Have you ever tried to go to sleep with your puppy’s crate next to your bed, but find yourself restless because of his consistent whines? How many of you give up and end up letting your puppy in bed with you for the night? You really can teach your puppy how to love his crate and enjoy being in it on his own to sleep in, settle in while you are away, or to travel in with easy and fun training games!
Most people like to think of crate training as the same thing as house breaking their new puppy. That simply is not the case! Crate training is just another tool in the toolbox of potty training, and is only one part of the entire training process. Crate training is helping your puppy feel comfortable, relaxed and confident in his own environment, and does not necessarily always need an actual crate!
The idea behind crate training is more open than just using a metal cage that you bought at the local pet store. You can use a puppy play pen or even a small room that you puppy can be confined in. You may wish to use a crate at night for you puppy to sleep soundly without the possibility of a potty accident and a larger pen or small room during the day when you cannot keep your eye on him at all times. Use versatility in crate training to fit your life style ad your puppy’s needs to make it a real success!
Set Your Puppy Up For Success!
Before you begin, make sure that the crate you are using has enough room for a bed or blanket and your puppy is able to turn around, stand, and lie down comfortably. Next, you should know, understand and accept that you should never, ever force a puppy into his crate! If you pick him up, shove him into his crate, shut the door and walk away all you did was teach him to fear the crate! This is the exact opposite of what you want, as the crate should never be used as any type of punishment for any reason, even if you did not realize that you were punishing you dog.
Condition your puppy to love his crate and make him want to go in when you ask him to through positive reinforcement. The training game is simple, and starts with just a handful of super yummy treats. Show your puppy that you have treats, and lay one just on the inside of the crate door. When he reaches in to get it, either click your clicker or say a quick “Yes!” to mark the correct behavior of his head going in. Picking up and eating the treat is his reward. Continue doing this, and as he gets more comfortable, start tossing the treat further into the crate until he has to step all the way in to get it, and turn around to come back out. For every second that he stays in the crate after eating the treat, give him another click or “Yep!” and hand him a treat.
Add in a vocal command when you toss in the treat, such as “Go to bed!” and continue with this training game. Make each game last no more than 5 minutes and you can do it a few times a day! At this rate, most puppies become crate trained within about 3 to 5 days. Move at his pace and stay within his comfort zone for sure success!
With practice you will be able to tell your puppy to go into his crate, mark the behavior once he is in and then give him the treat! Then you can start working on closing the door. Give your voice command, and mark the behavior of him going in, but don’t give him the treat just yet! Close the door without latching it and hand him the treat through the bars. This reinforces the door being closed and shows him that being inside the crate is what gets him the reward, not coming out of it!
The Crate In Use
There is a time to use the crate and a time when other measures should be taken. For example, if you intend to leave your puppy home alone all day, don’t confinehim to such a small space with no ability to eliminate. Instead, use the same conditioning technique as crate training to help him become comfortable in a large puppy play pen or room with a dish of water, a few toys and a comfy bed. Don’t forget to ask a friend, family member or neighbor to stop in to take your puppy potty every few hours! Proper use of the crate, such as keeping your puppy quiet, relaxed and sleeping throughout the night or to confine him for your half an hour errand run with the addition of continued positive reinforcement will help your puppy love his crate!