There are a variety of benefits to crate training a puppy, or dog. If you own a new dog, or puppy, you can use a kennel (or crate) as a way to limit their boundaries throughout the house. Traveling with your puppy also goes a lot smoother if they are kennel trained and can easily be transported from point A to point B, without putting up a fuss.
By pairing kennel training with some type of reward – or something favorable, your puppy will gain a positive outlook on spending time in their kennel. If you train your puppy properly, he/she should have no problem spending some time in there, when it is needed.
Beginning the Process
When you begin the kennel training process, keep two things in mind – train using at least one type of positive reinforcement (treats are a good example), and take the learning process slowly – don’t rush. You want your puppy to learn at their own pace, not to be forced into doing something they are not yet ready for.
4 Steps on Crate Training a Puppy :
Step 1: Introducing Your Puppy to Their Kennel
Start off by taking the crate and placing it into an often used area of your home, preferably in the kitchen, living room, or family room – someplace where your family spends a decent amount of time. Leave the crate on the floor, and open up the door. It helps if you install a blanket or small towel into the crate so that your puppy isn’t forced to sit on hard plastic or metal.
In order to get your dog comfortable with entering the crate, place some treats right outside of the entrance. After that, place a treat or two just inside the doorway, but not too far to where your puppy has to enter their entire body to retrieve the treats. Lastly, put a treat all of the way to the end of the crate and see if your puppy will go in to get it by themselves, but don’t force them. The last thing you want is for your puppy to become fearful of the crate because that’ll make them never want to go in there, or whine every time they have to.
Step 2: Having Your Dog Eat Their Meals in the Crate
Once you acquaint your puppy with their kennel you can start feeding them their meals near, or inside of the crate. If they are still a little bit unsure about fitting their entire body inside of the crate, don’t put their food bowl all the way to the back wall, only set it as far back as your puppy is willing to go. Each day you can push the food bowl back further and further until it reaches the back of the kennel.
As soon as your dog is comfortable enough with entering their kennel alone, start closing the door behind them. The kennel itself should be large enough for them to be able to move and turn around in, so don’t feel like you’re trapping them in there with no place to turn. The first day you try this you can wait until they are finished eating, and then release them from the crate. As the days and progress go on, leave your dog in there for extended periods of time. At first, a solid 5-10 minutes is probably best and from there you can increase the time period by 5 minutes or so. However, if your dog immediately begins to turn anxious when you do this, it’s a sign that you probably increased the time a little too fast and you can let them out, but you don’t want to do that every time. Otherwise, they’ll learn that by whining they’ll be let out of their kennel and soon create a habit out of it.
Step 3: Staying in the Kennel for Longer Periods of Time
After you’ve successfully trained your puppy to eat their meals inside of their kennel, you can start training them to stay in there for short periods of time while you are home. If you leave them right away, they’ll get very anxious due to the fact that they are trapped and have no sense of when you’ll return, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.
Grab a treat and call your dog over to their kennel. Command your dog to “kennel up” (or however you’d like to teach them) and if they listen, go ahead of praise him/her with the treat. Close the door and sit in the same room for 5 or minutes, it doesn’t have to be long, and then leave to go into another room. Come back 10 or so minutes later and sit down next the the kennel again. After 15-20 minutes, you can let your dog out to play again, and repeat this pattern daily. Each day increase the time by a few minutes until your dog can peacefully sit in their kennel for at least 30 minutes while you are out of sight.
Step 4: Leaving Your Dog Alone and Crating Them at Night
When your puppy no longer becomes anxious or afraid when being left in their kennel for at least 30 minutes – while you are out of sight – they are ready to be left alone for short periods of time inside their crate. It’s safe to kennel up your dog roughly 5 to 10 minutes before leaving the house, and it doesn’t hurt to throw in a toy or treat for them as well. Don’t make a scene when you are leaving – after you kennel them up, grab what is needed and make a quiet exit. Use the same rule of thumb when returning as well. By staying calm and collected when coming home, your dog won’t become rambunctious inside of their kennel and shake the entire house. Also keep in mind that your dog should not be left alone inside their kennel for more than 4 to 5 hours during the day. Don’t forget to let your dog out to eliminate beforehand as well, especially if you know that they will be in there for a few hours.
It’s a good idea to keep practicing crate etiquette, even when you are home. That way your dog won’t associate their kennel with just the thought of you leaving, but also as a place to spend some quiet time while you are home as well.
When you start crating your dog at night, it is a good idea to start off by keeping their kennel near your bedroom or the hall, just in case they have to go outside to relieve themselves during the night and you need to be able to hear them. As your dog becomes more and more familiar with staying kenneled up at night, you can begin to move their crate further away from your room to the area of which that you prefer your dog to stay in permanently.
Setbacks That Could Occur
A common mistake dog owners tend to make is forcing their dogs to spend too much time in their crates. If you kennel them up before you go to work at the beginning of the day, and then again before you go to sleep, you dog is spending too much time in their crates and is probably getting a little frustrated with it. Other arrangements can (and should) be made to make your dog, or puppy, feel as comfortable as possible.
Whining is another major setback that can be difficult to distinguish between whether your dog just wants attention, or if they actually need to relieve themselves. If you are convinced that your dog only wants to be let out of the kennel – ignore them. Your best bet is to show them that they cannot whine their way free. However, if you believe that your dog may have to eliminate, bring them outside to go, but return them directly back to their kennel afterwards.
Remember to Take Your Time
For the best results in crate training a puppy, it is most important to take your time going through each individual step very carefully. You don’t want to push your puppy to do something they are not ready for, but you don’t want to lose patience and give up either. It’s crucial to keep moving forward, even if it’s at a slow pace. As long as your puppy grasps the concept of kennel training in the long run, it’ll be worth it.
Finding Kennels and Carriers That Work Best for You
Deciphering between which model, or type, of dog crate to purchase for you puppy can get a little confusing sometimes. Depending on what the occasion is that you are looking for a new kennel, you have an unlimited amount of resources to shop from.
Think of the specifics of what you are looking for in a new kennel. Are you looking for a certain style? How many doors would you like to have? What would you like to see included? Will you be needing this crate for inside and outdoor purposes? By doing this, it will narrow down your search by a ton.
You should also be aware of what size dog kennels to be looking at that will comfortably suit your dog. He/she should easily be able to walk in, stand up, and turn around comfortably in their dog crate, without having any issues or bumping into the side of the kennel. It’s always easy to go ahead and look online for kennel guidelines, or you can simply measure your dog yourself; it’s really up to what you prefer to do.