It is important to keep an open mind when crate training a puppy; maintaining patience is key! Sometimes you have to get creative and think outside of the box. I am here to give you a few ideas on how to crate train as well as the benefits to crate training your puppy and while they are still young, as this should help with current training and with future endeavors.
There are several situations where having your dog crate trained will be a huge benefit to you and your dogs life. Not only will you have peace of mind when leaving your mischievous pup; you will also help them to learn a schedule which in turn will help ease potty training and chaos at meal times.
Many people look at crating a dog or puppy as being cruel, this is not the case if done properly. On the other hand, there are people who use a crate as a negative training tool. In these cases their pup will usually be afraid to go into the crate as they think they are in trouble. I do not support of encourage this training and only look at crates and crate training in a positive light. If a tool does not add benefit to mine and my dogs life I see no reason to even introduce it.
A crate should be looked at as your dogs “room”. Your dog should view it as a place to be safe and solitary, like their safe haven. This taps into your dog’s natural instincts with wild dogs and wolves being den animals. Leaving the crate door open when not in use is recommended; this allows your dog to decide when it wants to go in.
Particularly when they are feeling uncomfortable, a crate gives them a place to retreat so they can escape a leery situation where otherwise the dog might use other forces to escape, also known as the “Fight” or “Flight” response. If we do not provide a safe place for them to “flight” to they may end up “fighting” and injure another animal or possibly a child, at no fault of their own.
When you first bring your puppy home is when the crate should be introduced and utilized. Setting up the crate beforehand will make it readily available. Choosing the correct size as well as learning what to put inside the crate will set you and your pup up for success!
When choosing a crate we all want to go as BIG as possible, this does not help your canine. Too big of a crate will leave too much room for your young one to go potty in and not necessarily be bothered by it. This can increase bad habits. Most animals will not use the bathroom in their “den.””
The crate should be big enough so that your canine can stand up without crouching and is able to turn around and find a comfortable position. It should be small enough so that it does not have extra space in the back that your puppy will most certainly utilize for potty breaks.
This will confuse your puppy when potty training and the crate will be a turn into more of a disadvantage. If you already happened to get a big crate for your puppy to grow into you can block off the back of the crate; you can do this with cardboard to create a divider or some crates already come with that “extra piece” also known as the divider.
You want to make your pups crate is the “perfect puppy room.” making it comfortable by adding a bed or blanket and maybe a t-shirt or something that smells like you will help them to feel safe and secure. NOTE: if your puppy begins to destroy blankets/beds etc. remove them from the crate. We want them to be comfortable but we do not want to risk their safety.
The crate should be placed in a quiet, dark, low-traffic spot for bedtime with free access to the crate when not being crated.
When you decide to crate train your puppy you will want to start from day one. Getting them used to the crate early on will help training tremendously! The crate is a great tool to use when potty training, as mentioned above they naturally do not want to soil their den. Crating can also help get them on a schedule.
Your puppy should not be left in the crate all day and be expected to not soil their bed. Puppies should ideally be taken out every hour as well as before and after meals, large water consumption and even playing. This time should be able to be extended as they grow and start to learn a schedule; although, crating excessively, all day-every day, is discouraged and can lead to anxiety and depression. Those are the main issues we are trying to avoid.
Most puppies will cry at night until they get used to the crate and being alone. Yes, they would much rather be doing ANYTHING other than sleeping. When dealing with this you should check on them to make sure there are no messes in the crate and that nothing is wrong, they should be left in the crate while checking, then left alone to see if they settle on their own.
The worst thing we can do would being getting them out of the crate and giving them the attention they have been whining for. Doing this will confirm for them how easy it is to get out of the crate and encourage the behavior making it much more difficult to crate train them. Other alternatives consist of covering the crate with a sheet or blanket, this takes away visual stimulation and usually helps them to calm down.
Some owners also use a crate for meal times; this helps to keep your pup from eating another pets’ food and vice versa. Using a crate for meal times can help your pup get on a feeding schedule. Another benefit is creating an association to the crate with meal times which can only mean great things! Your puppy will be much more willing to go in the crate, this will help them make the association that the crate is their den as well.
To add to this we can place “hidden treasures” within their crate for them to randomly find. This will help bring out their natural foraging instinct and even provides mental stimulation. A couple examples include safe chew bones, peanut butter filled Kong and even puzzle toys that dispense treats. It is important that these things are not left in the crate after they are done or kept in the crate all the time, doing this will take away its “special” effects for your puppy as they will get used to having it anytime they wish.
Properly crate training a puppy will lead to a well-behaved adult by creating a feeling of security, a place for them to retreat and a schedule. While crate training is super fantastic for training your puppies and keeping them out of trouble you will find the benefits of already having your pup crate trained throughout their lives is invaluable.
Some situations include family events, having lots of people over can make your pup a little anxious. This can create the perfect timing for your pup to get into something while you are distracted, or may make them fearful, leading to more extensive anxiety disorders.
A crate is great for traveling, it helps to keep us and our best friends safe and secure in the car, plane or train. When leaving your pup alone for any amount of time, you may be able to leave them out longer as they grow and mature but the crate has saved lots of household items and most importantly your pup (and wallet) from a foreign body surgery.
Overall, proper crate training is invaluable in our and our furry best friends lives! Keep them safe, keep them secure and crated when not under direct supervision.
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