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Crate Training Tips

December 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Dogs

crate trainingThink of the crate as puppy’s own private room or den, and you will see why, when introduced correctly, dogs love their crates! To help make your puppy’s introduction to crate training a positive one, start by tossing a yummy treat into the crate and letting your puppy wander in to get it. Repeat this 8-10 times before closing the door for a few seconds. Gradually increase the duration of time that puppy is closed in the crate from a few seconds to a few minutes.

To keep puppy content in his crate, offer him an appropriate chew toy, such as a Kong stuffed with some reduced-fat peanut butter, apple sauce, or other yummy ingredients. Freezing the Kong will make it last longer. Better yet, offer this yummy toy/treat onlywhen puppy is in his crate.

The goal of crate training is to teach puppy that he can entertain himself and be alone without feeling panicked. It is important for puppy to sleep in his crate, and not in bed with you. Some crying will be expected, especially at first, but as long as you’re sure he doesn’t need to be let outside to potty, ignore his behavior. To help him feel a little less stressed, you can try covering the crate with a heavy blanket (keep in mind some puppies prefer a more open crate), playing some music or white noise, tucking a hot water bottle in a blanket with the puppy in the crate (make sure he doesn’t chew it up!), and either keeping the crate in the bedroom with you, or in another room within hearing distance (so puppy can tell you if he needs to go out in the middle of the night).  He does not need water overnight.
If puppy is having accidents in the crate, make sure the crate is an appropriate size. He should have enough room to get up, turn around, and lay down. If he’s still having accidents, you may be asking him to hold it too long, or his stress level is too high and he can’t “hold it”.  Consider creating a long-term confinement arrangement:

  • Choose a puppy-proofed room (bathroom, laundry room, etc.) or set up an exercise pen
  • Place puppy’s crate (leave open) in it
  • Offer entertaining toys (such as treat-stuffed Kong)
  • Offer an appropriate “bathroom” for puppy to use, such as a litterbox that has grass, or sod, in it. Pee pads are more likely to get shredded rather than used for their intended purpose.
  • Water should be available if puppy will be left alone more than 2 hours.

This will encourage puppy to keep his crate clean and will also facilitate house training.

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