How to Guide: Crate Training a Puppy [2022]

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As pet owners, we all have one key priority: to keep our pets happy and healthy. It is our job to keep our dogs out of harm’s way, and that’s not always easy when we are out of the house and unable to monitor our dogs as closely as we would like. As we all know, dogs can get up to all sorts of mischief when their owners aren’t home! Crate training a puppy helps you avoid problems at home and while traveling.

how to guide crate training a puppy

Crate training is a popular, yet often misunderstood, way of keeping our dogs safe. In some cases, it’s also important for keeping our families and our other pets safe too.

Crate training a puppy is something that few pet owners end up regretting, since it comes with so many benefits. Yet it is vital that crate training is done correctly, as improper crate training often won’t yield the results that we are hoping for.

So, with that in mind, how do you crate train your dog? Furthermore, why should you do it? We have the answers to all of your crate training questions in this article. Read on for more information!

If you want to start with a free dog training course then you can start right now!

 

What Is Crate Training?

Before we dive into crate training and all of the good that it has to offer, you may first be wondering what it actually is. For people who have never crate trained a dog or for people that aren’t familiar with owning dogs at all, it can seem like a bit of a foreign concept. So what is it?

The process of teaching a pet to accept a dog crate

The short answer is that crate training a puppy is a process of teaching a dog to accept a dog crate. A dog crate is essentially a plastic or metal cage that is just a bit bigger than your dog. It’s designed to be a safe place for your dog – somewhere that they can relax on their own and somewhere that they can stay when you need to keep them in one place, for instance when you are out of the house or otherwise unable to keep an eye on your dog.

It’s also an incredibly useful training tool.

When crate training a puppy, you are essentially trying to make them see the crate as a place that they can enjoy being in, rather than letting them see it as somewhere that they are confined. This is an important distinction since a well crate trained dog is one that is a lot happier and safer in their crate.

puppy lying on the crate

Is crate training a puppy cruel?

Here’s the thing – when a lot of people hear the word ‘crate’ or ‘cage’ the automatic assumption is that it’s cruel. People think that it’s confinement or unacceptable for dogs to be put in crates, and will instantly dismiss the idea of using one. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Let’s get one thing out of the way -crate training a puppy is not cruel. The thing about crates is that in a sense they are basically like little dens for your dog. A crate can be a safe space for a dog, so long as they are crate trained correctly.

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If your dog is taught to associate the crate with relaxation, peace and happy things then being in their crate can be an enjoyable experience. There are a wide variety of different benefits to crate training your dog that we will discuss later on, but if done correctly staying in a crate can be wonderful both for you and your dog.

With that being said, crate training should not be used as a form of punishment for your dog.

Likewise, do not crate your dog if they struggle with separation anxiety or claustrophobia, and don’t keep your dog in the crate for too long. They should only be kept in a crate for around 3-4 hours each day.

How long does it take to crate train a puppy?

Dogs, much like people, are individual creatures. Sure, a breed may have certain characteristics, but each dog will have its own personality and training requirements.

Thanks to this, it can often be difficult to say precisely how long crate training a puppy will take. For some dogs, it could take as little as a week, whereas for others it could take longer than a month.

There will obviously be obstacles along the way no matter the dog, but some are simply going to take longer to crate train than others.

Why Crate Train your Dog

Now you know what crate training is. So why should you crate train your dog? Well, there are a number of different benefits that you should be mindful of!

Benefits Of Crate Training a Puppy

Gives the dog a place to go when tired

One great thing about crate training a puppy is that the crate will be a good place for your dog to go to when they are ready to unwind and relax.

It’s somewhere that they can go and not be disturbed. It can be especially useful in this respect if you have young children who like to follow your dog around – your dog can have a little bit of peace and quiet in there!

Ultimately your dog will have a nice, safe space that they can go to and relax. Dogs need to have little retreats of their own too, just like people. It’s almost like a little holiday for them there!

Can help with toilet training

If you’re in the process of toilet training your dog, using a crate can be an effective tool to help you to do so.

Since a crate is often a place where your dog relaxes and sleeps, it helps them to realize that they should only be evacuating their bowels and bladder outside, not inside.

It’s a good way to encourage them to control their urges, which is especially useful during the night. You are much less likely to experience accidents in the home after crate training a puppy.

