Getting a new puppy can be an exciting but difficult time. Crate training can be especially difficult for new dog owners. Sticking to a routine will help your new puppy adapt to life in their new home.
Things To Keep In Mind When Crate Training
Don’t Use Crate For Punishment
Crates are great to manage a dog’s behavior and getting them comfortable in case they ever need to be put in a crate at the vet or doggy daycare. But they should never be used for punishing a dog. For example, if you’re having people over and want to avoid the dog getting in their way of eating any of the food, put them in the crate first. Offer them a toy or a treat and get them into their crate. This way they are not associating guests with their crate, and you are not using it as a punishment.
Keep in mind that puppies are not yet trained so dog liability insurance is something you might want to consider in the case of any destruction. A puppy insurance plan and dog wellness plan is a great place to start.
Don’t Leave In Crate Too Long
It’s not very natural for a dog to be left in a crate all day or all night. They need exercise and human interaction to avoid feeling depressed or anxious. If you are just trying to avoid the dog chewing things while you are out you can try a dog sitter, a dog facility. You can even tether them in a specific room so they can still wander about, but don’t have access to the entire home. Eventually, you can slowly open up the house to the dog when you trust they will no longer have accidents or destructive behaviors.
Puppies & Crates
Puppies under 6 months old should not be left in a crate longer than 3-4 hours at a time. This is because they can’t yet control their bladders and are still learning. This goes for any dog that is starting to house train. It takes a while to get them onto a routine.
Selecting The Right Crate
You have some options when purchasing a crate for your dog. There are plastic ones, fabric on rigid frames, and collapsible metal pens. Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around in the crate. For puppies, choose a crate that will accommodate their adult size.
The Crate Training Process
Introduce Dog To Crate
- Put the crate in a part of the house where you spend most of your time
- Put a soft blanket in the crate
- Keep crate door open and let them explore (some will want to sleep in it right away)
- Bring the dog over to the crate and speak in a happy tone of voice
- Encourage your dog to enter the crate with treats or toys
- Don’t force them inside
- It could take a couple of days for them to go fully inside
Feed Inside Crate
Now that your dog is a bit more comfortable being inside the crate you should begin feeding them their meals in it or near it. This helps them create a positive association with their crate.
- If your dog is already going in the crate feed them inside it
- If they remain reluctant, put the dish only as far as they will go
- Once the dog is in the crate eating you can close the door
- Keep the door closed for a few minutes longer every time they eat
Longer Periods Of Time In Crate
Now that your dog is eating in its crate it is time for you to begin leaving them in for shorter periods of time. Do this at first while you are home.
- Call them over to the crate by offering a treat
- Give them their cue to enter their crate or guide them in with the treat
- Once they enter the crate give them the treat and lots of praise
- Sit quietly near the crate for 10 minutes
- After 10 minutes go sit in another room.
- After a short time come back and wait with them a while longer, then let them out.
- Repeat daily or several times a day and slowly increase the length of time.
Once a dog is quiet in its crate for over 30 minutes you can feel comfortable leaving them in the crate for short periods of time, or to sleep at night. Don’t rush the process, it could take several weeks to get to this point.
If you’ve followed all the training guidelines but your dog begins whining in their crate at nighttime, they might need to use the washroom. Don’t reward them for whining and see if they stop. If they continue, ask them words associated with going to the washroom. If they respond and get excited, take them outside. Keep the trip short and strictly business. If the dog doesn’t need to relieve themselves, ignore their whining. If the whining continues you might need to take a few steps back in the training and move a bit slower.
If you are going to crate train your dog it’s important to keep fire safety in mind. Keep their crate in your bedroom or right near a door for a quick exit. If you keep your dogs in crates while you are not home make sure they are right near a door so the firefighters can quickly find them. Consider a smoke alarm system that is monitored while you are not home. There are also window decals that you can buy to put on your door that state how many animals live inside the home. This saves emergency responders time.
Pet Insurance For Dogs
Many pet parents will consider crate training, especially for your new puppy. While you can do your best to avoid any destruction or mishaps, dog liability insurance always comes in handy. You should also get a puppy insurance plan and a wellness plan. Pet insurance plans not only offer you peace of mind in case of an injury or illness but it can save you money on day-to-day routine vet appointments, dental, grooming, vaccine costs, and more.