5 Easy Steps to Dog Crate Training for Puppies
1. Take Time Introducing Your Dog to Their Crate
Introducing your dog
to their crate is a process that cannot be rushed. Our dog may never have seen one before. Try looking at things from your dog’s perspective, as they’re probably
thinking “what is this large metal box in my living room?” So yeah, a crate can
be pretty scary for a dog at first. Therefore, crate training is not going to
happen overnight, and that’s something dog owners should be aware of while begining the process of crate training.
Introducing your dog
to their crate can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. After all,
every dog is different and is going to move at their own pace. To introduce
your dog to their crate, start by finding the best location in your home for
the crate. Ideally, a crate should be placed in an area with little-to-no noise
or foot traffic. The reason for this is that the crate being in a loud or busy
section of the house can contribute to your dog feeling frustrated or anxious
being in their crate. Think of it this way; it wouldn’t be too great seeing
everyone around you having a fun time but you can’t join in. Now, imagine how
your dog would feel if they were expected to hang out inside of their crate
while there are tons of fun and exciting things going on outside of the crate.
Thus, crate location matters.
After finding the
ideal spot for the crate, it’s time to start the introductions. First, allow
your dog to familiarize themselves with the crate, such as by sniffing it.
Before even considering putting them inside the crate, they must not be scared
to approach the crate. Next up is allowing your dog to freely move in and out
of the crate. While supervising, leave the door to the crate open and allow
your dog to explore. Do not close the door to the crate, as they must first be
comfortable with the crate before you shut the door. They may very well be
hesitant at first to go inside, which is totally okay. Only after your dog
feels comfortable exploring the open crate should you shut the door. Being
locked inside of a crate may be scary at first with your pup, which is why it's
important that you make sure your four-legged friend doesn’t view the crate as
a “bad” place. With proper training, your dog will come to recognize the crate
as a positive, relaxing space just for them.
It’s recommended that dog owners also consider feeding their dogs inside of their
crates to help move along the adjustment process. Many dogs experience
positive feelings when eating, and encouraging them to eat meals in their crate
is a great entry-level step to getting them to associate positive feelings with
their crate. Feeding your dog in their crate is a common component of positive
reinforcement, which we will get to in a later step.
2. Prep the Crate for Your Pup
is much warmer and more inviting for your dog when it's comfortable. Make
sure to prepare the crate for your dog. It's generally recommended that dogs
have a Crate Pad in the crate, as this provides a soft
and cozy floor for your dog to lay on. When finding the right pad for your
crate, it's important that it is fitted. If the pad is too small for the crate,
there will be lots of opportunities for your dogs to move around or chew up the
comes to choosing the right crate pad for your pup, it shouldn’t be a “one size
fits all” approach. After all, every dog has unique needs. For dogs with
sensitive joints that may need extra support, consider an Orthopedic Crate Pad for your crate. Unlike your standard
vinyl crate pad, an Orthopedic Crate Pad contains a thick foam cushion designed
to offer the maximum amount of muscle support for your pup.
finding the perfect pad for your crate, consider what items- if any, to put inside
of the crate. A chew toy or treat can be a great trick for helping your dog
feel more comfortable inside of their crate. Plus, if your dog doesn’t want to
sleep right away, a toy for them to chew on can give them something to do to
occupy themselves. To help your dog with the adjustment process, consider
placing some of their other favorite items inside the crate. A common trick
utilized by dog owners is to take an item that smells like them, such as a worn
shirt, and place it inside the crate. Numerous studies have shown that dogs are
easily comforted by their owners' scent, so this is an easy hack to make the
crate a more comforting space for your pup.
