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How to Crate Train a Puppy

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There is so much to learn when you get a new puppy. Crate training your puppy or dog is an excellent way to teach it good behavior and create a comforting space for it. Crate training can also make housetraining your puppy easier.

Crate training:

  • Helps teach your dog proper behavior (e.g. chewing and elimination habits)
  • Prevents damage to your furniture and other possessions while you're away or sleeping
  • Provides a comfortable, secure place for your dog
  • Makes traveling with your pet easier
  • Makes stays at the veterinary hospital or kennel easier and less stressful for your dog.
  • Helps your dog better understand his place in the household hierarchy

Important things to know

Before you begin crate training your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the crate is large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably.
  • Place the crate in a room where there is activity, (e.g., your family room) because dogs are social animals and will otherwise feel isolated.

Your dog's crate should be used as his retreat or "sanctuary.'' It should never be used as the place to put your dog when it is being punished. Use a separate space if you wish to put your dog in "time out'' for misbehaving.

Start early by crate training puppies

It's best to begin your puppy's crate training early so it has ample time to adapt to the crate. Here are a few tips for making this a positive experience for your puppy:

  • Place the puppy's favorite treats, toys or food in the crate to encourage it to enter the crate on its own.
  • The first time you confine your puppy to the crate, it should be ready to take a nap, so make sure you schedule this for after a play or exercise session, as well as after it has been outside to eliminate.
  • It's a good idea to leave the room, but make sure you stay close enough to be able to hear the puppy.
  • It is normal for your puppy to cry or whine at first, but never reward it by letting it out when it cries. It may be difficult, but you must ignore the cries until they stop before you release the puppy from the crate.
  • If your puppy does not quiet down on his own, you may try squirting the pup with a water sprayer or shaking a can with pebbles or coins to interrupt the cries.  Scolding your pup for crying may have the adverse affect of continuing the crying behavior since the puppy has gotten your attention for crying.  Positive reinforcement such as using treats or toys to encourage good cage behavior has been found to be an effective technique.
Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V. M. D.
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