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The Ultimate Guide to Crate Training Your Adorable Puppy: Building a Happy Home Together

young puppy playing outside with ball gets exercise before crate training

Everyone loves puppies! Getting a puppy is a great experience but it can also have a few mishaps along the way. Your puppy will need your guidance for learning new things and how to behave in certain situations (ie. no jumping on guests). If you are a new pet parent, you may need to find professional support. We also have a blog on puppy training basics that may help you get started.

Below, we will we will discuss the benefits of crate training your puppy and best practices in training your puppy to love their crate. Crate training is a valuable tool that not only aids in housebreaking but also provides a safe and cozy haven for your four legged baby. Whether you're a first-time puppy owner or looking to enhance your training techniques, join us on this journey as we unlock the secrets to successful crate training and create a happy home for both you and your beloved pup.

Benefits of Crate Training

Crate training can offer several benefits for both you and your dog. We will discuss reasons why you might consider crate training your dog below.

Crate training puppies

Safety and Security

A crate provides a secure and confined space for your dog when you are unable to supervise them. It prevents them from accessing potentially dangerous areas of your home or getting into hazardous objects. Crating can also help prevent getting into the trashcan, kids rooms with children's toys, and ripping up the toilet paper in the bathroom.

Housebreaking and Potty Training

Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their sleeping area clean. Using a crate can aid in housebreaking and potty training by teaching your dog to hold their bladder and bowels until they are taken outside. It helps establish a routine and reduces the likelihood of accidents in the house.

Preventing Destructive Behavior

Dogs, especially puppies, can be prone to destructive chewing or getting into mischief when left unsupervised. A crate can act as a controlled environment, limiting their access to your belongings and preventing destructive behavior. It also helps them learn appropriate chew toys and items.

dog in crate for safety during traveling

Travel and Transport

Crate training makes it easier to transport your dog, whether it's a trip to the veterinarian, traveling in a car, or flying on an airplane. Many airlines require dogs to be crated during flights for their safety and the safety of other passengers.

Transition and Adjustment

A crate can help your dog adjust to new environments, such as when staying in a hotel or visiting friends and family. Having their familiar crate can provide a sense of comfort and security in unfamiliar surroundings.

Rest and Relaxation

Dogs need their own designated space where they can relax, sleep, and have downtime. A crate can serve as a cozy den-like space where your dog feels comfortable and can retreat to when they need some peace and quiet.

Management and Training

Crate training can aid in managing your dog's behavior and facilitating training. It allows you to control their access to certain areas or activities and prevents them from engaging in unwanted behaviors. It can also help with teaching commands, such as "crate" or "bed."

Remember, crate training should always be done in a positive and humane manner. The crate should be a safe and comfortable space that your dog willingly goes into and views as their own den.

How to Choose the Right Crate for Your Puppy

The crate should be a comfortable and inviting space for your puppy, so introduce it gradually and associate positive experiences with it. Over time, with proper training and acclimation, your puppy will come to view the crate as their cozy den and safe haven. When choosing a crate, you should keep in mind of the size, material, safety features, and more. Below is a detailed list of more features to look for.

puppy enjoying crate time

Size of the Crate

Choose a crate that provides enough space for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. However, avoid getting a crate that is excessively large, as it may encourage your puppy to eliminate in one corner.

If you choose a crate that fits your puppy now, you may need to buy another size down the road that will accommodate their new size. You can also opt for a crate with an adjustable divider panel to accommodate your growing puppy.

Crate Material

Crates are typically made from metal wire, plastic, or fabric. Metal wire crates offer good visibility, ventilation, and durability. Plastic crates provide a cozy and den-like environment, but make sure they have proper ventilation. Fabric crates are lightweight and portable, suitable for travel, but may not be as sturdy as other options.

Safety Features

Ensure that the crate has secure latches or locks to prevent your puppy from escaping. The crate should be sturdy and well-constructed to avoid any hazards. Check often for sharp edges or protrusions that could harm your puppy.

Easy to Clean

Look for a crate with a removable tray or bottom that makes cleaning and maintenance convenient. Accidents or spills can occur, so choose a crate with materials that are easy to wipe or wash.

Portability and Storage

If you plan to travel with your puppy or need to move the crate around frequently, consider a crate that is foldable or collapsible for easy transport and storage.

puppy running outside before crate training

Consider Your Puppy's Temperament

Some puppies may feel more secure in a crate with more coverage and privacy, such as plastic or fabric crates. Others may prefer the visibility and airflow provided by a wire crate. Observe your puppy's behavior and preferences to guide your choice.

Consult with a Professional

If you're unsure about which crate would be most suitable for your puppy, consult with a veterinarian, professional dog trainer, or experienced pet store staff for guidance and recommendations based on your puppy's breed and size.

How to Crate Train Your Puppy

Crate training is an effective method for housebreaking and providing a safe and comfortable space for your puppy. Here are some best practices for crate training puppies:

Introduce the Crate Gradually

Start by placing the crate in a common area of your home and leave the door open. Allow your puppy to explore the crate at their own pace without any pressure.

puppy in crate with favorite bed for comfort

Make the Crate Inviting

Add soft bedding, toys, and treats inside the crate to create a positive association. You can use blankets or towels that have your scent on them to provide comfort.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Encourage your puppy to enter the crate by tossing treats or toys inside. Praise and reward them when they willingly go inside or show any signs of being comfortable near the crate.

