Why should you carry out puppy crate training? One, it is an effective tool for house-training your pup. Two, it makes putting your little friend in a carrier an easier task. Third, it serves as your dog’s ‘den’ or territory that he can call his own. Canine pets, after all, are den animals.
Crate training is indeed a versatile tool and should be seen as such. Puppies themselves have no preconceived perceptions of this type of containment. When done right, training your puppy to take to the crate will be a positive experience. To make that happen, avoid associating the crate with negative things, like punishment and lengthy detention. Do not use it as punishment or lock your furry friend in it for too long.
Think of the crate as your pet’s safe place, his haven. When you consistently keep this in mind, you exude the right energy that helps make puppy crate training successful. That being said, here are the steps on how to crate-train a puppy fast.
1) Make the crate inviting.
The dog crate itself must be appealing. This means it should be of the right size and with some extra room so your pet does not feel cramped. It should have soft bedding and a toy or two.
Adding one of your used shirts into the crate can also make the containment feel more familiar and comfy. Avoid this option, though, if your pup likes to chew fabric. Drape a towel or spare cloth over a part of the crate to make it feel like a canine den. The key here is to associate the crate with positive things so your pet will readily take to it.
Where should you put the crate? Ideally, it should be placed at a part of your home that he frequently visits. It should be safe and not located in a high-traffic area.
2) Introduce your puppy to his den.
Give your pup time to get familiar with the crate. Leave the crate door open during this phase, even when he does get in and lie in it. Let him sniff and explore it on his own. If you put a toy all the way inside, especially one with treats in it, he is likely to step inside.
Every now and then, put in a small treat in the crate without your puppy noticing. These surprises can help strengthen the positive association to the cage.
Also, you can start putting his food at the innermost part of the crate during mealtime. If your pooch is hesitant, put it halfway in or nearer to the entrance. At subsequent feeding times, keep pushing the food bowl a little further in.
Once your pet manages to eat his food whilst all the way back in the crate, start closing the door. For the first few instances, close it for a few seconds. With each meal, lengthen the closed-door times by a few more seconds or minutes.
If your dog complains, open the door and shorten the duration of the closure on your next attempt. If he still whines, wait until he is silent before opening the door.
3) Lay the crate training foundation in one whole weekend.
It may take days or even weeks for young dogs to take to the crate. If you want to speed up the process, concentrated effort is needed. When done well, your pup may be comfortable enough in the cage in just one weekend. You may even be able to have him go inside on command. That being said, introduce the crate as the weekend starts so your furry friend will be adequately adjusted by Monday.
Once your puppy shows interest in the crate and even goes in and out of it, do the following steps:
- Use a command when asking your furry buddy to enter the crate.
- Present a treat and toss it inside the crate. When he goes in and eats it, praise him. Give him another treat whilst he’s still inside.
- Use another command to get him to come out. When he does emerge after using the cue word, do not reward him. The point is to make him understand that nice things happen within the crate.
- Do the steps above all over again. You can repeat them for about ten times. After a few minutes’ break, do another round of ten repetitions.
A few hours afterwards, you can do the following to take your pup’s training up another level:
- Do a few rounds of the steps in the first training session as a warm-up.
- Shift to using the entry command, point at the crate, and wait for your puppy to go in. Do not give a treat at this time.
- After your pup has gone inside, praise him and toss in treats whilst he is still inside.
- Give him the exit command and wait for him to emerge from the cage.
- Repeat steps b to d ten times. After a few minutes’ break, you can do another round of ten repetitions.
If your dog seems uncooperative during the second training session, return to the steps in the first session. Move on to the second phase when your pet is more confident in going inside the crate for treats.
4) Teach your puppy to stay in longer.
The sessions described in point #3 should be done in the middle of the weekend (Saturday). Ideally, the two sets of training steps below should be done on the last session of the day.
To help your pet learn to stay in with a closed door:
- You can warm up by doing a few repeats of the last training session.
- Then give the entry command, point to the cage, and give a treat after he enters it.
- Give the exit command and then close the crate.
- After a moment, open the door, give the entry command, and point to the crate.
- Once your little friend enters, praise him and toss in a treat. Carefully and slowly close the door but do not latch it.
- Hand your pup a treat or two through the closed crate door. Add in praise to seal the deal.
- Give the exit command and then open the door.
- Repeat steps b to g ten times. After a break of about one to two minutes, do another ten sets. This time, increase the closed door duration by a few seconds with each repeat.
If your dog becomes anxious when you close the door, close it halfway on the next attempt within the first ten repeats. In the second set, close the door fully.
Do the following to train your pet to learn to stay in a closed cage whilst you are out:
- Whilst sitting beside the cage, give the entry command and point to it.
- Give treats after your pet goes in and does not complain after the door is closed.
- After thirty seconds, give the exit command and open the door to let your pooch out.
- Close the door for a quick second and give the entry command again and point accordingly.
- After your puppy enters, close and latch the door and toss in a treat.
- Calmly and carefully stand up. Toss in another treat.
- Walk a few steps from the crate. Go back to the cage and then give another treat.
- Give the exit command and open the door to let him emerge.
- Do these steps again ten times. Vary the direction of your walk each time.
As you repeat these steps, increase the distance and duration of your departure. Your dog will be gradually comfortable being left in the crate by himself.
How long should you leave your puppy in the crate?
If your pup is eight to ten weeks old, you can let him stay in for thirty to sixty minutes at a time. If he is eleven to fourteen weeks, one to three hours is recommended. If he is fifteen to sixteen weeks old, three to four hours. If he is seventeen weeks or older, you can leave him in for four to five hours only.
You may like to read:
- Top 10 Puppy Training Tips
- How to Effectively Do Puppy House Training
- Tips and Tricks for Dog Obedience Training
Learn more training tips for a better behaved pet by checking out our how-to blog about pet dogs!