Crate Training Your Puppy
Similar to having a toddler in a home, a new puppy has its own challenges when it comes to safety. I am a firm believer in crating my dogs when I am not home. Contrary to popular belief, crates are not used for punishment, but as a safe haven for the dog to go to in times of stress and for training. Crate training your puppy can be very helpful with housebreaking, useful for traveling, and great when you just need some alone time. All of my dogs are crate trained and “kennel up” when asked, and are often rewarded with a treat, making it a positive experience. I planned from the beginning to do AKC & UKC Breed and Conformation shows with Capone, so I knew he would need to be comfortable in a crate. Thankfully, his breeder had started him at a young age, so when I got him, he was already used to being crated.
Getting Started with Crate Training
To start, choose a well-ventilated crate that will allow your puppy to turn around, stand, and sit. Be sure to purchase a crate large enough to accommodate your puppy’s anticipated adult size. Many crates offer a divider option to make the crate temporarily smaller during the growing process.
It is best to start your puppy with short time periods in the crate. With puppies, do not put bedding, towels, blankets or other stuffed toys in the crate while your puppy is becoming accustomed to being kenneled. Any of these items can become a potential foreign body to your pup—and though you may enjoy these blogs, you probably don’t want to see me at the hospital for emergency surgery to remove said items from your puppy’s GI tract! I like to give Capone a large marrow bone or bully stick to help keep him busy while crated so he is less likely to throw a tantrum. I prefer to get my bones from The Chester Meat Market, but for those who are not local, Oma’s Pride offers a U.S. based product which can be shipped nation-wide.
Secondly, make sure to take the puppy outside to potty before placing in the crate to lessen the chance of an accident while kenneled. Start with a few minutes, then build up to an hour or so alone in the crate–and be prepared for your puppy to protest. Barking, crying, whining etc. are all normal. They will all eventually settle as long as you do not respond to the noise. I also find leaving a radio on for them can sometimes help soothe their anxiety.
Once the puppy has settled and is quiet in the crate, wait a few moments, then remove him from the crate with lots of praise. Take him directly outside to allow him to potty after. Avoid using the crate as punishment to help your dog see his crate is his safe place.
Crate training your puppy can also help build the foundation for house breaking. With time and patience, most dogs with learn to love their crate. As they get older they may even ask to go into their crate on their own if they are overwhelmed–or even just to take a nap.
AnimERge Night Supervisor