Associate the Crate with Positive Experiences

Feed your puppy near the crate, gradually moving the food bowl closer to the crate's entrance. This helps your puppy develop a positive association with the crate. Eventually, you can feed your puppy in the crate. You can feed every meal in the crate because it's their safe, happy space.

puppy with kong toy will be entertained during crate time

You can also add kong treats, lick mats and other puzzles to keep your puppy entertained in the crate. While they are busy with their snacks, you can get things done around the house knowing they are safe and happy.

Gradually Increase Crate Time

Start with short periods of time with the crate door closed while you're present. Slowly increase the duration as your puppy becomes more comfortable. Never leave your puppy alone in the crate for extended periods, especially when they are young.

Establish a Routine

Set a schedule for crate time, including meals, playtime, potty breaks, and naps. Consistency helps your puppy understand when it's crate time and reduces anxiety.

Don't Use the Crate for Punishment

The crate should be a positive and safe space for your puppy. Using it for punishment can create negative associations and hinder the training process.

Ignore Whining or Barking

puppy in crate whining while crate training

Your puppy should be comfortable enough in their crate and shouldn't need to whine and bark when the gate is closed. However, if your puppy whines or barks while in the crate, avoid giving them attention. Responding to their noise can reinforce the behavior. Instead, wait for a moment of silence and then reward and praise them for being calm.

Be sure the barking and whining is not an emergency or they need to go to the bathroom. If you know that it is not these two things, you should continue to ignore them until they calm down. Do not punish them while they are in the crate. This will create a negative experience and aversion to the crate.

Provide Physical and Mental Stimulation

Make sure your puppy receives plenty of exercise, playtime, and mental stimulation outside the crate. A tired and mentally stimulated puppy is more likely to relax and settle in the crate.

Gradual Transition to Free Roaming

puppy outside of the crate on a rug in the house

As your puppy becomes more reliable and house-trained, you can gradually increase their freedom by allowing supervised free time outside the crate. However, always monitor their behavior and gradually increase the time to ensure they are ready for it.

Remember, crate training requires patience and consistency. Each puppy is unique, so adjust the training approach according to their individual needs. If you encounter any difficulties or concerns, consult with a professional dog trainer or a veterinarian for guidance.

Challenges You May Face When Crate Training

Crate training can present some challenges, especially in the early stages. Understanding these common challenges can help you prepare and address them effectively. Here are some challenges you may encounter during crate training:

Whining or Barking

Some puppies may initially protest being confined in the crate by whining, barking, or scratching at the door. This behavior can be a result of anxiety or a desire for attention. It's important to resist the urge to give in to their demands or let them out when they're exhibiting this behavior, as it can reinforce the unwanted behavior.

dog not happy with crate training

Fear or Aversion to the Crate

Some puppies may show fear or resistance towards the crate initially. This can be due to unfamiliarity or negative past experiences. It's essential to introduce the crate gradually and make it a positive and inviting space by using treats, toys, and praise.

Accidents in the Crate

Young puppies may have accidents in the crate, especially if they haven't developed full bladder and bowel control. Accidents can also happen if the crate is too large, allowing them to eliminate in one corner. Consistent potty training and taking your puppy outside frequently can help minimize accidents.

Difficulty With Alone Time

Some puppies may struggle with being alone in the crate, especially if they have separation anxiety. They may become anxious, vocalize, or engage in destructive behavior. Gradually increasing the duration of crate time and using techniques like desensitization and counterconditioning can help them feel more comfortable being alone.

puppy crate training trying to get out

Crate Aversion or Escape Attempts

In some cases, puppies may develop a strong aversion to the crate or try to escape by chewing or digging. This can be a sign of stress or discomfort. Reassess the crate's size, comfort, and placement to ensure it's appropriate for your puppy. Providing additional mental and physical stimulation outside the crate can also help reduce their anxiety.

Resistance to Entering the Crate

Initially, your puppy may hesitate or refuse to enter the crate. It's crucial to use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats or toys, to encourage them to go in willingly. Avoid forcing or dragging them into the crate, as it can create negative associations.

To overcome these challenges, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key. It's also important to tailor your training approach to your puppy's individual needs and consult with a professional dog trainer or veterinarian if you encounter persistent difficulties.

Puppy Training and Acupressure

Training your puppy may be difficult, but you can enhance your puppy's ability to remember and stay focused with acupressure. You can read our blog about enhancing dog training with acupressure here.

puppy enjoying acupressure session for crate training

We also teach acupressure classes in the Greater Charlotte area! If you are local, look for us at your local brewery or pet store! We offer themed classes so you can choose the class that fits your pup the best: anxiety, allergies, tummy upsets and more! Acupressure is preventative and all dogs can benefit! Even if your pup does not have allergies, you can take an allergies class to prevent them from developing allergies!

Or, you can book a session! Sessions are tailored to each animal and are roughly an hour long. Our Nationally Certified Canine Acupressure Practitioners will provide a relaxing, beneficial session for your pup! Remember, acupressure is preventative! So, all dogs can enjoy a session.

puppy enjoying crate time during crate training

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