A crate is an excellent tool, and we recommend that you have one ready before you bring your little baby home. Crate training is essential to your puppy’s development and is helpful with the housetraining process. It’s also a great way to protect your pup, and your home, from injury when you simply aren’t able to offer supervision. The following list provides 10 tips that will help get you started with crate training.
1. Select an Appropriate Size:
Crate size is essential in the potty training process. The crate should be just big enough for your pup to lie down, stand up and turn in a full circle. If the crate is any larger your pup may designate one corner as the peeing area and the other corner as the sleeping area, and that wont be pleasant for either of you. Many of the wire crate options come with an adjustable back wall so you can adjust the size based on your puppy’s growth. Other plastic crates are great for traveling. Make sure to do some research on which size and material best fits your puppy’s need.
2. Create a Positive Experience:
Introduce your puppy to the crate with treats and chew toys so they associate the crate with the joy of meaty treats. If your puppy thinks that every time he enters his crate he will get something delicious then he will instinctively go there to lie down.
3. Introduce the Crate in Waves:
As you provide treats, toys and chews to your pup in the crate, leave the door open at first until she feels comfortable entering on her own. Try shutting the gate for just a few minutes at a time while your puppy is sleeping or eating a bone, and then open the gate so your pup can exit freely. Start with 2 minutes, then five, then ten. The more gradually you leave your puppy locked in the less your pup will feel trapped. Once your furry companion has established her crate as a “safe zone” you can now shut the gate at night and when you leave the house.
4. Use Your Scent:
Try to throw in clothes or old rags with your scent so your puppy doesn’t feel alone. Puppy’s are used to sleeping with their mother and litter mates, and isolation in the crate can cause panic or alarm. Adding your scent will help comfort your little angel and will also help strengthen the bond between you and your pup. Many companies even sell teddy’s that can be warmed up and include an imitation heartbeat so your puppy feels like Mama is present.
5. Make it Cozy:
Try to make the crate as dark as possible. Drape a blanket over the top to do so. Dogs are den animals and even at this very young age they will look to sleep in a confined area that is dark and cozy. Leave the crate door open and your pup will even go nap inside to get away from the light and open space of your home.
6. Only Short Periods of Time:
This is one of the most important things to remember when crating your puppy. A pup under a year old has very limited bladder control and needs to be let out frequently to potty. Even if you are working during the day someone should stop by to let your pup out to pee. A general rule of thumb is a puppy can hold his pee 1 hour for every month he is old. So a three-month-old pup should be kept in the crate no more than 3 hours at a time without a break.
7. Open the Gate and Go:
Chances are your pup needs to go potty as soon as you open that gate. So treat every release like an all out sprint. When the gun goes off snap a leash to your pups collar and b-line for the door. Go straight to your designated potty spot. Puppies, like children, excel with routine and this simple task will expedite the potty training process immensely.
8. Never Use the Crate as Punishment:
If your puppy has been bad or is down right irritating don’t resort to the crate. Doing so will create a negative connotation for your puppy and the effects can ruin all of the groundwork you have already done.
9. Keep the Crate Near Your Bed:
Your puppy is going to want to be closed to you at all times, and the first few weeks are especially difficult away from the pup’s mother. Keep the crate near your bed, your scent and presence is going to be comforting and will let your pup know that he is not being abandoned. It will also help you hear your pups whining at night. Usually a puppy will wine when he needs to go out to pee so make sure to accommodate.
10. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise:
If your puppy is bottled up with energy the crate training process is going to be very difficult. Make sure to go for long walks, play fetch or take your pup to the local dog park before extended stays in the crate. Dogs, and especially puppies, sleep a lot! And I mean a lot, the typical pup sleeps roughly 18 hours a day, so if the energy meter is drained then your pup won’t mind at all being left alone for a few hours so he can dream of sniffing butts and chasing cats.
Good luck! And drop us a line in the comments if you have any other crate training tricks that have worked for you!