Last updated on February 24th, 2015 at 02:19 pm
A common mistake that pet owners make when crate training a new puppy is to use it as a form of punishment and another is to force the animal to remain in it for too long. Both cause the young dog toreject the crate, resulting in unhappy people and dogs who never get to know the safety and security of a crate. Fortunately, there are easy ways to slowly get your pet used to the crate and eventually, you can expect them to seek it out on their own.
Step #1-Understand Why You’re Crating
As a responsible pet-owner, it’s first necessary to know why you are introducing your puppy to the crate. Typically, there are three reasons:
- Providing a quiet space to the puppy, when they seem overwhelmed
- To prevent chewing or other destructive behavior in your absence
- To encourage house-training
It is easy to forget that if you have a young puppy, the noise, lights and smells of new people can be interesting, but also overwhelming. Therefore, providing them with a comfortable space, with appropriate blankets and pillows, can help them maintain an even temperament. Eventually, they will learn to seek out their crate as a source of comfort.
Obviously, one of the more obvious problems with canines of any age, but particularly with puppies, is their tendency to chew. Second to that, is their often dangerous habit of getting into trash cans and damaging household items. Although crate training does not take place overnight and dog sitters or dog daycare may be necessary for a while to prevent damage to your home when you are gone, eventually a well-trained dog will spend much of its time in the crate while alone.
Finally, crate training takes advantage of their natural desire to avoid making a mess where they stay. It is important to point out that some dogs are easier to house-train than others, but few want to stay in a crate where they have voided their bowels. Therefore, after spending time in their crate, you can encourage their house-training with a trip outside and liberal praise or other positive enforcement.
Step #2-Choose The Right Crate
Choosing the right crate for your dog does not have to be a huge endeavor and fortunately, crates areoften very affordable. In general, you should plan for your dog to be able to comfortably stand up in and turn around.
However, if your puppy is little today, but you know that they are unlikely to stay small, you can get a larger crate to accommodate their size later on. However, if you do so, it is a good idea to close off one end of it, so you can still provide them with the cozy feeling that a snug crate should provide. It is also helpful to remember that if the crate is too big, they may not see it as a home that should not be “messed” in, so the house-training benefit of a crate might not occur.
The three common types of crates are plastic, fabric on a folding frame and the folding frame by itself. If you travel frequently and plan to have your dog with you, it will be a good idea to consider the plastic frame. Although less convenient because it does not break down, it’s required by some airlines and may also be safer when transporting.
The fabric on a folding frame is often just decorative, but you should verify that the fabric is easy to remove for cleaning. A folding frame itself is a basic unit and serves the need for a crate without extra decoration.
Step #3-Understanding The Crating Process
Introducing your pet to the crate is a process that can take a few days or a few weeks, depending on their age, experience with crates and how it is done. Make no mistake, forcing a puppy into the crate or requiring them to be in for prolonged periods of time right away is a terrible idea. A negative association with the crate could cause them to never seek it out on their own.
Use of the crate in an area where other family members are encouraging them to use it. If you live alone, you may even want to move it from the bedroom to the living room throughout the day, to promote an on-going familiarity with it. Clean towels, soft blankets, pillows and appropriate food even treats can be placed into it to further inspire them to enter it.
Always be sure to leave the door open at the start of training and not make them feel trapped once they are in it. Remember, you are setting the pace for their training and if you see the crate as a happy, comfortable place, your puppy is likely to follow your lead.
Step#4-Feed (and Water) Your Puppy In The Crate
If your puppy is choosing to seek out the crate, you can encourage their behavior by placing the food and water bowl near the back of the crate, requiring them to go further into it and then spend time eating. If your pet is still a bit timid, you can place the bowl immediately inside the door, but too far away for them to access it without entering.
While they are eating, you can start closing the door. At first, just while they are eating will be sufficient, but gradually increase the amount of time they are in the crate with the door closed. It is crucial to observe their behavior while doing so, which allows you to open the door if they become upset. Again, the last thing you want is to inspire negative reactions to the crate.
Slowly, you will be able to leave them in the crate for longer periods of time, without food or your presence as a distraction.
Step#5- Increase the Amount of Time They Spend in the Crate
As time goes by, it will be possible to leave them in the crate, with the door closed and without your visible presence, for brief periods of time. By observing their behavior upon your return, you can estimate as to when you can leave them there longer.
As an animal become more comfortable with crating and has adequate bladder control, it can become like their bedroom at night. When they are ready to sleep, they are put in the crate. To prevent messy cleanups, it is often best to keep the crate nearby at night at first, so you can take them outside as the need arises. As your dog matures, you can relocate their crate to a different area of the home, if you prefer.
In conclusion, crate training a puppy allows them to mature into a more secure and better-trained animal. Although the process is not always quick or easy, the results are generally very positive for both the dog and their human family.