Puppy Training Basics Part 1 – Crate Training

Why Crate Training Is Important
• Crate training helps with potty training.
• A crate makes traveling with your dog much easier.
• Crate training is an important aid for creating structure in your dogs life.
• Being in a crate helps your dog mentally relax.
• A crate gives your dog a place of their own to go for some peace and quiet.
• Being in a crate helps prevent unwanted behaviors when you cannot be with them, such as window barking, counter surfing, chewing household objects, and more.
• Proper crate training can help reduce anxiety when leaving your dog at home.

How To Crate Train Your Puppy
1. Introduce the crate slowly. Do not bring the crate home and lock your puppy in it right away. Put the crate in a place your puppy visits frequently and keep the door open. Let your puppy explore the crate on their own. If the puppy is not interested, try putting a treat, favorite toy, or blanket inside. It can sometimes take a couple of days, so do not get discouraged and be patient with the process

2. Use the crate for meal time. After your puppy is willing to enter the crate, the next step is to get your puppy comfortable with staying inside for extended periods of time. You can help with this process by putting meals in the crate. If possible, place the bowl in the back of the crate so your puppy will go all the way in. If your puppy is hesitant at first, you can try putting the bowl at the front of the crate and slowly move it back as your puppy gets more used to it.

3. Close the crate door. As soon as the puppy is eating all the way inside the crate, you can now try shutting the door. The first time you close the door during a meal, open it as soon as your puppy finishes eating. Leave the door closed a little longer after each meal, adding just a few minutes each time. If your dog whines, open the door immediately the first time this happens. Shorten the time a little the next meal. Begin increasing the time again, but consider adding smaller increments. However, if your puppy whines another time, wait until the whining stops before letting your puppy out or you will teach that whining means opening the door.

4. Extending the crate time. Once your puppy is staying in the crate without signs of stress, you can start lengthening the stay. Hang out by the crate for several minutes. You can give your puppy a favorite toy to help keep them calm and distracted. Once your puppy is settled in the crate, go into a different room for a few minutes so they get used to being in the crate alone. When you return, do not open the crate door immediately. Sit with the puppy for a few more minutes and then open the door. Keep increasing the time until your puppy is able to stay in the locked crate for half of an hour without your presence. When they are able to do this you can try prolonging the time and try letting your puppy sleep in the crate at night. Make sure to keep the crate relatively nearby overnight. Puppies will usually have to use the potty overnight and you will want to hear them to let them out. Knowing you are close to can also calm your puppy since pets can sense when you are nearby.

Leaving and returning with your puppy in the crate. Encourage your puppy to get in the crate and give praise when they do, but keep it brief. Upon returning home, stay low-key and ignore any excited behavior. The goal is to make the crate seem completely normal and avoid excitement.

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