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Crate Training 101 – The Ultimate Guide

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Table of Contents - Crate Training

New dog parents might wonder why you’d ever want to shut your precious pooch in a crate that’s so small that your dog can barely turn around. After all, isn’t it cruel to keep a dog in a cage?

Worse still, a puppy might be whining, barking, or having a full-on howl fest, so why isn’t the owner doing anything about it? 

Newsflash. Crate training, when done right, is one of the most invaluable tools for getting a new puppy swiftly potty-trained and easy to travel with.

In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at crate training and why a crate should be right on top of the list of things to buy when you get a new puppy. Well, after puppy food! 

 

Why Crate Train?

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Dogs are naturally denning animals, and when crate training is done right, a crate is their safe, happy place. A haven that they can retire to when they need to rest, recharge, or simply get away from it all when the world gets too overwhelming.

A properly crate-trained dog might love their crate so much that they continue to use it well into their adulthood.

  • You’ll keep your dog safe 

Whether you are bringing home a new puppy or a new dog, it is likely to be one curious creature and go around your home exploring.

Puppies will get into EVERYTHING, and they are voracious chewers. Your home is full of wires, electrical cables, chemicals, toxic foods, and even skincare products that can be poisonous to dogs. 

Unless you can 100% puppy-proof your home, some of their chewing habits could not only land you a big fat repair bill but can also seriously hurt a pup.

If you can’t watch your pup all the time, you’re going to need baby gates, a playpen, or a crate, to keep them out of trouble for their own sakes. 

  • Crate training makes it easier to potty train

Potty training your new puppy or dog with a crate makes use of one simple principle – dogs are clean creatures that do not want to soil their sleeping and living space.

If you use a larger playpen, dogs can pee in one spot and move to another to avoid stepping or being near their pee. 

However, a crate should be just enough for a pup to stand up comfortably in, turn around, and lie down, making it almost impossible for them to avoid their pee should they have an accident. 

By crate-training them, you’re limiting their movements to their crate and only taking them out to the appropriate pee spot for them to do their thing.

You’ll only be allowing them back into your home when they have emptied their bladders. 

  • Crate Training makes traveling a breeze 

Driving with a dog on your lap might make for a good photo opportunity, but this is dangerous and even illegal in certain states.

In addition, an untrained dog is a thousand times more stressed when they are crated for the first time and chucked onto a giant, roaring, airplane. 

Lastly, if you share a hotel room for your dog and have to step out for just a couple of minutes, be warned!

Dogs are even more prone to separation anxiety when in a strange place, and you might just return to find your dog sitting amidst ripped-up bedsheets and furniture costing a fortune in bills. 

How To Crate Train A Dog?

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Crate training is a long process that often takes weeks, if not months, so be prepared to have plenty of patience. However, the satisfaction of having your dog happily go into his crate to have some alone time is invaluable. 

  • The Introduction to Crate Training 

You only get one first impression, so make it count! Place the crate in your home and have your dog go near it, treating and praising as they check out the new addition.

Keep the doors open, and if your puppy steps in of their own accord, treat and praise like they did the best thing in the world! 

If not, don’t worry, just keep showering attention on your pup if it shows interest in the crate. 

  • Treat Plenty during Crate Training

Once your pup is comfortably lying outside or near the crate, try throwing treats in the crate. If your dog doesn’t want to step in the crate fully, just leave it near the door so that he can get to it without entering.

Don’t close the door or force your pup into the crate, and keep using treats to get your dog in the crate as many times as necessary. 

In addition to treats, you can also start to feed your pup in the crate or place his favorite toy in. The end game is that your dog associates the crate with all things good. 

Do this until you finally have your dog confidently going in and out of the crate to retrieve treats, his toy, or eat his meal. Once you’re sure that your dog is relaxed, you can try to get him to sit or lie down in the crate.

If you manage to get him to do that, treat and praise lavishly and shower him with loads of attention and pats while he is relaxing in the crate. 

  • Close The Door 

If your pup is now comfortably lying down, calm and relaxed in the crate, now you can try to close the door. Only do it for short periods like a few seconds in the beginning, and praise and reward when your dog is calm.

Watch out for signs of anxiety and go back a step when you feel your dog is starting to feel uncomfortable. 

Again, don’t push your pup, and go very slow. The last thing you want is to reverse all the efforts you’ve made so far and have your dog scared and bolting out of the crate. 

  • Leaving The Room during Crate Training

 Once you have your dog relaxed and happy in a closed crate with you sitting near him quietly, now you might want to try to leave the room for a bit, return, and leave the room again.

Start with very short periods of a minute first, and gradually increase the duration of time you spend out of the room. Again, go slowly.

Once you can successfully crate your dog for an hour or so, you are well on the way to having a properly crate-trained dog!

You can then try crating him while you step out for an errand or throughout the night while he sleeps. 

