Puppy Crate Training Guide

Alice Nguyen | 09 March, 2023

            dog crate training

What will happen when I’m not around?

If you're a new fur parent, you must've asked yourself this question many times. There's no doubt that puppies bring so much joy into our lives. But having them at home also means plenty of additions to your daily to-do list, including making sure they're comfortable and safe even when you're not around. 

This is where puppy crate training fits in the picture! We know what you’re thinking—doesn’t that mean locking up your pup? Fret not. Crate training is very much different from mere caging. It’s about giving your pooch a safe and personal space to relax and snooze. After all, dogs instinctively seek small enclosed spaces as their shelter. 

With the right approach, this can be a very rewarding experience for you and your furball of sunshine. Read on, and get your puppy crate training journey started!

The benefits of using a crate to train your dog

Starting with the benefits, what could be more convincing than proven positive results? Here are just some benefits of puppy crate training done right:

1. Safe Sapce

Like humans, dogs also experience overwhelming stress. Hence, they’ll also need a space where they can easily retreat to when they just want to relax. Crate training makes this possible!

2. Anxiety Reduction

Since crates provide a sense of security to dogs, crate-trained puppies are less vulnerable to stress and anxiety. Frontiers in Veterinary Science also recommend crate training as it aids in preparing and calming dogs during veterinary clinic visits.

3. Behaviour Training

Dogs can be unruly when they’re overwhelmed and not properly trained on what to do when they want to pee and defecate. Specifically, they chew things they’re not supposed to chew and soil your precious furniture and flooring. You wouldn't want that, right? 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in Australia recommends using a crate for potty training as it can help puppies learn to manage their bladder and bowel activities. It also aids in controlling their destructive behaviour.

4. Safer Travels

A crate-trained puppy considers its crate as a familiar place. Thus, crates make your puppy feel secure when it’s time to introduce them to a new environment like hotels or parks, resulting in a safer and more comfortable travel experience for everyone. 

5. Better Emergency Preparedness

Puppy crate training is also beneficial during emergencies like flash floods, earthquakes, and fires because dogs would be more at ease to evacuate when they're already used to their crates.

What type of dog crate works best?

Crate training isn’t one-size-fits-all, especially the crate you will be using. Hence, it'll be best to get to know some factors to consider in choosing the crate that would best work for you and your pup.

1. Size

Get a crate size that’s just enough for your dog to stand up, lie down, and move around comfortably. The risk of choosing a crate that’s too spacious or big is that dogs tend to use the vacant end as their bathroom. You wouldn’t want their crate to stink, right? Choose just the right size!

2. Design

Apart from the size, having the right crate design also influences your fur baby’s training. Dog crates mainly come in two designs: traditional for home purposes and travel type for car and plane rides. The latter has to be more sturdy and secure to ensure your dog's and everyone's safety during outings. 

3. Material

Dog crates commonly have either fabric, plastic, or wire as the primary material. In choosing one, base your decision on your priorities since all of these materials have unique advantages and disadvantages.

A fabric crate would be best if you have a small dog and would like to travel a lot since it’s portable and lightweight but not very sturdy. You may also opt for a plastic crate since it’s more durable and easier to maintain. Plus, it could also provide your dog with more privacy. But, if you want your dog to observe their surroundings and have more access to air, you might want to choose the wire crate.

How to crate train your dog

We’re finally here at the exciting part! The HOW.

Although crate training is a relatively new method of dog training and has varying practices, here are three basic steps that you should at least be familiar with before execution.

1. Introducing the crate to your dog

Your pup would only be willing to train once it’s already comfortable and familiar with their new ‘home’. Hence, the first step is to introduce the crate to your puppy.

  1. Start by placing the crate in an area where most family members gather to urge your pooch to explore the new house item.
  2. Make sure the crate door is always open, making your puppy feel more welcome and less frightened by the banging. 
  3. Set up dog treats and toys inside the crate to attract your puppy to the crate.
  4. Let your puppy stay in the crate for short intervals, about 3-5 minutes. Reward positive behaviour, and never let your puppy out until it calms down from barking and whining.

This process takes a lot of time. Be patient and gradually increase the time as you move forward in training.

2. Feeding your dog in their crate

Let’s be honest. Dogs are often motivated by food. Hence, feeding your dog in the crate forms a positive association with the training. Here’s how you should do it.

  1. Set the feeding time when your dog is usually hungry during the day.
  2. Place the food bowl far inside the crate to entice your pup to enter. You may also drop a few dog treats from the entrance leading to the bowl to encourage them more.
  3. Close the door, make sure they’re not stressed, and let them eat in peace.
  4. Once your pup’s done, take him out gently. 

3. Sleeping with their crate

Lastly, you have to help your puppy get used to sleeping inside by setting up a comfortable bedding inside. It’s also ideal to keep the crate in your bedroom at night to make your puppy feel more secure. Then, you can gradually move the crate to its permanent position in the house.

Can I leave my 8-week-old puppy in a crate at night? 

It’s possible to leave your 8-week-old puppy in its crate at night, but you have to frequently take them outside as its bladder is still too small to be potty-trained. It must also be done gradually to make the transition not too sudden and stressful.

Is it OK to leave my puppy in their crate crying all night?

Puppies shouldn’t be left crying all night in their crate for this will only associate stress and anxiety with the enclosure, making training more difficult. This is why a gradual introduction to their crate is necessary.

Should I put a pee pad in the crate?

It’s generally not recommended since we want to associate the clean and comfortable image with the crate. Placing a pee pad inside would only confuse your pup. Instead, you could take your puppy outside to pee and defecate or place the pee pad in a distinct area at home. Just keep dog poop bags ready for disposal. This will help them understand that they must go outside for bathroom breaks and keep their crates clean.

Is it OK to have toys in their crate?

Of course!

Having toys inside the crate encourages your puppy to be comfortable inside. Otherwise, you’ll have to find other ways to keep him from whining and barking out of boredom. Just make sure that the toys you put inside are safe, which means these are durable enough to be chewed without breaking into smaller pieces that could choke your pooch.

Final Thoughts

Indeed, puppy crate training has benefits that positively influence your puppy’s growth. But remember, these are only achievable when it’s done properly, gradually, and with your furbaby’s health and welfare in mind.

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