How to Crate Train Your Puppy
It is an exciting time to bring a puppy into your life. The chance to build a bond and have the companion of your dreams is why you choose your puppy in the first place.
Telling everyone in your life the countdown is on for picking up your puppy and trying to prepare is your focus, but then comes the reality of being a new puppy parent. One of the decisions you have to make in dog training is if you want to crate train your new puppy.
Crate training a new puppy can have it’s ups and downs and you may feel like giving up if your puppy does not take to it right away. I wanted to write a blog post on how to crate train your puppy so you feel comfortable and know what to expect.
Too often you may watch youtube videos on crate training and it seems really easy, but every puppy, like every puppy parent, is different. It is not good to compare yourself nor your puppy to others.
Location of Your Crate
When deciding to crate train your puppy location is important and deciding where in your house, whether it be in the living room or your bedroom are ideal places. I would recommend if you can keep your puppy in a crate in another room nearby during the night that may be ideal.
Also if you are worried about leaving your puppy all alone then using a baby monitor in the room can give you a chance to watch your puppy without being near them.
One of the hard things is to stop yourself from doing is reacting to every sound your puppy is making as you will feel guilty for not helping he/she. I have one client who had a crate in her kitchen for during the day and at night her puppy would sleep in her crate in her bedroom.
Also, it depends on what you as the new puppy parent feels will be the best way for you to incorporate the crate into your routine with your puppy. Trying out a location that seemed like it would work, but did not is fine to do. The important thing about crate training is to be flexible as you and your puppy are learning together.
Type of Crate
I like a metal crate that has an easy bottom to clean up if your puppy has an accident which we know will happen. I think a double latch is a good idea as well as making sure the crate you buy is bigger as your puppy will continue to grow and we want he/she to have space to move in the crate.
Another thing to think about with your puppy is if they will try to escape out of their crate. Over the years I have had a couple clients puppies who were able to escape out of the crate leading to the possibility of having to secure the crate door more than they had anticipated.
I would recommend buying some clips to put on the crate door just to make sure when you leave everything is secured with your puppy. I like using clips as another way to secure the crate. A couple of my clients have used them to secure the crate as their puppy was very smart and was able to escape.
Here are two types of clips I would recommend having on hand for your crate:
Michael Josh 10PCS 3″ Carabeeners Carabiners Caribeaner Carabeaner Hook Clips,with 10PCS Wire Keychain + 10PCS Keyrings these clips are easy to put on and take off which I like especially with an excitable puppy wanting to get out.
these snaps are another great option that you may find easier to use. Plus the silver color is great to see from the actual metal of the crate.
You may think your puppy would not try but being prepared for the unexpected but puppies are all different and what you think will happen and what will happen can be two different things. Also, being prepared for the worse (even if it does not happen) will help to fix any issues that come up with crate training your puppy.
Here are some of the crates I would recommend:
This crate is great has the option of a single door or double door depending on your preference. Also, it has a pan on the bottom so it will be easier to clean up any accidents.
This crate has a covering around it which is another great feature to help your puppy when they are in the crate. The pan on the bottom and the ability to fold up for easy transport is nice too.
Bonus Tip: I would buy additional locks for your crate as your puppy could put another pressure on the crate door to get it open. This may seem impossible but I have experienced it with my clients and seen it first hand myself. You can never have to many locks on a crate with a puppy.
How Long should your Puppy Stay in the Crate
Keeping your puppy in a crate for eight hours is too long. The rule about keeping a puppy in a crate relates to how old they are and how long they can hold their bladder.
For example, if your puppy is two months old then that means your puppy can only hold it for two hours. Therefore, leaving them in the crate longer then that without a potty break will lead to a possible accident.
I know it may seem like too much to take in at first the schedule that you must be on to have success with crate training, but in the long term benefits will outweigh the short period of time that you have a puppy in your life.
Crate Training when You are at Work
It may seem like a challenge to crate train while you are at work but there are ways to make it happen. First of all, have a plan with everyone in your home as to who can or cannot come home and give your puppy a crate break.
Also, having great communication from everyone like texting when your puppy was put in the crate as well as if they urinated or poop can give you a window of how long you can work before your puppy needs another break.
I think checking with your employer and how flexible they are with you taking breaks to take care of your puppy is important. The last thing you want to do is upset your employer and being upfront of what issues you are having at home while being a new puppy parent will make you come across as a problem solver.
The other option is to have help, outside of your immediate family and friends, by hiring a professional dog walker. Having someone who will show up at a certain time and be reliable will help to stick with crate training schedule when you cannot be at home all the time.
Plus the relief you will feel having a dog walker who can keep the routine and added another way to socialize your puppy is essential. Make sure that your dog walker gives you text messages after each visit as well as when they left so you can figure out when you need to get home from work.
