Crate training is a useful part in the puppy training process. It is a helpful aid for housebreaking, traveling, and teaching some rules.
Dogs are natural den animals. Crates act as a den for the domesticated dog. If the dog is properly introduced to the crate, they will recognize it as their very own space. They will use this space to relax, sleep, or just take a break.
The key is to make the crate experience a positive one. You don’t want your dog to view crate time as a punishment. Make the crate cozy. You can do this by adding a blanket or a favorite toy. If your dog tends to experience some separation anxiety from you while in the crate, place a blanket, towel, or something like that that has either been used or worn recently or has been in your laundry basket in the crate with them. Your scent will be on this item which will help calm them. You can also cover the crate with a lightweight blanket to mimic a den. Just be sure that it is lightweight enough and there is still proper airflow and ventilation.
Get your pup used to the crate while you’re still there. Use the crate for “quiet time breaks.” Start with 10-minute intervals and gradually work your way up to longer time periods. If necessary, sit next to the crate while your dog is in it. This may help them relax and feel more comfortable in the crate. It’s a reassurance that the crate is good and they’re okay.
3 Don’ts of Crate Training:
1. Don’t leave your dog in the crate all day.
2. Don’t use the crate as punishment
3. Don’t lose patience. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It may take some time but it will be worth it.
Crates are a major tool in housebreaking. Puppies will usually not soil their bed or den. If you establish their crate as your dog’s ‘den” or personal space, they will learn to not go to the bathroom while in the crate. Instead, they will wait until they are let out. This is when you would teach them where to proper place to go to the bathroom is (in the backyard, out on a walk, etc.). You want to establish a routine with your pup. Get them used to going to the bathroom after crate time. Be sure to praise them after going to the bathroom to reinforce this positive behavior. Soon enough they will learn. But be patient – accidents happen. Just be sure to not give up and keep going with the training.
Crate training is also useful when it comes to traveling. Crates are a great option when you need to transport your pet. Whether in a car or on a plane, a crate is a safe place for your pet to stay during travel. If they are used to being in a crate, they will have an easier time during travel.
Crate training also helps teach your pup some rules. Along with housebreaking, it helps them learn boundaries by limiting access to the entire home. Crate training will help them realize they may not have full run of the house,
which can help limit the trouble they get into.
Choosing the Best Crate
You want the crate to be well-ventilated with proper air flow.
Your dog should have enough room in the crate to stand up, lie down, and turn around. The crate should grow with the puppy. If you plan to use the crate for their whole life, purchase a crate that is large enough for their expected full-grown adult size. Use a divider (this should come with the crate) to make the space smaller and adjust it as they grow. Proper sizing is very important for crate. Too small = uncomfortable. Too big = too much space invites bathroom accidents.
Types of Crates
There are different types of crates, the two most common being metal and plastic.
Metal crates are mesh- like and collapsible. They offer a higher level of visibility, creating a more open feeling. Metal crates are sturdy and typically escape proof (although there are some Houdini-pups out there).
Plastic crates offer less visibility and more privacy. These crates are good for plane travel.