3. Use Positive Reinforcement
Out of the many training methods commonly utilized with dogs,
positive reinforcement is one of the most effective methods for crate training
your pups. Positive reinforcement is a reward-based training approach that
emphasizes creating the association of positive feelings with actions. When
applied to crate training, positive reinforcement aims to make the crate a
happy space for your pup. When done correctly, positive reinforcement will have
your dog looking forward to and enjoying their time in their crate.
can positive reinforcement be used for crate training? It’s quite simple; dog
owners should make their dogs feel rewarded anytime they get in their crate. We
all know our dogs best, so different rewards may work for different dogs. If
your dog responds well to praise, consider praising them every time they go into
their crate. Similarly, if your dog will do anything for treats, use your pup’s
favorite treats as a reward.
soon, your dog will begin associating the behavior of going into their crate
with the reward; praise. When they expect this positive outcome, dogs are more
willing to pursue the behavior that prompts this reward. In other
words, positive reinforcement teaches dogs to become more comfortable with
their crate through the use of rewards.
succeed in using positive reinforcement to crate-train your dog, repetition is
absolutely crucial. Make it a habit to repeat giving commands and providing
rewards for your pups to create a positive association. Repetition is what will
help your dog learn this behavior, but remember to be patient too; as positive
reinforcement is not going to work instantaneously. With practice, your dog
will begin associating their crate with positive feelings in no time.
4. Give Them Time Alone
this is the step where positive reinforcement comes into play again. Once your
dog has been fully introduced to their crate and their crate has been prepared,
you can begin practicing leaving them alone for some time in the crate. As
expected, dogs may get a little scared at first of being left alone in the
crate, which is why you should start with small time periods and work up from
there. If you’re doing some garden work outside or making a brief trip to the
coffee shop, try leaving your pup alone in their crate. It’s normal for a dog
to experience some restlessness or anxiety for the first couple of times being
in the crate. However, the more they are exposed to the crate, the more they
will learn that it’s really not that scary. In fact, it's a common practice for
many dog owners to just leave the crate door open at all times so their dog can
hang out in it as much as they want- because their pup loves the crate that
work on leaving your dog in their crate for longer periods of time, you should
notice your dog becoming much more comfortable being left alone in their crate.
Pretty soon, letting your long relax or catch up on some sleep in their crate
while you run errands will be no big deal.
5. Practice, Practice,
Now the easy Step; Practice, Practice introducing your pup to their
crate, training them with positive reinforcement, and leaving them alone for
longer periods of time. Remember;
when practicing, always remain patient. Most dogs aren’t going to be flawlessly
crate-trained overnight, and that’s normal. This is why practice is so
important, so you can get your dog to that place where they love hanging out
and relaxing in their crate.
Crates are Bad
one of the biggest misconceptions about dog crates? You probably know the
answer already. Yes, we’ve all heard people claim that crating dogs is “bad” or
even a form of abuse. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Crates are not a
cruel punishment for your pup, they’re a comfort. A dog crate provides a safe
and secure spot for your dog to comfortably retreat to, knowing they are safe
from harm. You’ve likely heard that dogs are natural “den animals”, and there’s
some truth to that statement. So, like den animals, dogs enjoy having their own
private space where they can relax and de-stress. In fact, lots of dogs
actively seek out spaces where they can unwind and escape from loud or noisy
look at a more extreme example too. If a dog suffers from extreme anxiety,
living in a busy house filled with loud noises can easily overwhelm them. This
is where a secure dog crate can really make a positive difference, as it
provides a calm and soothing environment away from all potential triggers.
crates are definitely not bad for your dogs, nor are they punishments. A dog crate provides your pup with a lifetime of
protection, safety, and comfort.
Crates are a Short-term Fix
are absolutely not some short-term fix or tool. Crates can provide a lifetime
of comfort and support for your pup, so you should absolutely view a quality
dog crate as a long-term investment. Yes, there are stages in a dog's life
where a crate may be used more regularly. However, you always want to ensure
that the safety and security provided by the crate are always available for
your pup. Let’s say that you bought a crate for your puppy to help speed along
the potty training process. As your pup gets older (and presumably, better at
holding their bladder or bowels), the crate may no longer be needed solely as a
potty training tool. However, let’s also say your pup is not a fan of loud
noises and gets easily overwhelmed by too many people. In this scenario, they
will seek out their crate for the comfort and shelter it provides them.
it’s time to switch up the narrative around crates and crate training. A
durable dog crate allows your dog to have their own safe and soothing
environment- no matter what's happening around them.
We hope this article has helped assist you
in the crate training process. Follow these tips and tricks, and your dog will
be feeling comfortable and safe in their crate in no time at all.