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How To Crate Training a Puppy


Eventually you are going to have to leave the puppy unattended during certain times of the day. In anticipation of this, crate training is a way to provide peace of mind for both you and your pup. If done properly, crate training can provide your pup with a haven-like den where he can go to get away; it will prevent destructive habits from forming when you are unable to keep a close eye on your pup; it will allow your dog to travel more safely in the car; and it can be a wonderful aid to housebreaking. Some people feel it is cruel to confine a dog to a crate. If a crate were used as a form of punishment or if a dog was immediately put into a crate for long periods of time, a dog would probably come to resent a crate. But, if introduced and used correctly, most dogs will come to view a crate as his private, special den.

Also, many dogs are turned into the pound because of damage they do while unattended. So which is crueler, having a dog euthanized because of preventable destructive behavior or crate-training a pup and eliminating problem behavior before it starts? The choice is yours. If your pup needs to be left alone for more than a few hours before he is properly crate-trained, you will need to find a larger, safe, secure area for him to stay in where he has a place to potty away from his sleeping area. Later, as the dog matures and he is comfortable with his crate, you will be able to leave him unattended in his crate for up to 4-6 hours at a stretch. If you use a crate during puppyhood and the dog is taught good behavior habits from the start, you may find that later you may not even need to use the crate at all, except maybe for certain situations like traveling, etc. It is very important that your pup’s first exposure to his crate be very positive. Take your time, be patient, and follow these guidelines carefully, and you will have a dog that will come to respect and actually even like his crate.

Make sure you get a crate that will accommodate your dog’s size when it is full-grown. The crate should be large enough for the dog to comfortably stretch out on his side and be able to stand up and turn around without hitting his head on the roof.

Initially set up the crate with the pup out of the room, so as not to startle him with it.

Place the crate in an area where it is out of the way but still close to family activity so the pup will not feel excluded when he has to be confined.
If the crate is made of open wire, place a blanket or sheet around it to create a den-like atmosphere and to reduce drafts in the winter.

Be careful about putting blankets or towels inside the crate. Dogs actually prefer a hard, cool surface to lie on, especially in the summer. A piece of peg board cut to size makes a great smooth floor inside the crate, and a piece of carpet cut to size will provide a little extra warmth in the winter.

The first few days you use the crate you may want to take the door off so the pup doesn’t accidentally get shut in. ? Initially start by feeding the pup just outside the crate.

Between meals, throw a few biscuits and toys inside the crate; allow the pup to watch you do this. Praise the pup whenever he goes into the crate to investigate or to retrieve his goodies.

After a few days, put the pup’s food bowl just inside the crate. Do not force the pup to go in to eat; allow him all the time he needs to venture in on his own. Praise him softly when he does go in to eat so as not to distract him or to make a really big fuss over the process. If the door is still on the crate, again take care to see that it does not accidentally get shut.

When the pup is going in freely to eat, place his bowl at the back of the crate at the next feeding. Feed him this way, with the door open, for two or three meals.
Keep placing treats and toys in the crate in-between meals. ? Put the door back on the crate at this point. During the next feeding, put the bowl in the back of the crate and, after the pup goes in freely, shut the door quietly.

If the pup scratches, whines, or barks to get out, scold him in a firm voice saying ‘NO’;. If he continues to make a fuss, tap the front door grill and again firmly tell him ‘NO’;. If he still continues, completely ignore him. Leave the room for a little while until he eventually quiets down.
Only after the pup is quiet for 5 continuous minutes can you return and quietly let him out. Do not be over exuberant at this point because you may inadvertently encourage him to want to come out of him crate to get rewards.

Every time the pup is taken out of his crate, immediately take him outside to potty. You may want to carry him out initially so you don’t have an ‘accident’; along the way.

Also, make sure you always take the pup out to potty before confining him to his crate for any length of time.

You may want to start feeding outside the crate now, unless you plan on always feeding the dog in his crate.

Start putting the pup in the crate at times other than feeding times, and gradually increase the amount of time you leave the pup inside.

Leave a chew toy inside the crate for distraction.

Give the pup a key word each time you want him to enter the crate, i.e. crate, kennel, house, in. Whatever you will remember to use consistently. You may also want to point into the crate or tap the inside lightly or toss a biscuit into the back to help direct him inside. If he enters on his own without the use of a treat, give him a biscuit to reward his behavior. Soon he will eagerly run in when asked and will quickly turn around waiting for that cookie.

Establish a crate routine at this time, putting the pup in his crate at the same time each day. Try to choose times when the pup likes to take his naps. Dogs are creatures of habit, and by following the same pattern everyday you will find that a pup will quickly respond to the schedule that you set for him.

Do not leave the pup unattended in his crate until he is calm inside the crate for at least an hour.

Be careful that the pup’s collar is not loose enough or able to get caught on anything while inside the crate, or simply take the collar off when he is inside.
Never let a pup or dog out of his crate when he is acting up or you will encourage the behavior.


DO NOT LET THE KIDS USE THE CRATE AS A PLAYHOUSE!!! Remember the crate is the pups own private space where he can go to seek refuge or sleep undisturbed.

If the pup chooses to go into his crate on his own, respect his wish for privacy. Do not disturb him until he comes out on his own if possible, and under no circumstances should the children try to play with him when he has designated his own time-out!!!



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