Helps to settle dogs in new environments.

If your dog is new to your home, ensuring that they are crate trained is one of the first things that you should do.

Joining a new family or moving to a new household can be a pretty stressful time for your dog, and having a crate that they can use as their safe space is crucial in helping them to integrate into the new environment.

It will help them to feel safe and to relax during a time when things may feel a little stressful for them.

A safe place for the dog to go when not supervised

One of the main reasons why a lot of people opt to crate train their dogs is because it allows owners to keep their dogs safe when they aren’t supervised.

As much as we would like to always know what our dogs are doing, it sometimes just isn’t possible. Dogs can do all sorts of things when we aren’t around, from ruining furniture to sometimes getting themselves seriously hurt.

A crate keeps them safe when you are unable to watch them or you aren’t home.

It can make traveling with your dog easier

If you want to travel then having your dog crate trained can be beneficial. It makes travel a lot easier. If you are planning on taking your dog abroad with you, some airlines will even require that your dog be kept in a crate.

Even if you are traveling in a car a crate can be useful, and it can help your dog to feel more secure too, since traveling in cars can be quite scary for some dogs.

beagle inside the crate

Choosing a Crate

The very first thing that you need to do when you are crate training a puppy is to actually choose the right crate for them. It’s not a matter of just buying any crate that you find online or in a pet store.

The crate in question needs to be the right choice for your specific dog. The best thing to do is to take some measurements first.

The right dog crate for your dog will be one that will allow your dog to be standing but he won’t have to duck his head beneath his shoulder. He should also be able to stretch his entire body when he is lying down with plenty of space to do so. It’s best to get a crate that will fit your dog at his full size – in the meantime, you can use divider panels to limit the amount of space in there so it’s still comfortable for him while he is a puppy.

You may think that it’s better to get a larger crate, but this will only encourage your dog to eliminate in one part of the crate and sleep on the other side. This means that your house training efforts may not work.

You will also need to think about the material of the crate. There are a few materials to choose from, but plastic and metal are the most commonly seen. Metal crates are usually the most durable which is handy if your dog is a bit of a chewer!

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Make sure that the crate is comfortable for your dog. Consider whether your dog would be better suited to a covered crate or an open crate where they can see what’s going on. Every dog will have its own preferences, so it’s all about knowing your dog. Get the uncovered crate and notice the behavior when crate training a puppy, then get a cover for the crate if needed.

It’s a good idea to observe your dog’s behavior to work out whether covering the crate will work for them. If your dog struggles a lot with anxiety then covering the crate is often a good idea, since it can soothe them. The outside world can be overwhelming for some dogs, so limiting what they can see may calm them. Covering the crate can also be a good idea if you are traveling or you are trying to get your dog to sleep for the night.

It can be worth trying the crate with the cover on to see how your dog responds. If they don’t respond positively, then it could be a sign that they don’t like the crate being covered.

You can test it out by gradually introducing your dog to the covered crate, starting out with only the top covered, then one side, then another side, and then see how they respond to a final side being added. If they respond well, then it means that they like it! Don’t leave the dog unattended in a covered crate until they’ve had the time to get used to it though, as they could end up trying to chew the cover.

In addition to this, you can make it extra cozy by getting furniture and blankets to go inside of the crate, so it’s worth thinking about this when making your purchase! You will want to make the crate somewhere comfortable yet safe for your dog to hang out. Making it inviting and a place that they want to be is half of the battle.

9 Step Crate Training Process

Now that you have your crate ready to go, it’s time to get into the training part. This is definitely much harder than buying a crate, but with a little bit of patience and the right technique, your furry friend will be crate trained in no time at all.

With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step process of crate training a puppy, so you know exactly what to do.

Step 1: Choose the Right Crate

If you read the section above and already bought a crate for your dog then you should already have step one out of the way. If you didn’t read it, then here’s a quick recap. Make sure that you pick a dog crate that’s going to be comfortable for your dog, but one that they aren’t going to instantly destroy.

Having something durable is pretty essential since you don’t want your dog pulling a Houdini act when you aren’t home and escaping their crate. Consider a crate that’s right for your dog, since not all types of crates will work for all dogs.

Likewise, buy something that’s the right size, and use a divider as your puppy starts to get bigger.

