Crate training a puppy is a necessary and positive part of your dog’s development. If your puppy is crated while you are not home, he does not have the opportunity to chew on your belongings and other harmful things such as power cords or go potty on your best furniture.
Some people think that keeping a dog in a crate is cruel. Not true. Dogs by nature like small, dark places. When dogs were still wild animals, they often slept in small, dark dens just big enough to turn around in and to lie down comfortably. Today’s equivalent of a den is a crate – a small, cozy place where your dog can feel safe and secure.
For crate training a puppy, you need a crate that is just big enough for your dog to turn around in. Here are some important crate training tips:
- Make the crate a safe and happy place for your dog.
- Provide stimulating toys in the crate.
- Leave your puppy in the open crate for brief periods of time at first and then begin closing the door behind him.
- Make sure that your puppy’s crate experience is always positive by giving him treats and rewards when he enters the crate.
- Once he is comfortable, you can leave him in the crate for increasing periods of time.
- Never use the crate as punishment. You want your dog to feel that his crate is a safe refuge, not a prison.
House Training a Puppy with a Crate
Crate training a puppy also gives you a way to house train your dog. Follow these steps:
- Take the puppy outside after each nap or meal.
- Do not play with him until he has relieved himself.
- If he doesn’t relieve himself in about 10 minutes, take him back inside and put him in the crate.
- Repeat the routine in 10-15 minutes. Remember, no play until the puppy relieves himself and lots of praise when he does.
Puppies are born with the instinctive desire to keep their dens clean, so given the opportunity, most puppies will relieve themselves far away from where they eat, play, and sleep. Using a crate takes advantage of this natural tendency and helps the puppy learn control between trips outside.
After the puppy is house trained, leave the crate open during the day. You’ll find that the puppy naps in the crate by choice. You can continue to put the puppy in the crate when you are away from the house as long as you don’t leave puppies and young dogs confined too long and also make sure they have plenty of exercise when you are home. When you’re home, your dog should be out of the crate and socializing with his human family.