Related Post: How to Stop your Dog from Peeing in the House
How to get your Puppy to want to go in the Crate
The key to making your puppy want to go in the crate is to make the experience a positive one. Using treats, feeding he/she in the crate, as well as being patient will help a lot. Too often as new puppy parents we forget their is a learning curve and we have to meet our puppy where they are and go slow.
Another thing to avoid is just forcing your puppy into the crate as that will make it harder every time to actually put your puppy in the crate. Therefore, if it becomes difficult to put your puppy on your crate will lead you to stop trying all together.
I know crate training can test everyone’s patience but remember your puppy is still learning and what you hope will happen and what your puppy decides to do will usually be different. Also, give yourself plenty of time when working on the crate and not when you are rushed for time.
Tools to help you crate train your puppy:
As a new puppy parent it may seem overwhelming and confusing what tools will help make crate training your puppy be a success. Here are a couple tools I think will help in this process. Another thing to remember is everything good (meal times, toys for example) happens inside the crate.
You may be asking yourself if leaving a water bowl in the crate is a good idea. That depends on if you are going to be able to give your puppy potty breaks to minimize the chance of an accident. Also, the possibility of your puppy knocking the water bowl over is another possibility to think about.
Finally, a common new puppy parent mistake is to give a full bowl of water. The concern that your puppy will be thirsty while you are gone is understandable but the bladder of a puppy is not yet strong enough to hold it until you come home.
I have told my clients to give a little in a water bowl and to write down to know when it is time to get your puppy out.
Having a couple different treats is a great way to go and will help you figure out which one your puppy loves the most. Then you can only use that treat when working on crate training. Another thing to do with the treats is to break them up in small pieces and make them last longer.
Also, you may think the amount of treats you have is enough but in the beginning you will need more to make your puppy like going in the crate. It might be a good idea to have a basket or container (out of reach for your puppy) near the crate so that you can have access to it quickly and not interrupt the crate training.
Here are a couple treats I like to use:
Zuke’s – the link I shared is for chicken treats by Zuke’s but there are other flavors to try that your puppy will like.
Barn Roll – these rolls are big and can last for a while if you refrigerate them. Also, you can cut the roll up into small pieces and use with your puppy. I like keeping my treats in a ziploc bag or a reusable bag in the refrigerator. It makes it easy to grab them when training your puppy. The roll I chose to share is chicken flavored but they have other flavors like beef that your puppy may like.
Meal times in the crate using a kong is easy for you and your puppy. I would recommend doing a trial with a kong and your puppy to see if he/she will chew up the kong. Also, I have told my clients to try refrigerating the kong first before freezing it just to see how interested your puppy will be with it.
Here are some Kong Products I recommend:
Finally, if you go on Kong Company (who makes kongs) website you can find different filling recipes to try with your puppy. Here is the link to the website. Let me know if you found a recipe that worked with your puppy.
Related Post: How to Choose and Use Treats in Training Your Dog
If you are at work or in another room in your house and want to have a way to watch your puppy without them seeing you then a dog camera could be a great solution.
I have had a couple clients use cameras in their house to talk to their puppy or just see how they are doing. It will give you more comfort if you are nervous about your puppy when you are gone. Just keep in mind that these cameras can be expensive, but give you another option to watch your puppy.
Here are a couple dog camera options to look into:
Both of these cameras have different features that may or may not be what you are looking for with your puppy. I would decide what things are important with a dog camera and find one that meets your needs and that you are confident in working as well.
Often we buy things that look great but actually using them can be complicated. May simple dog camera is way better then one with different features you do not need or cannot use.
Should you put a blanket, bed, or toy in the crate with your puppy?
It may seem like a great idea to put things in the crate for your puppy, but I would say no in the beginning of crate training. The possibility of chewing things up as well as accidents in the crate will make things harder for you. Whether you are at work or home, unless you can give complete attention to your puppy, then these items should not be given yet until you have established a routine with the crate.
Trying one toy with your puppy in the crate, while at home to supervise, will give you a way to see what works in the crate and if your puppy starts to destroy the toy you can remove it right away.
I think of the process of adding more comfort inside the crate as one that takes time. Being flexible and willing to change things for your puppy will make this process easier. Your puppy wants to do the right thing but needs your help to know what exactly that is and going slow is better than fast with crate training.
Feeding your puppy in the crate as a way to make it the best place to be
Part of making the crate a positive experience is to do everything in it. Feeding each meal, giving a toy, or treat are some ways to make this happen.
Another thing you may not realize is where to position those items I mentioned above. If you can put the feeding bowl in the back of the crate or place the treats there it will make your puppy have to move farther in the crate to get them. I would start slow in positioning these items and give lots of praise to your puppy for making an effort.
