Crate training your first dog can be difficult without any guidance. It's important to understand how to properly train your pup to prevent causing them unwanted stress or developing bad behaviors while in the crate.
In this article, we'll walk you through the basics of crate training and share some tips for how you can get your puppy used to their new space.
How to start crate training
After getting an appropriately sized crate for your dog, the first step is getting them acquainted with it. You'll want to make sure that your pup associates the crate with positive experiences, or the training process may feel like a punishment to your pooch. Give your pet some encouragement to explore the crate by tossing toys or treats near the crate.
You shouldn't force your dog inside the crate. Instead, gradually desensitize them to the space by leaving the door open and allowing your pooch to freely enter on their own terms. As your dog grows more comfortable with entering, you can place treats further inside the container. Make sure the door is secure to prevent it from accidentally hitting and spooking your pup as they enter.
How to potty train your puppy with a crate
When potty training your puppy, you should make sure the crate is properly sized. Large crates will provide your pooch with enough space to designate a corner for using the bathroom, so you'll want to either purchase a smaller container or use a divider to reduce the crate's space.
Your pup will let you know when they need to go to the bathroom by whining or scratching around their crate. Immediately, take them to their usual bathroom area to ensure your furry friend doesn't accidentally relieve themselves in the crate. Puppies have much smaller bladders than adult dogs, which means you'll need to pay close attention to when they have to go again.
How to train a puppy to stay in a crate
If your puppy has been properly acquainted with their crate, they can start eating meals from inside the container. When they're comfortable enough to stand in the crate while they eat, you can begin to keep the door closed. Extend the time the door stays shut with each meal until they can spend about 10 minutes inside the crate without feeling anxious.
Once they feel comfortable consuming their meals in the crate, you may move on to the next step. Command your pup into the crate and give them a treat for obeying. Close the door to the container and stay with them for a few minutes. You can then leave the room for a short period and return to let your pooch out. The process should be repeated multiple times per day, with slight increases to the time you spend outside the room.
How to train a puppy to sleep in a crate
Give your pup a command to enter the crate and hand them a treat for complying. You can then close the door to the crate and leave your puppy inside to sleep for the night. It's recommended to keep their crate inside your room in case they need to relieve themselves.
However, sometimes your dog will whine as a way of trying to get out of the crate, instead of telling you they have to use the bathroom. Ignore the initial bout of whining to see if your puppy really needs to pee or is just trying to play. If the whining continues, use their typical bathroom command and gauge their response. Make sure to take them straight to their potty area and back to the cage afterward.
Puppy crate training schedule
There are notable differences between how you should train your puppy during the day and at night. Understanding when to use each approach will help you train your pup effectively and avoid making mistakes.
How to crate train a puppy during the day
If you intend on crate training your four-legged friend during the day, you should leave your dog alone in the house for a short period to help them grow adjusted to the crate. Keep your pet preoccupied by leaving a few chew toys inside, and avoid exciting your dog with enthusiastic behavior when you come home.
How do you crate train a puppy at night?
Be sure to let your puppy use the bathroom before entering their crate for the night. While at some point, they'll need to be let out again to do their business, relieving your pet before going to bed will make it easier to differentiate between whining for a toilet break and whining to get outside the crate. Giving your dog attention as they whine will only encourage the behavior, so try to establish a consistent bathroom routine at night to avoid false signs.