Chances are, if you’ve made it to this blog post, you’re desperately searching for answers while your new puppy breaks your heart with its mournful cries from its new crate. Fortunately, we have the answers you are looking for. With some time, patience, and perhaps some willpower against those (temporary) earsplitting whines and howls, you will have a pup who considers its crate a safe and comfortable place just for him or her.
So take back your sleepless nights and remove the ear plugs. Stop suffering: learn how to crate train a crying puppy today…
What is Crate Training?
Crate training is helping a dog to enjoy spending time in a crate for multiple purposes. While you might feel like you’re putting your dog in a “cage,” that’s not how your dog sees it. When you give your dog plenty of time and treats to build positive associations with the crate, he will see it as a space in your home that’s just for him.
Puppies already like small, dark, spaces, so it is not a big stretch for them to like a crate if they are introduced properly. Once they understand going in the crate doesn’t mean being isolated from their family, and they have a positive association with the crate through treats and meal times, they will happily go to their crate when it’s time.
While providing a crate for your canine friend can be very good for them, it will take some time to train them to have positive associations with it. According to the American Kennel Club, it can take up to six months of consistent training to get your pup comfortable with their new crate.
What Can Crate Training Do?
According to the Humane Society of the United States, crate training your dog can be a helpful solution for your dog for several reasons: it gives the dog a safe, quiet place to go when things get overwhelming, it prevents damage to your house and your things during puppyhood or house training of adult dogs, and gets your dog used to a crate, which is one safe way to transport a dog in a moving vehicle.
Crate training can help a dog reduce destructive behaviors while you are gone. Eventually, you can expand the dog’s access to a room, and later the entire house, once they’ve shown they can be trusted not to chew anything or make messes.
Your dog’s crate should always have a comfortable bed. You should leave the door open to the crate while you’re home, so the dog can go there if they want to.
What Shouldn’t You Do With a Crate?
According to the American Kennel Club, your dog should never have on a collar or harness when they are in the crate, because of the risk of getting caught on the crate and strangling.
Your dog should never be put in its crate as a form of punishment. You want the crate to be somewhere they feel comfortable and happy. Think of it like a wolf’s den – the crate should be the ultimate place of safety and rest, not somewhere they are banished to when they have been bad.
You can proactively use the crate to prevent misbehavior, according to the Humane Society.
“Putting your dog in a crate with an interactive toy when guests come over to avoid mishaps with food or jumping is more effective than waiting for misbehavior and then putting your dog away,” the Humane Society writes. “Regardless of the timing, using treats to entice your dog into the crate until they love going in on their own will ensure a positive association with it.”
Because every dog needs exercise and interaction daily, dogs should not be in their crates all day and night.
Puppies and adult dogs that are being house trained should not be in a crate for more than a few hours at a time. They will need to go outside for a potty break every 3-4 hours.
Types of Crates
You will want to carefully decide what kind of crate is best for your dog. There are several types of crates to choose from, including:
● Plastic: Commonly referred to as flight kennels, these are the kind you think of using to transport an animal to the vet.
● Fabric: This option features fabric on a rigid, collapsible frame.
● Metal: Made of several collapsible pieces. Some can be adjusted as your puppy grows.
Plastic flight kennels provide a more secluded space, which your dog might like, but metal crates can be easier to clean. You can put a blanket over the top of a metal kennel to make it a cozy little den for your puppy, though.
Crate Training Steps
When you are first starting crate training, you should put the crate somewhere your family spends a lot of time, like the family room or living room. Make sure it’s comfortable, with blankets or a dog bed, and prop the door open so the puppy can go in and out as she pleases. Encourage the dog to go inside the crate with treats and toys, but don’t force them to go.
Meal Times in Crate
After you have introduced your dog to the crate, start placing their meals near the crate. This will help your dog associate good things with the crate. Once they are comfortable with going in the crate, place the food as far back as they will go without getting scared; the goal is to place their food all the way in the back of the crate.
Once he has reached the point of happily eating in the crate, you can begin closing the door behind him while he eats. The first time, open the door as soon as your dog finishes eating; work up to about 10 minutes total after meal time is over.
Practice with Longer Periods of Time
You can restrict your dog there for brief periods of time while you’re home until they are eating their normal meals there without displaying any signs of fear or distress.
● Invite them to the crate and reward them there.
● Give them a vocal cue, like “crate,” to enter. Pointing to the interior of the crate while holding a treat will entice them.
● Give your dog a reward, praise them, and then shut the door when they’ve gone inside the crate.
● Spend five to ten minutes sitting quietly near the crate before leaving to spend some time in another room. When you get back, sit quietly for a short while before letting them out.
● Several times a day, repeat this practice, progressively extending the time you leave them in the container and your absence from sight.
● You can start putting your dog in the crate when you’re gone for brief periods of time and/or letting them sleep there at night once they can remain calmly in the crate for around 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight. This could take a few days up to a few weeks.
Crate When You Leave
You can start placing your dog in the crate for brief durations when you leave the house after they can stay there for around 30 minutes without getting scared or agitated.
Using your standard command and a reward, place them in the crate. In the crate, you might also wish to leave them with a couple of safe toys.
Change the time you put your dog in the crate as you go through your “getting ready to leave” routine. You can crate them anywhere between five and 20 minutes before you leave, though you shouldn’t crate them for a lengthy period.
Your departures should be brief and unfussy; avoid becoming sentimental. Offer your dog a treat for going into the crate, give them some brief praise, and then depart.
Crate at Night
Using your standard command and a treat, put your dog in the crate.
The simplest remedy if your puppy is crying or whining at night in her crate is to place the crate next to your bed. Often, all it takes for the puppy to feel safe and go back to sleep is for you to reach inside the crate and let her know you’re there. If your puppy won’t relax, it’s possible that she has to be carried outside to use the restroom.
Puppies frequently need to go outdoors at night to potty, so it’s important to be able to hear them when they cry out to be taken outside. It’s best to initially keep older dogs close by so they don’t associate the crate with loneliness.
While time spent with your dog, even sleep time, is an opportunity to deepen the bond, once your dog is sleeping soundly through the night with the crate next to you, you can start to gradually relocate it to another location further from you.
While it will take time and patience, you will be able to help your pup or older dog come to think of their crate as a special, safe, comfortable place for them to go when they are uncomfortable or tired.
Though you may be sleep deprived for a while as your new family member becomes accustomed to their new home, providing a crate for your dog and taking measured steps to familiarize them with it will show many benefits in the years to come.
Until Next Time,