How do i crate train my puppy?

How do I crate train my puppy?

Firstly let's talk about what is the best place for a crate and it does depend on your dog's needs and your house. We always advise that it is somewhere away from windows and direct sunlight as this can cause your dog to overheat if it's a sunny day but also to make sure there are no distractions for your puppy like their reflection or people walking past the window. Also make sure it is somewhere that the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold and without a draft as this can cause your dog discomfort. 

When your dog is young it is best to have cover over the crate to lower the distraction they have around them and it creates a safe comfortable space for them to fully relax and unwind. You can either put a blanket or cloth over the top or you can buy a crate specific cover for your type of crate. 

It is best to not allow anything in your dog's crate such as toys and food if they are in their crate unsupervised. As we all know that puppies love to chew and that can cause hazards such as choking on small parts that may come off the toys. If you are supervising your dog while in their crate to help train them to settle or be more comfortable, then enrichment toys/treats like LickiMats or a stuffable KONG puppy are a great tool for this. 

So let's get to it, how do you crate train your puppy?

  1. It is a great start to keep the crate door open once you’ve brought your puppy home and put toys inside to try and invite them in. If they go into their crate by themselves make sure you reward this behaviour with lots of fuss and attention. You can even use the word ‘Yes’ in a high pitch voice. This enforces the correct behaviour with a verbal and physical enforcement. 

  2. If your new addition has come home with a blanket from the breeder, then it's a great idea to put that in their crate too. This will have a familiar scent that they are used to making it even more inviting. 

  3. It is a great idea to feed your puppies meals close to the crate as this helps them to become familiar with the area but also sees the area as a positive place to be and not a place that should be feared. 

  4. Once they are comfortable with eating near their crate then move on to setting up enrichment activities such as a LickiMat or a stuffable KONG puppy in their crate. Not only does the mental stimulation tire your puppy out, but it also helps to reinforce that the crate is a great safe place to be. When your dog is using an enrichment toy such as a LickiMat or a stuffable KONG puppy it is a great way to help soothe because as they lick it helps to release endorphins which help become relaxed and less stressed or anxious. Then you can slowly build up to shutting the crate door but not locking it. If they become distressed they can easily come out of the crate. 

  5. Now it is best to start increasing the time your puppy is in their crate, the best way is to make sure you set them up for success and we will cover what that means in the section below. Once you have set them up, put them in their crate without anything but their comfortable bedding and shut and lock the door. Your puppy may just settle but sometimes they can whine. Unfortunately when your puppy whines it can be a high pitched cry however try not to stress and become upset yourself as this can unsettle your puppy more. They aren’t doing it because they are hurt, it's more because they are sociable and want to be out with you. It is best to not to react to the whining and wait until they settle. Even if they settle for 5 seconds make sure to be close by and open the crate door and let them out straight away. This enforces that once they have settled they can come out of the crate. 

  6. Then slowly increase the time that they are in their crate for. It can be a long process for some dogs but it is a great tool to aid their well being and training. Make sure that your puppy does not have any collars, leads or harnesses on while they are in their crate as these can cause potential injuries to your puppy.

As you know every dog is different and their needs can change so make sure you do what is right for you and your puppy. There is no specific way to crate train and what works for you may not work for someone else. 

What does setting them up for success mean?

For crate training to be successful, you have to help reduce the distractions and make sure their needs are met before going into their crate. 

  1. Make sure you’ve taken them outside to have the opportunity to have a wee or a poo. Therefore you know their bladder is empty and they don't need to go outside.

  2. It is best to make sure they have a full belly and not going to become hungry during crate training as this could be another reason why they become distressed. 

  3. Make sure there is no background noise, the room temperature is fine and no one is scheduled to visit. 

  4. It is best to crate train when they are tired or when you know they need a nap. If they’ve just taken a nap it isn't good to put them in their crate as they will have a lot of energy to burn off and the training is less likely to be successful. 

Once you have accomplished all of these steps, you know your puppies needs have been met helping set you and your puppy up for a successful training session.

Make sure you read the next article on ‘is it normal that my puppy cries in the crate, how can i stop them crying and the cause.’ 

Love from Olivia x