10 Steps to Successfully Crate Train Your Puppy
Crate training is a valuable tool that can help both you and your puppy in various ways. It provides a safe and secure space for your puppy to call their own, aids in house training, and ensures their safety when you can’t directly supervise them. Properly implemented, crate training can establish a positive association with the crate, making it a comfortable and familiar space for your furry friend. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:
Step 1: Choose the Right Crate
Start by selecting a crate that provides enough space for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. A crate that is too large may encourage your puppy to use one end as a bathroom, defeating the purpose of crate training. Dogs are direct descendants of Wolves and prefer to be in den like settings. We recommend the Petmate Vari kennel or something similar over the traditional wire crate. The bottom half of the Vari kennel is enclosed creating a more den like feeling and makes the dog feel more comfortable than an open one in our opinion. They are easier to clean as well but the con is that it doesn’t fold down easy like a wire one.
Step 2: Introduce the Crate Gradually
Place the crate in a common area where your puppy can see and sniff it. Encourage them to explore it at their own pace by placing treats and toys inside. Make sure the crate door is kept open to prevent any fear or anxiety associated with confinement.
Step 3: Create a Positive Association
Associate the crate with positive experiences by feeding your puppy their meals near the crate or inside it. Use praise and treats to reinforce positive behavior, gradually building a positive connection with the crate. You can also clicker train your dog to go in. Toss a treat in and as soon as the dog crosses the line into the kennel click and tell them good dog. Once they are comfortable walking in for a treat you can go to the next step. Toss a treat in and before they can come out click and reward again rewarding the behavior of them staying in the kennel. Next add the command word as your tossing the treat in at the same time. Repeat this process a couple times a day. Keep it short and sweet.
Step 4: Encourage Nap Time in the Crate
Encourage your puppy to take naps in the crate by placing a comfortable blanket or bed inside. Utilize a soft toy or a blanket with your scent to provide comfort and reassurance. Be mindful of what you put in the crate, toys can easily turn into choking hazards if you have a dog who is destructive.
Step 5: Gradually Increase Crate Time
Increase the duration of crate time gradually. Begin by closing the crate door for short periods while you are present, extending the time as your puppy becomes more comfortable. Avoid letting them out when they are whining or barking at all cost, as this can reinforce the idea that making noise will result in freedom. Put some earbuds in until they calm down. This is highlighted because it’s the most important thing to remember for crate training. This will single handly ruin your crate training and cause a dog to lose his bananas anytime he goes in the kennel. Ride it out!
Step 6: Establish a Routine
Incorporate a consistent schedule for crate use, including regular meal times, playtime, and bathroom breaks. Consistency is key to successful crate training.
Step 7: Use Crate for Time-outs
Utilize the crate for short time-outs when your puppy misbehaves, ensuring that they perceive it as a peaceful place rather than a form of punishment. Never use the crate as a tool for discipline or isolation. Just use it whenever the puppy is driving you nuts to get some peacetime until they calm down.
Step 8: Practice Patience and Positive Reinforcement
Remain patient throughout the process and use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior. Avoid scolding or punishing your puppy while they are in the crate, as this can create negative associations.
Step 9: Gradually Increase Independence
Gradually increase your puppy’s independence by leaving the room or house for short periods while they are in the crate. Return calmly without making a big fuss, reinforcing the idea that your departures and arrivals are non-events.
Step 10: Gradually Phase Out Crate Usage
As your puppy becomes more reliable with house training and well-behaved when unsupervised, gradually phase out the crate usage during the day. Ensure your puppy has access to a safe and puppy-proofed space, and continue using the crate for naps and nighttime.
By following these steps with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can ensure a positive and successful crate training experience for your beloved puppy. Remember, each puppy is unique, so the key is to adjust the training to suit your puppy’s temperament and needs.
If you struggle after going through all this, schedule a private lesson with us!