Step 2: Establish a good Mindset

If you and your dog have the right mindset going into the crate training process then the whole ordeal is going to be significantly easier for you both.

It’s especially important to make sure that your dog is in the correct frame of mind when you put them into the crate.

So what mindset is the right mindset for crate training a puppy? As we have previously mentioned, it’s crucial that you don’t force your dog into the crate or use it as a form of punishment. This is not going to help in training your dog since your dog will have negative associations with the crate.

As such, it’s vital that the dog has a positive association with the crate. It needs to be somewhere that they are going to want to go to, not somewhere that they will want to avoid.

The dog needs to make a mental connection between relaxation and the crate. When your dog needs to relax, they should be able to instantly think of their crate. As such, you shouldn’t try to crate train your dog when they are in the middle of playing.

Playtime and relaxation don’t necessarily mix, and your dog is just going to want to get out and play some more. Make sure that you are choosing to crate training a puppy when they are already being quite calm since they will associate the crate with that level of calmness.

As we will explore later, you can first start out by leaving them in the crate for just a short while, and you can then gradually increase the time.

Step 3: Determine Where The Dog Will Be Most Comfortable

husky sitting on the crate

Your dog’s comfort is pivotal here since they are more likely to actually go into the crate if they feel comfortable.

The first thing that you should do is try to find a location in your house where the crate will go. The best place for it will usually be in a family room where people tend to spend the most time. A living room works for this.

You can also do other things to make it more comfortable, for instance, you can put a dog bed or a towel in there.

This won’t work for every dog since there will always be some dogs that will want to destroy the bed, especially if they have separation anxiety or if they are bored.

Some dogs may also prefer just to sleep on the hard surface of the crate floor though. It’s ultimately all down to what the dog prefers, so you may need to experiment with different things to entice your dog into the crate.

Step 4: Give the Dog a Treat After Going Into The Crate

Speaking of enticing dogs into their crates, there are few better incentives to do something for a dog than food! There are two aspects of this – first, encouraging meals in the crates, and second, giving them treats to go in there.

When your dog is familiar with the crate and has sniffed around in there for a while, the next thing you need to do is to give him his usual meals close to the crate.

If you notice that your dog is regularly going into it, then it’s a good sign that your dog is starting to associate the crate with their mealtimes, which is a good thing. You can then put it further into the crate to solidify the connection, and eventually, they will become more used to it.

Eventually, you can close the door of the crate when they are eating their meals, and open it when they are finished. You can prolong the amount of time that the door is closed as your dog becomes more comfortable in the crate.

Likewise, if your dog goes into the crate on their own to relax or even just to investigate, make sure that you reward them for it. When your dog goes into the crate, give them a treat. This is another way to create that positive association with the crate. It’s more likely to keep them hanging out in the crate for longer too since your dog will be distracted.

You can also use something like a kong toy as an incentive since you can stuff treats in this and it gives your dog something to keep them entertained.

Step 5: Keep track of the time

While it is important to get your dog used to be in the crate, it’s also important that they spend plenty of time outside of it too.

They shouldn’t be in the crate all of the time since they are going to need that time outside in order to do things like eat, evacuate their bowels, and play. There’s a chance they may soil in the crate if left in there too long, and it’s also not good for a dog to be left in a crate for long periods of time.

Make sure that you’re watching the clock to ensure that your dog isn’t in the crate for too long.

Step 6: Play games involving the crate

To further create a positive association with the crate, why not play some games with the dog? For instance, you could involve the crate in your games of fetch with your dog. Simply throw the ball into the crate and get your dog to retrieve it and bring it back to you from their crate.

You want to encourage them to go into the crate of their own volition, and this is a great way to do it. You can also hide treats inside of the crate so your dog can try and find them. It’s a great way to bond and it gets them used to the crate!

Step 7: Keep your dog naked

While you may be tempted to keep your dog’s collar or tag on them at all times, it’s incredibly important that you don’t leave it on them when they are in their crate, especially if they are being unsupervised.

Leaving your dog’s collar on him when he is in his crate can create a choking risk if it ends up being caught in their crate. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s always better to be safe and avoid the issue entirely by removing the collar before putting him in the crate.

