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Puppy crate training is a great way to ensure that your pup has a safe and comfortable place to sleep, eat, and relax.
It can also help reduce the amount of stress young puppies feel, making the transition to their new home much smoother.
In this blog post, we will discuss a basic puppy crate training schedule that should be followed during the first few weeks after your pup comes home.
Introducing Your Puppy to the Crate
First, it’s important to note that crate training should never be used as a form of punishment.
The crate should always be seen as a positive and comforting space for your pup.
During the first week, you will want to gradually introduce your pup to its crate by feeding them meals in the crate and offering treats and toys inside.
As they become comfortable, begin closing the door for short periods of time while they are inside. Start with just a few minutes at a time.
Each day, increase the time that the door is closed until they can comfortably stay in their crate for about 30 minutes without becoming anxious or distressed.
Once your pup is accustomed to being in their crate during meal times and for brief periods throughout the day, you can begin leaving them in their crate for longer periods.
Tips for Successful Crate Training
- Exercise – Make sure to provide enough physical and mental exercise before leaving them in their crate for extended periods of time. Exercise reduces stress and encourages calm behavior and sleep.
- Positive Reinforcement – Use positive reinforcement when they are calm and relaxed in their crate. Positive reinforcement promotes desired behaviors by keeping the experience positive for both you and your dog.
- Be Mindful of Time – Avoid leaving them in the crate for more than 4-6 hours at a time. Puppies have smaller bladders and will likely need to relieve themselves.
- Crate Size – Always make sure the crate is big enough for your pup to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably. But, not too much larger than is required. Consider a crate with an adjustable divider that can grow with your pet!
Gradually increase the amount of time that your puppy spends in their crate until they can easily handle being left alone for long periods.
Puppy Crate Training Schedule
Now that you understand how to introduce your pup to the crate and what to expect during the training process, it’s time to create a Puppy Crate Training Schedule.
The schedule below outlines a basic routine that should be followed during the first few days.
Please keep in mind that this schedule should be adapted to fit your individual pup’s needs. You may need to adjust the times depending on their age and temperament.
Daily Schedule for Crate Training Your Puppy During the First Week:
After bringing your puppy home, get your pup acclimated to the crate by placing it in a well-trafficked area of the house. Spend 10-15 minutes introducing them to the crate and allow them to explore it at their own pace.
Place their bedding and favorite toy inside. Repeat this process throughout the day until it is bed time. We recommend leaving your puppy in the crate the first night.
But, plan to get up at the 4 hour mark to let them out and go to the bathroom.
Do not let them out of the crate if they are whining or barking. Be patient and wait for them to settle before opening the crate.
Put your puppy in the crate during mealtime, with a treat inside to encourage them to go in. Close the door for 15-30 minutes, then let them out after they have finished eating.
If they whine or bark, ignore it and only open the door when your puppy is quiet. Repeat this process throughout the day.
Gradually increase the amount of time that you leave your pup in their crate from 30 minutes to an hour. If needed, provide a chew toy or a stuffed Kong filled with peanut butter for entertainment while they are in their crate.
Once your pup is comfortable staying in their crate for up to one hour at a time, you can start to gradually increase the amount of time they are in their crate.
Continue to build up the amount of time your puppy spends in their crate until it is comfortable staying in there for four hours at a stretch. Be sure to take your pup out on regular potty breaks during this period. Once you have successfully crate trained your puppy, they should be able to stay in their crate, unsupervised, for 4-6 hours without any issues.
Remember to keep your expectations realistic and focus on positivity when training your pup – consistency is key! With patience and understanding, you’ll soon find yourself with a happy and confident pup that loves spending time in its designated space.
Crate training a Puppy That Hates Their Crate
Crate training a resistant puppy may require extra patience and consistency.
If your pup is resistant to the crate, try feeding them meals inside and providing treats or toys. Create positive associations with being in the crate.
You may also want to leave something with your scent in their crate to provide comfort, such as a worn shirt.
It’s important to not force or rush your puppy into crate training and ensure that they see the crate as a safe and comfortable place.
With patience and consistency, most puppies can successfully adapt to crate training.
Crate training an older dog
It is possible to crate train an older dog, although it may take longer and require more patience.
As with puppy crate training, introduce the crate gradually and create positive associations with being in the crate by offering treats and toys inside.
If your older dog is resistant to the crate, try using a soothing voice or providing a special treat while they are inside the crate.
Overall, consistency and positive reinforcement will be key in successfully crate training an older dog.
It may take some time. But, most dogs can adapt to being crated if given enough patience and understanding from their owners.
Troubleshooting Common Problems with crate training
Crate training is not without its challenges.
Here are some common problems owners encounter when crate training and tips how to troubleshoot them:
Puppy Hates The Crate:
This is often the biggest challenge when crate training.
Dogs may resist being confined to a small space, and may try to escape the crate.
To overcome this, make sure the crate is comfortable and inviting.
Place a soft bed inside and some of your dog’s favorite toys.
Gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends in the crate each day. Do this until they are comfortable being in there for several hours at a time.
If your dog is still resistant, consult a certified professional trainer for help.
Puppy cries or barks while in the crate:
This can be frustrating for owners, but it is important to remain calm and patient.
Dogs may cry or bark when first placed in the crate because they are unsure of what is happening.
However, this will typically stop after a few minutes once they realize they are not going to be let out right away.
If your dog continues to cry or bark persistently, try placing a towel over the crate so they can’t see out.
This will help them feel more secure and should reduce their vocalization. If the problem persists, consult a professional trainer for help.
Puppy has accidents in the crate:
Accidents are one of the most common problems when crate training.
Dogs may have accidents because they are not yet used to holding their bladder or bowels for long periods of time.
To overcome this, make sure you take your dog out frequently to use the bathroom.
Start with taking them out every hour, and gradually increase the interval between bathroom breaks as they improve.
It’s also important to ensure the crate is not too large.
If there is too much room, your dog may be tempted to use one end as a bathroom and the other as a bed.
A good general rule is that the crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in, but no bigger.
If you are wondering what crate to buy, we recommending buying one large enough for your adult dog but with an adjustable divider.
Lastly, make sure you praise your dog highly when they do use the bathroom outside.
This will reinforce good behavior and help them learn that going in the crate is not acceptable.
If you are having trouble with any aspect of crate training, consult a certified professional trainer for help.
With patience and consistency, you should be able to successfully potty train your dog using this method.
Crate training can benefit you and your dog, such as providing a safe space for them and facilitating potty training.
It is important to introduce the crate gradually and positively. Use treats and toys to create good associations with being in the crate.
Consistency and patience will be key in successfully implementing crate training with your dog.
If you encounter any challenges, consult a professional trainer for help. With the right approach, most dogs can adapt to being crated comfortably and happily.