Some dog owners frown upon crate training because they think it’s cruel to confine dogs, especially at night. However, many insist on using it for various purposes. One of the most common reasons why dog owners do crate training is because it’s the easiest and least stressful method to teach desirable behaviors to a young dog. Additionally, crate training can help in house training your pup until he/she gets used to the new surroundings.
So how exactly should you do it? Where should you start? What should you avoid doing? Find out more about how you can crate train your pup successfully at any time of the day in the short guide below.
Things you need to know before crate training a dog
Before we deep dive into the steps, you should follow, you need to remember a few things. For starters, you should never use crate training as a form of punishment. Putting your pup inside the crate because you’re too busy to deal with his/her tantrums could lead to problems in the future. Instead of viewing the crate as a haven, it becomes a source of stress or trauma for them.
Additionally, you shouldn’t keep your puppy inside the crate longer than he/she can hold his pee or poo. Otherwise, he/she might end up soiling the crate. You shouldn’t force your dog to potty inside your home if he/she gets used to doing it outside. This only leads to a stressed and unhappy puppy.
Lastly, you should mind the time your dog spends inside the crate. In the morning, you shouldn’t go beyond the five-hour mark, especially if you have a very social puppy. At night time, it’s OK to let him/her stay inside the crate for up to 8 hours, maximum.
Recognizing a dog with separation anxietySet featured image
While crate training works wonders for many dogs, some find it incredibly stressful. If your puppy has separation anxiety, it’s best not to proceed with crate training. Some dogs with separation anxiety end up biting through the crate, injuring themselves during the process. Here are some common symptoms of separation anxiety according to the American Kennel Club:
- Excessive howling or barking
- Abnormal panting, drooling, or salivating
- Trembling, whining, or pacing when you leave your pup
- Destructive behavior like chewing on the crate or beddings
If you spot two or more of the symptoms listed above, it may help not to do crate training. You can try using other methods like setting up a playpen or taking your pup to a doggie daycare or training school.
Steps to crate training your puppy
Ready to start your puppy’s crate training? Here are the things you will need to prepare to ensure its success:
- Your dog’s crate – You can choose from three types, namely plastic, collapsible, and fabric. Make sure to select the most comfortable option.
- Setting up your expectations – Note that each puppy has a different ability to learn, so you need to be extra patient. More importantly, you must set reasonable expectations.
- Finding the best spot for the crate – Ideally, you should set up the crate where you and the rest of your family hang out. This will help your dog feel more relaxed when you start crate training.
- Introducing your dog to the crate – Feel free to use treats to guide your pup into the crate. Alternatively, you can bring him/her to the crate and use a lot of encouragement.
- Creating positive association through food – Encourage positive association by feeding meals near the crate. If your pup isn’t entirely comfortable with crate training yet, you can put the feeding bowl inside. Once he/she starts getting settled, you can close the door.
- Repeat practicing – If your puppy doesn’t show signs of anxiety, you can try to confine him/her in the crate for an extended period. You can use treats or verbal cues to command your puppy to go inside. Feel free to increase the duration each day and check the dog’s reaction.
- Use the crate when you leave the house – Experiment leaving your dog in the crate when you go on a short trip to the mall or grocery. Make sure to provide some treats and toys to keep your pup comfy.
- Practice crate training at night – Once your pup is completely adapted to staying in the crate, you may begin practicing crate training at night time. You can place it near the bed or your room in the first few days, then eventually move it to another location after a couple of weeks.
How to deal with common dog reactions during crate training
Earlier, we talked about the importance of setting realistic expectations. That’s because each dog has a different temperament and learning capability. Also, each dog tends to react differently during training. You may or may not have to deal with specific reactions such as:
- Whining – Typically, dogs express their anxiousness through whining. If your dog starts whining, you should try to ignore it and wait for it to stop. As much as possible, you should avoid screaming at your puppy. If the whining doesn’t go away, it may be better to let him/her out.
- Separation anxiety – We have mentioned in the previous section that some puppies show separation anxiety symptoms. If you encounter these signs, it’s best to consult with a professional trainer or a dog specialist. Again, if you force your pup to undergo crate training, it may only result in more serious behavioral problems such as aggression, biting, or chewing. By doing so, you can correct the behavior and help your pup become well-mannered.
Helping your puppy enjoy a quality life
Besides teaching your pup to get used to a crate, you can also enroll him/her in basic obedience training. It will help your puppy learn the essential commands like sit and stay. You also have the option to enroll in a puppy training program to earn socialization concepts and know how to respond to the environment.
Here at Delaware K9 Academy, we cater to all kinds of dogs. Whatever breed or age your dog is, you can find a suitable training program to improve his/her skills and demeanor. Contact us today for more information.