Crate Training



Crate Training:



This is an important skill for your puppy to learn. Not only does it give them a safe space in your home where they can’t get into anything that could hurt them, it also helps with potty training, as most puppies prefer not to pee/poo where they sleep. In addition, this is a useful skill for the remainder of your dog’s life as they may need to be in a crate in the future for travel, at the vet, at a friend’s house, if they need to be restricted from activity due to injury, etc. 

Crate size: Should be big enough for puppy to stand up, turn around, lay down comfortably. It should not be so big as to allow puppy to pee/poo in one end and sleep in the other. Where to put the crate is another consideration. I recommend the bedroom, as it tends to be a quiet, out of the way place, and it allows you to hear puppy if they need to use the bathroom during the night. Even if you would rather have the crate elsewhere in the home eventually, I’d recommend starting with it in the bedroom.

Start by getting puppy used to entering and exiting the crate. With puppy beside you, throw a treat into the crate and encourage them to go and get it. Repeat this multiple times until puppy is comfortable dashing into the crate after their treat. Next step is once they dash in, close the door behind them, feed them treats through the door, then open the door and allow them to exit. NO treats/praise for exiting, only for entering/being in the crate. 

Once you have completed the above so puppy has had an orientation to the crate, you can start to think about leaving them in there for short periods of times – nap times are a GREAT start. When you can see puppy getting tired (starting to lay down/doze off) and they have been to use the bathroom already (if not take them for a pee/poo first), grab some treats and take them to their crate. Have them enter the crate and give them some treats, close the door and offer a few more treats. Note – if puppy is VERY excited by treats, use low value (maybe just pieces of their kibble) and only one or two for entering. We do not want to get puppy fired up again! Then sit with them until they settle in the crate, beside them but not looking directly at them (as this can signal to puppy that something exciting might be happening soon – it isn’t, you want them to sleep. Be boring, lol.) Provide soothing words, petting through bars, but DO NOT let them out of the crate when they are crying/barking/fussing. This is VERY IMPORTANT, it does NOT take many repetitions for a puppy to learn crying = let out of crate if allowed, and it takes a lot of remedial work to fix this. An exception is if it is a “I have to go to the bathroom” cry/whine, these usually happen at night for the first little while. In that case, very calmly and quietly take the puppy outside to use the bathroom (on a leash is best). Once they have done their business, calm praise, NO PLAYING and back to the crate they go. It is important to make this outing “business like” so they learn that the ONLY thing crying in the crate will lead to is bathroom opportunity, not playing, not engaging. 

As time goes on you will need to sit with them less and less for them to be able to settle. Also helpful if your dog is food motivated is providing them with a stuffed kong (or similar durable toy) to work on chewing/licking. Licking is a naturally calming behavior for dogs, so provided with a kong stuffed with some peanut butter/baby food/yogurt and then frozen (as an example, kong stuffing opportunities are endless! Check out youtube!) a pup could lick and chew at that for quite awhile, which will help them to settle in the crate. 

Note: be careful with adding bedding when puppies are young, some love to snuggle into cozy bedding – some want to shred and eat it which is a concern as that may lead to an intestinal blockage. You should never leave anything in the crate with puppy if you are worried they might ingest it, this includes toys/mats/blankets, etc. Only puppy-safe things are to be left in the crate with puppy.



**The above information was taken from Kate Mcrae's Puppy Class notes, with her permission.