flying)
- Usually not ideal for car travel
- Start gradually.
- Begin by tossing a treat into the crate and allowing your puppy to enter, eat the treat and come back out. Praise her each time she enters her crate.
- Next, begin to feed your puppy in her crate. Don't close the door until she seems very comfortable. Then, open it immediately. Gradually increase the length of time the door is closed.
- Once your puppy is used to the crate, allow her to spend longer periods of time in it while you stay nearby. Never open the door of the crate while your dog is whining, barking, scratching, or doing anything you don't want to encourage. Casually open the door when you let out your puppy.
- Increase time.
- Now that your puppy is familiar with her crate, use the crate anytime you are unable to actively supervise her. Place a Kong stuffed with treats or another fun toy in her crate with her.
- The idea is to acclimate your dog to staying in the crate for longer and longer periods of time. Eventually, crate training can help your puppy to sleep through the night in the crate or remain calm in the crate while you are out of the house for a few hours.
- Stick to it.
Different puppies take different amounts of time to get used to the crate. Stick to the training and your puppy will be crate-trained in no time.
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