Another thing that unintentionally happens as a puppy parent is wanting to shut the door when your puppy goes all the way in the crate. I want you to remember that this is a new experience for them and we cannot expect your puppy to be crate trained in a day.
Should the Crate be in Your Bedroom or Stay in Another Room?
I think the crate can be in your bedroom or in another room. The location of the crate is up to how you as a puppy parent wants to setup things from the start. I have a client who had her dog from puppy to adult in her crate in her room at night. On the other hand, this same client had another crate in her kitchen which she used too. Therefore, her dog was comfortable in the crate regardless of location. I think that is the best of both worlds.
Also, another thing to consider with location of the crate is if you can get things done like make a phone call or do some work without your puppy distracting you. I think the crate gives you a way to help your puppy be by themselves and not have to be around you all the time when you are home.
I would make a choice from the beginning with your puppy and stick to it. I know it is hard to hear a puppy whining or just their ability to make you want to give them all the attention, rather then take care of other things in your life. My main point is stick to the crate training in one location before changing your mind.
Scent of you in the Room/Adaptil-
Another thing you can do when your puppy is in the crate for the day or night is to have a t-shirt of your scent to help he/she feel like you are there with them. I would try this out while you are home to make sure your puppy does not chew up what you leave with he/she in the crate.
Besides using a t-shirt there is a product called Adaptil Calming Spray for Dogs (60 ml) that can help to calm your puppy in the crate. You could spray some in the crate, put it on the t-shirt or if you are able to put in on the dog bed or blanket could work as well.
Another option would be to spray some Adaptil on a bandana that could be worn around your puppy’s neck. Just keep in mind if your puppy would chew up the bandana then that might not be a good option.
The point of using Adaptil is to remind your puppy of their mom and give them another way to relax in the crate and get use to it in a positive way.
What to do if Your Puppy Whines in the Crate
I would first make sure your puppy is not whining because he//she has to go to the bathroom. Then I would not give your puppy any attention. It is hard for he/she to go from having your attention and care to being by themselves. I know this sounds counter intuitive when you want your puppy to know you care and are there for them.
Remember that it is important for your puppy to be okay by themselves whether you are there are not. The crate is your puppy’s safe place and it will take time. You are not a bad puppy parent and keep reminding yourself as I know it can be very emotional and filled with guilt as you go through the crate training process.
Playpen as a back up way to work on Crate Training
If you are feeling overwhelm by getting crate training going and your puppy is not taking to it as easily as you hoped I have another option for you. Having a playpen that can go around the crate will help keep your puppy secured while giving you some time to work on your puppy getting use to the crate.
MidWest Homes for Pets Folding Metal Exercise Pen / Pet Playpen is a one that is a nice one to use for your puppy.
Make sure you get the right size playpen so your puppy can not jump over it and get out. You may be surprised if this happen but with puppies anything is possible.
When Should I stop using the Crate with My Puppy?
You should never stop using the crate in an ideal world. It gives your puppy a place in your house, it can be used in your car or when guests come over to your house and you puppy needs a break.
You may feel like once your puppy has success with the crate that it may be a good time to give more freedom outside of the crate. However, giving your puppy too much freedom will lead to destruction in your house.
Remember you worked so hard with your puppy to do crate training that it should still be part of the routine everyday as well as adding more time out of the crate too. Also, it will be harder to crate train again if you stop doing it with your puppy.
Save yourself and your puppy time and having the crate as a safe place for your puppy is essential as you live your life together and all the activities and places you want to do or go with your puppy will be easier if you have a place your puppy loves to go and be okay by themselves.
Related Post: Three Ways to Have a Better Bond With Your Dog
Crate training should not Stop after you Master it and Should be a Part of your Puppy’s life as an Adult Dog too
Often some of my puppy clients start testing where there puppy can hangout in their house without the crate being there are leaving the door closed. I understand the need to graduate your puppy to more freedom in the house.
The crate training helps to give your puppy a safe place and helps to make life easier for you both. Once the routine of going in the crate has been established it saves you time, keeps your puppy safe, and makes your world open to guests, travel, and safety for you both.
If you want more freedom for your puppy then let it happen when you are in the house together to watch your puppy and have a great time together. However, as soon as you need to do things or go out then the crate offers a great way to keep your puppy ( and that adult dog you will have down the road) secure and not forced into it if you stop crate training.
Summary of Crate Training
In conclusion, crate training gives you as a puppy parent a chance to have a break as well as your puppy in a good way. Part of having a great relationship with your puppy is having he/she be okay by themselves and not destroy your house when work, family, and other obligations come up.
You will not have the puppy parent guilt of how to balance all the things in your life with your puppy. The crate gives you security and options so when you are busy your puppy is still safe from destroying things, and if an accident happens it is much easier to clean up in a crate then in your house.
I hope this blog post was helpful and if you have any questions or found it helpful then leave a comment below.
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