Crate training can be beneficial to dogs and their owners. For the dog, a crate can offer an environment where they feel secure and it gives them a place to relax on their own. For the owner, the crate can be a valuable tool for managing your dog’s behavior and keeping them safe.
Since there are many misconceptions about crate training and about the ways crates should be used, it is important for the owners of new puppies to learn the right way to introduce the animal to crate training.
Crate Training Tips
The following are a few tips that can help any person have success with crate training a puppy. The best results will come with starting crate training early in the puppy’s life and with consistency.
- Crate training should be a positive experience. Never try to force a puppy into the crate.
- Start with shorter sessions in the crate and gradually increase the time.
- Remove collars and tags before the puppy goes in the crate. If the collar or tag gets caught on something, it could choke the puppy.
- Use treats or toys to coax the puppy into the crate.
- Give the puppy praise for going in the crate and for coming out when you call him.
- Stay close by when your puppy is still getting used to being in the crate.
- Make the crate comfortable by including things like blankets and toys.
- It is ok to use a crate to manage dangerous or destructive behavior, but it should not be used as a punishment.
- Only leave the puppy in the crate for the recommended amount of time for its age.
- Make sure to give the dog potty breaks and enough time out for play and exercise.
- Have patience. It can take up to six months to fully crate train a puppy.
Time in Crate
When you are thinking about how long you can leave a puppy in the crate, you have two points to consider. One is how long can a puppy be left in the crate at one time. Another consideration is how many hours the dog can spend in the crate over the course of a day.
For puppies that are under the age of six months, you should avoid leaving them in the crate for any more than three hours at one time. They have not mastered potty training yet, and a long stretch in the crate will increase the chances of an incident.
As it concerns the total time a puppy can spend in the crate over an entire day, it will depend on the age of the puppy and how consistent you have been with crate training. Assuming you have been consistent with crate training, the general rule is to take the puppy’s age in months and then add one. As an example, a puppy that is five months old could spend up to six hours a day in the crate. However, that is not six hours at one time. The dog will need potty breaks and time out to stretch and exercise.
Adult dogs that are fully house trained can spend up to eight hours in a crate, but you should avoid that long of a stretch if you can. Even if a dog can hold its bowels and bladder for eight hours, it will start to feel uncomfortable and restless if it is left in the crate for too long. Regardless of age, it is always recommended to give the animal frequent breaks from the crate.
Crate Training Guide
Here is a simple guide to the basics of crate training a puppy. Remember to keep the above-mentioned crate training tips in mind when following these steps to crate training your puppy.
- Make the crate comfortable and inviting by adding blankets and toys. If the puppy is still working on potty training, you should consider lining the bottom with puppy pads.
- Try to start crate training after an activity so the puppy will be ready to relax and lie down.
- Place the crate in an area where the puppy feels comfortable and leave the door open.
- Put a treat or a small amount of kibble in the crate. This will encourage the puppy to go in the crate and explore.
- Use a command to tell the puppy it is time to go in the crate. Something as simple as “crate” should work well.
- Stay near the puppy the first time it is introduced to the crate.
- Give the dog praise when it goes in to explore for the first time.
- Once the dog has had a minute to go in and explore the crate, call him out and provide praise.
- Repeat steps 5-8 a few times.
- Once the puppy seems comfortable in the crate, let him go in and close the door behind him.
- Wait quietly for a few minutes and then open the door to let him out. Make sure to give the dog praise when it comes out of the crate.
- Repeat the process from 5-11 every day and gradually increase the amount of time the puppy stays in the crate.
Crate training does take time and patience, but it is worth it. If you do it right, the puppy will grow to see its crate as a place to rest and relax. Along with that, it will also serve as a place where you can send your dog when it can’t be out and around the house for one reason or another.