Crate training is one of the most popular, successful training methods used by dog owners and dog trainers. Although at first glance a crate may not look like much of anything, to a dog it’s a very essential part of life. Dogs view their crates as their own special dens that are both familiar and secure. When crate training is executed properly, dogs find peace and solace in their dens, while you have peace of mind that they’re safe and sound when you’re not home. Most importantly, dogs won’t mess in their crates, as their natural instincts tell them not to soil where they eat or sleep.
With puppies, you’ll want to start with a smaller crate so that it’s not too large and enable the puppy to sleep and eat on one end and soil in the other. If you’ll be working with a larger crate, be sure to block off the end. As the puppy grows into an adult, you’ll need a crate that allows him to stand, sit and stretch out. Crate training should start as soon as you bring your puppy home and should be done in one to two hour intervals or when you leave the home for several hours at a time.
For now, place the crate in an area where you spend a lot of time such as the kitchen or family room. You can also move the crate around with you for the first few weeks. For example, take your puppy with you while you sleep so that she learns that this time of the day is spent sleeping.
If your puppy starts to fuss, don’t give in right away. If you let the dog out every time she fusses, she’ll learn to keep doing it. Instead, wait a few minutes and if she stops, reward her with lots of praise. If she doesn’t, let her out after a few minutes, but don’t offer any praise. When your puppy sits nicely in the crate, provide encouragement, feed her a treat or offer her a special toy.
Keep in mind that just because you follow through with crate training doesn’t mean your puppy will automatically be house trained. Your puppy may be paper trained by the breeder or may not have any clue about the process. You’ll need to keep consistent with letting your puppy out for potty breaks throughout the day. Encourage quiet time in the crate, as eventually your pet will learn to use the crate when you’re not home or when he needs extra security. Thanks to crate training, your pet will be safe when you can’t be there and also find comfort in his den.