Step 8: Set the dog up for success

Eventually, you will begin to notice that your dog is getting more and more comfortable in the crate, but don’t be tempted to just leave them in there for long periods of time straight away. When it comes to dogs and getting them integrated into a crate, it’s always better to do it in baby steps.

Don’t go from leaving them in there for 10-minute intervals to suddenly leaving them in the crate for 6 hours straight while you go to a work meeting. This could actually undo some of your progress together.

Gradually build up the amount of time that your dog is in their crate. You can see their progress live too if you get something like a dog camera or a recording device. All you’d need to do is turn the device on and open up your phone to watch them while you’re gone.

Monitor their behavior and see how they react to being alone in the crate for a longer period of time, and make sure that you give them a reward when you come home.

Step 9: Have patience

As we’ve already said, crate training isn’t something that you can do overnight with your dog. Some dogs will take to it quite quickly whereas others will need a little more time.

Just to be safe, it’s a good idea to allow for a minimum of six months of training with your dog. Puppies will usually learn fairly quickly, and it’s certainly possible for it to happen in a much shorter length of time but at least you can work on crate training thoroughly if you allow for a longer amount of time.

Be patient with your dog – it may take some time but they will get used to it.

If you want to start with a free dog training course then you can start right now!

 

Potential Problems That Can Occur

We would all like crate training a puppy to go totally smoothly, but the fact of the matter is that dogs can be unpredictable, just like humans can be. When you are crate training your dog, there are some problems that can crop up.

Here are some of them and how to troubleshoot them.

Too much time in the crate

A crate is useful, but it’s not a solution to every one of your problems. In fact, if you keep your dog in a crate for too long it can hinder their progress.

Your dog may begin to feel like they are being trapped and may start to feel a little claustrophobic.

If you know that you are going to be out of the house for a long time then you need to ensure that you find a way to meet your dog’s emotional and physical needs.

It’s especially important that you don’t leave young puppies in a crate for more than a few hours since they are usually unable to hold their bladders effectively.

dog lying inside the crate

Whining

Whining is another common thing that can happen when a dog is left in a crate, especially if it’s during the night.

The problem with whining is that it can often be hard to know if they are wanting to get out of the crate to go outside or if they just don’t want to be in the crate.

In most cases, if you followed the guidance we gave in this article, your dog won’t be whining for attention since it’s not a behavior that you would have rewarded, making it more likely that they need to go outside instead.

Don’t yell or slap the crate to get them to stop – if they’re whining for attention then you should ignore it. If they still continue after a couple of minutes then ask if they need to go outside with the phrase you associate with that.

If their body language suggests that is what they need, then that’s what you need to do. Otherwise, don’t give in to the whining.

Separation anxiety

It’s not a good idea to use a crate to deal with separation anxiety. Sure, your dog is less likely to try to destroy the house, but it can still be quite dangerous since your dog may instead attempt to leave the crate which can hurt them in the process.

Separation anxiety is something that’s best rectified with the help of a professional dog trainer that knows what they are doing.

Crying in the crate

Dogs may cry in their crates, either to be let out because they need to eliminate or because they want to be out of the crate and near to you, especially during the night.

It’s important that you work out which one it is since that will help you to determine how you deal with the situation.

In some cases, they may simply be crying because they aren’t used to being left in the crate, and it may just mean that you need to work on some more training with them.

Do you let a puppy cry in the crate?

So should you let your puppy cry in the crate? In most cases yes – it’s best to leave them to cry in the crate, so long as they aren’t crying for you to let them eliminate.

If you have determined that they are crying simply because they aren’t used to the crate, it’s a good idea to allow them to cry. It will help them to soothe themselves and eventually they will end up stopping.

If you give them attention while they cry in the crate, they will recognize that this behavior works and will continue doing it.

How long will a puppy cry in a crate at night?

If you let a puppy cry in a crate at night, the amount of time that it takes for it to stop can depend on the dog.

If it’s their first time in the crate at night then it’s likely to be longer, since they aren’t likely to be used to it. In most cases though, they usually won’t cry for more than about 10 to 15 minutes, and they are likely to stop doing it after a couple of days if you handle the situation correctly.

Now you are ready to crate train your puppy

Crate training is a valuable asset for dog owners, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to do it with your dog. By following the guidelines mentioned above, your dog should be well crate trained in no time!

If you want to start with a free dog training course then you can start right now!

 

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