How to Crate Train Your Puppy

It isn’t punishment to put your puppy in a crate. In fact, dogs often prefer to sleep in small, enclosed places. Here’s how to get them accustomed to their own private room...

 

Why Crate Training?

If trained right, he’ll spend time in the crate when you’re out of the house, which will set some boundaries as well as keep him from going potty on the carpet: dogs don’t usually like to go in the same place they sleep. (Click here to learn how to deal with puppy separation anxiety.)

 

Choosing a Crate

This is easy. You want it to be small, but not small enough to force him into one position. He should have enough room to stand up and turn around. Any bigger and he might use one end to relieve himself and the other end to sleep. Make sure to use a pad or blanket to make the crate comfortable.

 

Practicing Training

  • Introduce your pup to the crate in a low-pressure situation, not when you’re about to leave. Toss in a treat or kibble and praise the puppy when he enters the crate. Keep the door open so he can move around and explore.
  • Remove his collar before you put him in the crate. You don’t want him getting stuck on anything, especially if you have a metal crate.
  • Put a treat in the crate and use a simple word like “kennel” to get him used to the command.
  • For some positive association, try feeding your puppy in the crate.
  • Slowly increase the time your puppy spends in the crate with the door closed. Start by closing it for only a few moments and then work your way up. Make sure to praise him while the door is closed.
  • Don’t open the door if he starts to whine. That will only teach him that when he whines he gets out of the crate.
  • The rule of thumb for determining the length of time your puppy can stay in the crate is one hour per month of age, plus one hour. So, if your puppy is 5 months old, he can stay in for 6 hours.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: No matter his age, do NOT leave him in his crate for more than 8 hours. It’s unfair to leave him in for that long without letting him exercise or relieve himself.
  • BE CONSIDERATE, BE KIND: Remember, the longer he is confined the more exercise he’ll need. So never use it as a way to avoid spending time with your puppy.
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