How to Crate Train Your Puppy in 5 Easy Steps

You’ve just brought your new puppy home, and now you’re frantically looking for tips on how to best house train your new bundle of fur (you’ve even asked your mom—she potty trained you, after all). You may have come across ‘crate training’ in your quest to become the Toilet Training Master, but you’re not sure what it is, or where to begin.

Well, your search is over. Here’s everything you need to know about crate training your puppy.

What is crate training?

Crate training is when pet parents give puppies their own spot to enjoy that’s separate from the rest of the house. It’s used as a tool to housetrain your puppy and prevent them from forming any bad habits, such as digging up the couch. The key is to create a safe and comfortable space where your puppy can play, eat and sleep without being bothered, or getting into trouble.  

Is crate training cruel?

People often think about crate training as a cruel way to imprison your dog when you’re lazy and “don’t want to deal with them”—but it’s not about that. When used correctly, crate training offers your best fur-iend much-needed safety, security and happiness. Imagine a space where you have all your favourite food, toys and creature comforts in a designated area where NO ONE bothers you.

You’re essentially offering your puppy a safe and quiet space they can retreat to when they’re tired of playing or when they’re escaping the sounds of fireworks and thunderstorms. It’s also a pawsome way to housetrain your pup, as they don’t want to “go” where they sleep or eat, so they hold everything in for a bit longer. This strengthens their bladder and bowel muscles, making potty training an absolute breeze.

What do you need to crate train your puppy?

There are a few things you need before crate training your puppy:

A crate

This may sound obvious, but you’re going to need a crate. A bit less obvious is the size of the crate you’ll need. Look for one that’s a good fit for your pup. It needs to be large enough for your puppy to comfortably stand, turn around and lie down in, but not bigger than that.

If you buy one that’s too big, you risk giving your pup space to pee or poo in far away corners, which defeats the purpose of housetraining. 

Bedding


Try to avoid bedding that is too cushion-y or plush. These beds make it difficult to tell whether or not they’ve made an accident, as the fabric absorbs it quite quickly. Rather get a pet mat that’s comfortable but not tempting enough to rip apart.

Puppy training pads


Training pads show your puppy where to do business upon being let out. Place these little life-savers in designated areas, such as the grass outside, to show where nature is truly calling. Avoid placing them inside the crate as the whole point is to housetrain your dog to go outside or wherever you s. Use a puppy training spray to encourage your pup to go on the pad.

Toys


Your puppy is going to need a tasty distraction when acclimating to the crate. Not only that, but with all that hopped up energy, you’d rather have your pup chew the toy as opposed to the bed. Dog toys that are rough and tough and ready to be stuffed with treats are ideal.

Be sure to test the durability before leaving your furry little ball of teeth alone with any toy, as it could be a choking hazard. Do not leave your puppy alone with it for more than two hours.

Treats:

Choose a tail-wagging puppy treat that can fit inside a durable treat toy. Seal the deal with a bit of Doggie Peanut Butter, and watch your best friend play for hours in the crate while trying to get the tasty snacks. You also want treats that you can reward your pup with for good behaviour.

Positive reinforcement works best when training dogs and puppies (it’s also a good way to get them inside the crate when they’re being stubborn).

Where should you place your puppy’s crate? 

During the day, put your puppy’s crate in a quiet space. Ideally, you’ll want to put it in either the dining area or living room. Do not place the crate in a room that’s entirely separate from the household. Dogs are social creatures, and they might get lonely or depressed.

Place the crate in your bedroom at night so that you can hear your puppy cry to go out. Getting two crates is ideal, especially if you have a larger breed. You don’t want to lug the crate to and from your bed and the living room.

5 Steps to Crate Training Your Puppy 

Step 1: Introduce your puppy to the crate

Start off slow by first placing your puppy in front of the crate. Allow for some sniffing and exploring action to ensue. When things appear calm, place a treat inside to see if your pup will go in. If your puppy goes inside, celebrate by rewarding the behaviour with a treat.

This will teach your pup that the crate is good. Throw in a durable treat toy stuffed with scrumptious snacks to see if your pup will play inside the crate. Don’t close the door right away though, as your puppy may feel trapped and start to panic. 

Step 2: Make the crate a happy place for your puppy

Speaking of emotions, you want to make the crate a safe and happy place for your puppy. In saying that, do not punish your puppy during training. This makes your pup associate negatively with any kind of lessons you’re trying to teach.

Place a comfortable crate mat inside, as well as a tough treat toy. Your puppy’s meals should happen inside the crate, as this allows your pup to connect “happy meal time” to “crate”. Try playing some crate games, like throwing a ball inside the crate and playing fetch. Anything that will help your puppy see that the crate is not evil.

Step 3: Condition your puppy to stay in the crate

Once your puppy is a bit more used to the crate, you can leave them inside with the door closed. Start off by leaving your pup for 30 minutes. Prepare the treat toy and make sure everything is comfy, cosy before starting the timer.

Once everything is prepared, your puppy is inside and the door is closed, wait in the room for 30 minutes. Do not let your puppy out for anything. Potty time should happen BEFORE crate training, and directly after. 

Step 4: Keep an eye on the time

Do not leave your puppy in the crate for hours on end. Puppies’ bladders are small, and although crates help strengthen their bowels, they’re not made of steel. Puppies’ “holding” time equates directly to their age. For example, if your puppy is 4 months old, that means the holding time is only 4 hours. This means your pup should only be in the crate for that long.

You can gradually increase the time as your puppy gets older and more used to the crate. Start slowly, by leaving your puppy in and then stepping around the corner for 10 minutes. If your pup is content, you can try doing this for longer periods. Start at 10 minutes, go to 30 minutes, and eventually, an hour.

Once your puppy is happy to stay in the crate without you in the room for two hours, try leaving the house for the same length of time. If things are fine and dandy when you get home (your puppy isn’t anxious or pacing), then WOOHOO! You’ve just crate trained your puppy. 

Step 5: Reward your puppy

Throughout your training, do not forget to reward your puppy for good behaviour. Give your pup a treat every time they go inside the crate (just in the first few weeks). Your puppy should also be eating meals inside the crate. If your pup is too scared, try placing the meal next to it, then inside it and eventually all the way at the back of the crate.

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