Your Dog’s Likely Responses during Crate Training 

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  • Whining and Barking during Crate Training

If your dog whines and barks during the night while in the crate, you’ll need to figure out whether he wants to be let out for a potty break or if he is throwing a fit. 

Don’t show any attention (not even a correction) to your dog while he is throwing a fit and simply ignore him. Only show attention and let your dog out when he is quiet and calm.

Your dog will soon learn that whining doesn’t get him anywhere while being calm and quiet gets him loads of good stuff. 

However, if your dog continues whining, he might need to get out for a pee. Make the potty break short and sweet, with no affection, pats, or playtime. Just take him out to his pee spot and then straight back. 

  • Separation Anxiety and Crate Training

One of the most common behavioural problems in dogs, separation anxiety affects almost all dogs to some degree, especially the ones that don’t like being left alone.

Poodle mix breeds such as cavoodles are particularly prone to separation anxiety and can struggle to be left alone. Crate training can help make your dog feel safe and secure even when you’re away, especially if you place something that smells comforting like your t-shirt. 

A dog with separation anxiety can hurt itself trying to get out of its crate and to you. They are likely to bark excessively, howl, and dig obsessively in panic at the floor.

Separation anxiety can have a profound impact on a dog’s quality of life, so if you think that your dog is developing it, you might want to consult with a trainer or behaviorist.

Tips For Crate Training 

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Crate training isn’t to be taken likely, and owners that simply chuck their pooch in their crates and hope it all goes well are likely to have one unhappy dog. 

  • Never Punish during Crate Training

The crate is always a haven, never to be used as a punishment. Always shower love, attention, treats, and toys when your dog is in the crate, and make the crate as homely as possible so your dog wants to spend time in it.

The moment your dog hates the crate, crate training will have to start right back at the beginning. 

  • Never Crate For Long Periods 

Dogs are social animals that want to be with us. A crate is not a solution for when you need to go to work or are out for a full day. Being crated for long periods can cause significant anxiety and stress for dogs. After all, they were born and bred to romp and play. 

Also, puppies have teeny bladders and cannot hold their pee for more than a few hours at a time. A young pup of about three months will only be able to do so for about two to three hours, while an older pup about six months old can hold their pee for about four to six hours. 

The only time puppies can be crated for a longer period is when they are asleep, and they must be let out to go potty the moment they wake.

  • Consider Daycare For Long Periods 

While crate training is an important life skill for your puppy to learn; if you have to go to work and leave your puppy alone for a full day, consider leaving your dog with a family member or trusted friend.

In addition, you can consider a dog sitter or doggy daycare. Pups need their pack and should not be left alone for long periods. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Crate Training

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Is it cruel to put a dog in a crate at night?

Dogs are social animals that thrive on companionship. In the wild, they live in packs and spend their days hunting and playing together.

When we domesticate them, we become their pack leaders and it is our responsibility to provide them with the care and attention they need. For many dog owners, this means crating their dogs at night. 

While some people believe that this is cruel, the truth is that crates can provide dogs with a sense of security. They offer a space that is all their own where they can feel safe and relaxed.

For dogs with separation anxiety, crates can also help to ease their anxiety by providing a familiar space for them to retreat to. In conclusion, putting a dog in a crate at night is not cruel. Rather, it is a way to give them the safety and security they need.

How long should you crate train a dog?

Crate training your dog can be a great way to provide them with a safe, comfortable space of their own. And while it may take some time and patience to get your pup used to their crate, the effort is often well worth it. So, how long does it typically take to crate train a dog?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as every dog is unique and will therefore learn at its own pace. However, most experts agree that it typically takes between four and six weeks to successfully crate train a dog.

Of course, this timeframe can vary depending on several factors, such as your dog’s age, temperament, and previous experience with crates (if any).

With that said, the best way to ensure that your dog is successfully crate trained is to start slowly and be consistent with your efforts. If you’re patient and consistent, chances are good that your furry friend will be happy spending time in their crate in no time at all.

Should you cover a dog crate with a blanket?

While some dog owners try to create a cozy den-like atmosphere that can be comforting to their dogs as well as muffle noise, throwing a blanket over a crate can block the airflow, so be careful what you choose as a fabric, and cover two sides instead of all of them, especially in warmer months. 

In addition, a blanket that a puppy can reach and chew onto will get ripped up and potentially be a choking hazard. If you choose to cover the crate with a blanket, be sure to always keep the crate away from heat sources and wiring.  

The Best Puppy Breeders Crate Train

If you’d like your puppy to have the best start in life, find a breeder near you who includes a crate training schedule as part of their puppy rearing practice.

There are many benefits to finding a breeder that trains their puppies using a Puppy Culture or Avidog approach.

Puppies that are raised by responsible breeders who focus on building life skills; such as confidence, optimism, flexibility, tolerance to frustration, independence, focus and impulse control during the critical socialisation period, go on to have far greater resilience to stress and less overall behaviour problems.

Subscribe for more crate training & puppy development tips & planned breedings from our ethical breeder network.

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