If you have a puppy, or if you’re thinking of adopting one soon, you may find yourself wondering how to go about puppy crate training. Crate training is an important part of puppy obedience that can make the rest of your puppy’s training and growing experience that much easier, but it can also be a challenge at first.
In the article below, you’ll find several tips that can help you and your puppy both achieve success with crate training. With the help of this information, your puppy will be well on her way to behaving better and staying in her crate peacefully, too.
It’s always important to remember that if you have any questions about your pet’s overall care or health, you should consult with a veterinarian. They can help guide you in the best direction, and will be able to provide additional pieces of advice to help both you and your puppy with training.
Below are 6 tips to keep in mind about puppy crate training:
1. Start Small with the Size of the Crate
Start with a crate that is small enough for your dog, but gives her enough room to be comfortable. Your dog should be able to turn around in the crate, but should not have so much room that she can walk to one end, go potty, and then sleep curled up on the other end.
By limiting your dog’s crate space, you can prevent her from going potty where she sleeps. Dogs naturally will hold it longer if they aren’t able to get out of their sleeping space to go to the bathroom, so you’ll be giving your dog a head start by choosing a small enough crate.
2. Reward Your Puppy with Treats When She Does Something Right
The first time your dog goes into her crate, give her plenty of treats through the bars. Over time, you don’t have to give treats the whole time your dog stays in her crate, but she may still need one or two treats of encouragement for going in and letting you shut the crate door behind her.
The more treats you give your dog throughout the puppy crate training process, the more likely she will be to associate the crate with something good, rather than with punishment or confinement.
3. Start with Keeping Your Puppy in Her Crate for Shorts Amount of Time
A very young puppy should not be left in a crate for several hours at a time. Your puppy will probably only be able to handle one or two hours at most in her crate, even during the night when you’re trying to sleep.
Be prepared to get up, let your puppy out of her crate to do her business, and put her right back in the crate again during the night.
With time, your dog will be able to stay in the crate for a little bit longer before she needs to go potty. She should never be left all day and night in her crate, even if you are at work, however—even if she can hold it.
4. Try Crate Desensitization Games
Crate desensitization games can help your dog learn that the crate isn’t anything to be afraid of. Try tossing some toys into the crate now and then so your dog can enter, grab the toy, and exit without being “trapped” inside. You can get the same effect by hiding some treats in the crate and waiting for your dog to find them, too.
With a little practice, your dog will come to realize that the crate is a safe space for her, and it isn’t something scary or bad that she needs to fear.
5. Try Frozen Treats
Another helpful puppy crate training tip to consider is to try frozen treats.
Frozen treats can help your dog calm down and redirect her negative feelings about being put in her crate. Kong toys are one of the best options for this type of crate treat, since they can hold a lot at one time. Fill a rubber Kong toy with peanut butter, easy cheese, or liquid dog treats, and then freeze it until the treat turns hard.
Try giving your dog frozen Kong toys while she’s in the crate, then leaving the house for a short time. Although she may whine a bit, the frozen treat will redirect her attention and help her stay calm while no one is at home with her.
6. Don’t Use Your Puppy’s Crate as a Form of Punishment
Finally, do not use the crate as a punishment. Your dog needs to realize that she is not in trouble when she goes in the crate, but is instead simply expected to settle down and take a nap.
If you associate the crate with punishment, your dog will become afraid or avoidant of it. This will set you and your dog back a long way with puppy crate training, so it’s best to help your dog stay comfortable with the crate from start to finish.
Talk to a Vet for More Tips on Puppy Crate Training
By following these tips, you can give your puppy a better chance at succeeding with her crate training. Although it may take a long time for you and your puppy to get into the groove of crate training, a little persistence and effort can make a big difference.
If you have any further questions or concerns about puppy crate training, talk to your vet or a professional trainer for more information. At OrlandoVets, our team is here to offer expert advice and guidance on the best way to move forward with your pet’s training. You can call any of our locations, or request an appointment online to come see us.
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