Top 10 Advantages & Tips of Crate Training.
First impressions are the most important. We humans have heard & experienced that in a variety of ways throughout our lives. When training a puppy, however, first impressions can determine the temperament & behavior of the dog you’re going to live with for the next 15 years! ALL of the experiences your puppy has, especially in the first 16 weeks, will make a huge impact on whether he/she becomes a confident, happy & outgoing dog, or a dog that is fearful, shy or even aggressive.
Introducing your puppy to his/her crate is no exception. In fact, it’s one of the first POSITIVE socialization experiences & training tools that will speed up & alleviate stress of housebreaking & teaching your puppy your house “rules” (like not chewing on the furniture, stealing your shoes, shredding paper products, tormenting other pets, etc.).
It’s to YOUR advantage, as well as your puppy’s safety, to introduce your puppy to his/her crate ASAP. When introduced correctly your puppy will be EXCITED to get into the crate, & will stay calm when you close the door & walk away… even for an extended period of time.
Top 10 Advantages of Crate Training:
Top 10 Tips for Crate Training
Do these & YOU will enjoy your dog MUCH more!
- Size matters! The crate should be just large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around and lay down. If it’s too big, your pup may eat & rest at one end and eliminate at the other.
- Save money! Buy the crate size your puppy will be at 1 year old. Many crates come with a divider wall so you can expand the area as your puppy grows. Most people like to use the crate for at least the first year.
- ALWAYS make the crate a positive experience. NEVER shove your puppy into it, close the door & walk away — especially if you’re frustrated! Dogs do NOT understand “time out”.
- Break down the introduction into short/sweet experiences. First goal: to get your puppy to just enter the crate willingly. Tossing treats into it works great! Don’t shut the door yet!!!! Ask a Professional Trainer to help you progress each stage of introduction. Going too fast may frighten your puppy and actually discourage it from going anywhere near the crate.
- Put your puppy’s favorite toys in the crate, leave the door open & let him/her go in/out while you supervise & praise. Ask a Professional Trainer for some fun games to play in & around the crate so your puppy enjoys going in on his own.
- Feed all of your puppy’s meals in his/her crate so he/she makes a positive association with the space. You may need to break this down into baby steps. Ask a Professional Trainer for help.
- Give your pup something to do in there! I highly recommend getting a couple Nylabones (bigger than you’d expect your dog to like), as well as Kongs with peanut butter spread on the outside & leading into a little chunk on the inside edge. (See picture.) These two brands are known to be safe to use when your puppy is unsupervised. HOWEVER, talk with a Professional Dog Trainer before giving them to your pup if you have any questions.
- Be mindful of where you place the crate. Ideally, it should be by the door you will use to take your puppy out to potty & on an easy-clean floor (your pup may dribble a bit when you get him out). Also place the crate away from direct sunlight & heat vents.
- Add some “curtains” by placing a large sheet over the crate. Many pups like it dark & quiet when they sleep. (I have other ways to make the crate curtains super handy, too!)
- DON’T place old blankets, shirts, etc. in the crate. Your puppy will likely shred any fabric or eliminate on it & cover it up. If he gets used to this, he’ll likely also shred similar textured items like stuffed toys, pet beds, your couch cushions/pillows, etc. I highly recommend using a Primo Pad. It offers thick, tough, dense cushioning, is easy to wipe clean & has no edges or stitching that your pup can chew. Be sure to measure your crate before ordering one; each is custom fit for the various size of crates available. (Take out the bottom plastic tray & put the Primo Pad down instead for a snug fit.)
Important Overall Tip:
YOU must have a positive attitude about the crate and be REALLY happy with your puppy every time he/she enters it.
- Toss in a small but SPECIAL treat each time your put your puppy in the crate! This special treat should be something your pup absolutely LOVES & is only given when entering & staying quiet in the crate. (Hint: The first few days, I keep several cooked chicken breasts in the frig & toss a small piece in every time I place my pup into the crate.)
- DO NOT let your pup out of the crate when he/she is fussing. If you do this even once, your pup learns that making noise — whining, barking, slamming against door, etc. — makes YOU open the door. Who’s training who?
If you aren’t sure how to introduce your new puppy to a crate, find a Professional Trainer to help you. Remember, first impressions are the most important!