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Crate training puppies can help to encourage good behavior, allowing you to leave your pooch alone without worrying about coming back to shredded furniture or house training accidents on the carpet. What’s more, a crate can help your dog feel safe and secure when you’re not there.

Like their wild counterparts prefer to sleep in dens, many dogs enjoy the cozy confines of a crate when relaxing and where they can snuggle with a favorite toy for any length of time. If you’re going to use a dog crate, you need to help your pup get used to the idea with proper training. 

Crating with Caution 

Even though crate training is perfectly safe, there are some important safety tips to keep in mind. If not used correctly, a crate can do more harm than good for your new puppy. 

Don’t Make the Crate a Punishment

When your dog acts out, you should never punish it by locking it inside of its crate. That’s supposed to be a safe space for your dog. If you lock up your pooch when it’s feeling upset or distressed, it will begin to associate those negative emotions with its crate.

Your pup may get anxious when it’s locked in its crate and will never learn to go there voluntarily. All in all, you want crate training to be a positive experience for your dog.

Don’t Leave Your Puppy for Long Periods

Leaving your pooch in a crate for a shorter time is best. If you leave your pup in its crate for too long, it can begin to display depression and anxiety. Since it isn’t getting any exercise, it can also start to have physical health issues such as weak joints or atrophied muscles.

Young puppies less than six months old can’t handle more than three or four hours in a crate before needing relief. You should limit your pup’s time in its crate whenever possible and give it plenty of time to run around, play, and wear itself out. When it’s in its crate, leaving chew toys can help to keep your pup entertained, like a Kong toy filled with peanut butter.

Choosing the Right Crate

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Not all crates are created equal. You need to find the one that’s just right for your pooch. With all of the different sizes and styles available on the market today, though, choosing can be challenging. There are a couple of important factors to keep in mind for any dog owner.

Material

If your puppy is prone to chewing, you should probably stick to a durable metal or wire crate. You can find lightweight wire styles as well as heavy-duty crates for large or adult dogs. While these are heavier than other crate types, some are collapsible to make them easier to move.

If you’re looking for something lighter and cheaper, you can find plastic crate kennels as well. Fabric or canvas crates are the easiest to transport, but the least robust when it comes to curious puppies. 

Size

Your dog’s crate needs to be comfortable to be called home. It should be large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around, but not so large that they slide around during travel.

You should look for a crate that is just a little bit taller than floor-to-ear and a bit longer than nose-to-tail-base. If your dog is still growing, you may want to get a few sizes up to accommodate its full-grown size. You can block off the excess space with blankets, towels, or a divider.

Steps to Crate Training Your Puppy

If you follow proper procedure during crate training, you can ensure that you have a happy and well-behaved puppy by the end of it. Remember, though, that it can take weeks or even months of small steps for your puppy to accept its crate. You need to be able to take your time and make sure that your puppy’s experience with crate training is overall positive associations.

Dogs are den animals, so your pooch should soon learn to love its crate and see it as a safe place for puppy sleep. Here are the training steps you can follow to get puppies and older dogs used to their crate.

Familiarize Your Puppy With Its Crate

When you first buy your puppy’s new crate, place it in a common area where you tend to spend a lot of time. Often, the kitchen or the family room is a good idea. Make the area comfortable by spreading out pillows, soft blankets, and perhaps some favorite toys. Leave the door open and allow your dog to explore freely. If your puppy is wary of its new crate, you can encourage it by dropping treats nearby or inside. 

Make the Crate a Feeding Spot

Once your puppy gets used to the idea of their crate, it’s time to get them excited about it. Dogs tend to associate food with security and comfort, and so one of the easiest ways to get them to see their crate as a safe place is by feeding them around it.

Place the food bowl next to the crate door and progressively move it back until your dog is happily eating inside. Once they’re comfortable, try closing the door as they eat and opening it when they’re done. Over time, keep the door closed for longer periods each training session until they’re used to being locked inside for a short time after eating.

Try Some Practice Runs

Once your dog is comfortable eating inside the crate, you’re probably ready to start leaving your pup alone. Call it into the crate, perhaps offering a treat as incentive, then praise your puppy and close the door. Leave the room, but be sure to sit within hearing range.

Let your dog out after a short period, making the amount of time progressively longer until your pup can sit in its crate for thirty minutes or more without whining.

Crate Your Dog Alone

If your dog can sit crated with you in another room, it’s time to try leaving the house. Make sure that you create a routine each time that you do so that your dog knows what to expect.

Only step out for brief periods at first, and when you return, make sure that your arrival is low key. During this step, it’s good to continue crating when you’re still in the house. Otherwise, your dog may come to associate its kennel with being left alone.

Crate Overnight

The final step in the crating process is leaving your dog overnight. It’s best to place the crate somewhere within hearing range at first, especially if you have a puppy. They may not be able to make it a full eight hours without going outside to potty. Over time, however, your dog will become accustomed to sleeping in the crate in the night time.

Letting your dog sleep in their crate is a great solution for housebreaking issues, and it can help with potty training a puppy because your pop won’t want to soil the space where they sleep.

Common Crating Issues

Even if you do everything correctly during the crate training process, you may still see some behavioral and dog training issues from your new dog. It’s important to keep a close eye on both their physical and mental well-being during puppy training.

Crying or Whining

If your dog begins to whine in its crate at night, it could be because it needs to be let out to use the bathroom. However, it could also simply be whining to get out and stretch its legs. Try waiting a few minutes to see if the whining stops, and if it doesn’t, say their bathroom command to see how they respond. If you do take your dog out, make sure the trip is just for a potty break. Avoid playtime or engaging in any way that they’ll see as a reward.

Anxiety and Depression

Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their owner leaves the house, which can lead to destructive behaviors. While puppy crate training might prevent accidents or ripped furniture, it won’t address this issue’s root. If your dog seems distressed when you leave, you may want to consult with your vet or a dog trainer to help you both overcome the issue.

Conclusion

Crate training a dog ensures they see their crate as a space where they can feel safe and relax. Keep the first time in the crate short, and use plenty of praises and treats to make sure your dog has a positive experience.