Learning About the Crate
Bringing home a new puppy into your household is very exciting, yet intimidating, for some pet parents! You want everything to be perfect for your new fur baby but may need some help figuring out what’s best. If you properly train your dog to use a crate, they will think of it as their safe place and will be happy to spend time there when needed. You can use the crate to limit access to the house until they are potty trained or learn what they can or cannot chew on. Crate training may take some time and effort, so you must be patient and work with your pup. This may be one of the best things you can do for them since you’ll need to leave your puppy at home alone, even though you may not want to. Puppies aren’t born with the understanding that their crate is a safe place for them, so here are some tips on how to make sure the transition is smooth and easy.
Picking Out the Best Crate
Puppies come in all sizes and you’ll have to find a crate specifically for them. Most crates are plastic or metal pens and can be adjusted for the best fit. The crate should be just large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around in. The reason behind this is because if the crate is too big, they will be able to defecate at one end and lay down in the other, which isn’t a good start to potty training! If you do not have an adjustable crate, the best solution would be to block off any extra space or look into renting a smaller crate until your puppy is fully grown.
When to Start Crate Training
You will want to start crate training your puppy as soon as possible for the best results. Puppies under six months old should not be kept in the crate for more than three hours. The earlier you introduce them to the crate, the quicker it will be for them to get used to.
Introducing Your Puppy to The Crate
The best place to put the crate in your house is in an area where your family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. At first, you should open all possible doors on it, and simply let it be in the room sitting there. Your puppy will get curious about it and may explore it on their own, which is the best way. You want this experience to be as positive as possible, so they associate the crate with happy feelings. Make sure you have a comfy towel or blanket inside for them to lay on! The best way to encourage them inside the crate is to drop some small treats near it, and even inside the crate. They may not go all the way inside the crate at first, this step could take anywhere from a few minutes to several days. If treats do not seem to work, you could try their favorite toy as well.
Feeding Your Puppy Meals in the Crate
Putting a meal inside the crate with the doors open is a great start in directing your puppy inside and seeing how they react. You can start with the meal at the front of the crate and move it towards the back as they get more comfortable inside. If your puppy seems to have no problem entering the crate on their own, it is still a good idea to put their meals close by the crate to create a pleasant association. Once your pup has no problem going to the back of their crate to eat, try shutting the door while they eat. As soon as they are finished eating, open the door.
Extending Crate Time
Once your puppy is handling everything about the crate without being stressed, you can start to leave them inside for longer periods of time. When you first try out a longer amount of time, you should not leave the house, but instead you can sit quietly in a different room of the house. Once you enter the room again, do not open the door right away, but you can sit close to them and wait a few minutes. Keep extending this period of time until your puppy is comfortable in the crate for more than one or two hours before you leave them home alone inside it. Once your puppy is used to staying in the crate and you decide to leave, do not make it seem like anything special, or different, is going on. This will help them incorporate you leaving into their normal daily routine.
Overnight in the Crate
Once you think your pup is ready for overnighting in the crate, you need to let them out at least once during that span to use the bathroom. Keep the crate near you so you can listen for signs of them needing to go out. When you hear you puppy getting restless in the crate or even begin to cry, it is time to take them outside! Once your pup gets comfortable with sleeping through the night or even as they get older, it is still a good idea to sleep nearby so they do not become associated with social isolation. You can also help them sleep through the night by putting their favorite toy/blanket in the crate or using a Snuggle Puppy to help. The Snuggle Puppy has a real-feel heartbeat to put inside the stuffed animal, along with a heat warmer pack to help imitate the feeling of sleeping with their mother and littermates. The Snuggle Puppy is a great all-natural tool to use that keep puppies calm and helps them sleep throughout the night.
What Not to do with the Crate
Some ways to make sure your pup isn’t afraid of the crate is to never associate negative attitudes, such as punishment, with the crate. Never put them in their as a “Time-out” when they are misbehaving. There are plenty other ways to show your pup that you did not like their behavior. You want to show them their crate is a safe place for them, not a place they will dread being in.