Pet damage prices cost American families over $3 billion every year. While you might not think your new puppy will contribute to this number much, dogs have the potential to cause more property damage than cats.
And most of this damage will take place when you aren’t watching.
That’s why it’s a good idea to crate train your puppy. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, learning how to crate train a puppy might seem overwhelming.
Take a deep breath.
It isn’t as hard as you think. We’ve put together this quick guide to help you get started.
So let’s dive in!
Getting the Crate Ready
Before you can start crate training your new puppy you have to set up the crate. This might seem obvious, but it takes a bit more work than throwing a blanket over the bottom and calling it good.
Here’s what you need to know to create a crate your puppy will want to be in.
Buy the Right Size
If you already have a crate, don’t just assume it will work. Make sure it’s the right size first. (Although a puppy can fit into most crates, they’ll get bigger fast.)
Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around inside their crate. This means it has to be at least two inches taller than them. If you want to buy a crate that your dog can use their whole life, find the average hight of your puppy’s breed. Then add two extra inches for smaller breeds or four extra inches for bigger breeds.
Once you have the measurements, it’s time to think about the material.
Plastic or fabric crates aren’t made of strong material. Because of this, you should only use these types of crates when you’re home with your puppy. If you want to leave your puppy in the crate while you’re gone or overnight, you should buy a metal crate.
Make It Fun
Put the crate in an area of the house where you spend a lot of time, such as the living room or kitchen. This will give the crate a positive, inclusive feel.
Fill the inside of the crate with a dog bed, soft blankets, or pillows. Your dog won’t want to spend time in the crate if it isn’t comfortable.
You should also add a few toys for your energetic puppy to play with.
Introduce Your Puppy
Be slow and patient when introducing your puppy to their new crate.
Don’t pick them up and plop them inside right away. Instead, let them explore the area around the crate first. Put a few treats on the floor at the door of the crate to get your puppy used to going near it. After your puppy is comfortable around the crate, put some treats in the back of the crate to encourage them to go inside.
This will give your puppy a positive experience with the crate, meaning they’ll be more willing to go inside in the future.
Getting Your Puppy Used to Staying in the Crate
After you’ve introduced your puppy to their crate, you should start putting them inside for longer and longer periods of time. But again, don’t just place them inside the crate and leave.
Follow these tips to crate train your puppy when you’re both at home and away.
When You’re Home
You want to keep building positive experiences with the crate.
An easy way to do this is to feed your puppy their meals in their crate. Start by moving the bowl of food closer to the crate every meal. Then put the bowl inside.
As soon as your puppy enters the crate to eat close the door.
You should open the door right as they finish eating at first. But over time, try having your puppy another minute longer each time. Repeat this process until they can stay in the crate for 10 minutes after eating.
When You’re In Another Room
The next step of the crate training process is to leave your puppy in the crate while you go into another room in the house.
Encourage your dog to get into the crate with lots of praise and—if needed—treats. Then close the door and sit with them in the room for 10 minutes. After that, step out of the room and wait a few minutes. Come back into the room and sit with your puppy another 10 minutes before letting them out.
Repeat this process multiple times a day until your puppy can spend 30 minutes alone with you in the house.
When You’re Gone
Now you’re ready to start spending some time away from the home.
Put your dog into the crate at least five minutes before you leave. Stay calm as you leave the house. Giving your puppy emotional goodbyes can make them anxious. When you get back home, give your puppy a chance to calm down before you let them out.
Only leave your puppy alone for short periods—about 30 minutes—at first. Work on staying away for longer and longer time frames.
When You’re Sleeping
If you plan to keep your puppy in the crate overnight, you may want to move it into your room.
This will help dogs who have separation anxiety stay calm. It’ll also keep them close so you can easily get up and take them out during the night (which you’ll have to do several times when they’re young).
Once your dog gets older and doesn’t have trouble sleeping in their crate for the whole night, you can move the crate to a different location.
When You’re on the Road
Once your dog is used to staying in their crate, you can use it for easy transportation to the vet, park, etc.
But if you plan to travel with your dog crate, you may need to get something a little more heavy-duty, such as an impact crate. This is especially true if you have to take your dog on an airplane.
How to Crate Train a Puppy That’s Full of Energy
Learning how to crate train isn’t hard, but the actual training part times time and patience. Your puppy might not be comfortable in the crate at first, but if you stick to these tips, you’ll be able to leave the house or sleep through the night with your puppy safely in their crate.
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