Dogs and puppies are NATURAL ‘den creatures’ — so why not train your dog naturally with their very own crate ‘den’?
(It also helps with house training your dog, and other common dog obedience issues as well!)
Like basic obedience training, puppy crate training helps establish certain boundaries. Puppy crate training is especially helpful during puppy house training, and for fixing or preventing behavior problems.
The Hands Off Dog Training Formula helps you with just that — training your dog to love their ‘den’, how to use the crate for house training your dog, and when (and when not) to use the crate for obedience training!
For example… using a crate lets you show the puppy there are things in your home they have no business being around, that there are times to restrain themselves, and the basics of having time alone. This helps you to deal with a variety of different problem behaviors before they ever come up!
After puppy crate training, the dog will see the crate as their personal sanctuary (it’s their natural den after all!). In the crate, they’re safe, they have privacy, they don’t worry about being corrected, and they can easily cope with confusing stimulus.
House Training via Puppy Crate Training
Using a crate helps you teach your puppy that there are right and wrong places to use the restroom. This is especially helpful if you’re going to train your puppy to always “go” outside, like most households do.
Protection from Harm via Puppy Crate Training
One of the best ways to show that some objects must be avoided, is through puppy crate training. Restrain them early in life in the presence of those objects. Let’s say you’re rewiring your stereo, or working with power tools. Using puppy crate training at those times, will trigger the choice later in life to self-restrain.
Teaching Respect for Your Property via Puppy Crate Training
To teach your puppy the difference between what’s theirs, and what’s yours, use puppy crate training and a chew toy. During the first days, put them in a crate with their toys and allow them to chew, slobber and play. Meanwhile, they’re separated from things they’re not allowed to chew on, like the remote controls and furniture. Then, when they’re outside the crate, they still have those toys. They’ll identify these objects belong to them, because they were inside the crate.
The Hands Off Dog Training Formula shows you how to properly crate train your puppy or dog, and the mistakes to avoid, as well as other dog obedience training tricks and tips!
Preventing Separation Anxiety through Puppy Crate Training
Occasionally putting your puppy in a crate will help them get used to being alone, so that when you have to go to work or on vacation, your puppy will already be accustomed to entertaining itself and feeling secure while alone.
The Wrong Way to Crate Your Puppy
There are misconceptions about crate training, which I’d like to deal with right away. Crate training is certainly humane – so long as you don’t get in the habit of leaving your puppy caged every day. Use the crate humanely, to train your puppy not to chew on your remote controls, scratch your furniture, run rampant when it’s not safe to, or panic when you’re not around.
Don’t use the crate for punishment. That does the opposite of what you want. If you use a crate as punishment, the dog learns that, any time they’re alone, they’re being punished! Punishing your puppy or dog by putting them in a crate, will cause separation anxieties.
Other Benefits of Crate Training Your Puppy
- If you have friends or family visiting who are allergic to puppies or dogs, then the puppy won’t be so shocked if they must be confined while those people are visiting.
- If you’re going to move or travel with your dog, then getting them used to being in a crate will make that process far less stressful, both for them, and for you. This also applies for when you’re going to visit a friend or the veterinarian.
- If you plan on employing your dog for any reason, such as in competitions, sports, or for example as a farm hand or a hunting dog, then crating the puppy in-between activities will establish a schedule for taking appropriate breaks from those duties. In this case, the crate will help train them to avoid overworking themselves, something that a loyal working dog might not otherwise know.
As You Can See, the Hands Off Training Formula Extends Beyond Crate Training, and goes into a complete formula for a well behaved, trained member of the family!
How to Shop for a Dog Crate
There are plastic crates, which are less expensive than metal or wood crates, and there are all wire mesh crates, which are often collapsible.
If you’re looking for a recommendation on strong>where to buy a dog crate, Dog.com has always been very good to me. They have a decent variety of products and frequently run specials. Their shipping and quality of service is top-shelf.
Choose the Humane Crate!
When you’re shopping for a crate, keep in mind that your puppy is going to grow. Won’t it be nice if you don’t have to replace this crate as they grow? Select a crate that will be the right size for your dog when fully-grown.
Consider a partition in the crate, so it won’t seem to be shrinking around the puppy over the years. Also, think ahead about the sizes of places where the crate might be used, such as the size of your vehicle, if you plan on using the crate for travel.
There should also be room for bedding, to make your dog more comfortable than laying on plastic, and for chew toys and water. Remembering these considerations will mean the difference between the crate being your puppy’s personal sanctuary, vs being an unpleasant and claustrophobic cage.
When you introduce your puppy to his or her crate, it needs to be a positive experience. Don’t force your dog into the crate as a way of introducing it. That could make them never want to be near the crate again!
There are basically two approaches to crate training. This first is the normal process for puppy crate training. The second is a list that you can try if your puppy resists the standard method. In both cases, begin establishing a command word or phrase, such as “go to you crate,” and speak it repeatedly every time he or she is inside it.
For Detailed Step-By-Step Video and Instructions on Crate Training and other Dog Obedience Training Methods.
To start you off… here’s the first few steps to guide you in your for puppy crate training sessions:
- Introduce the crate to wherever you and your puppy will be, leaving the door wide open for them. With the crate positioned in plain sight where they can investigate it from all sides, ignore the crate and just hang out with your puppy.
- Eventually, put some treats, toys, or some other “optional” thing – not their food and water bowl, at this stage – inside the crate. Encourage the puppy to go get those treats or toys.
- Put whatever your puppy sleeps on, or some other favorite object they associate with resting, into the crate, so that they’ll realize this crate is something they should learn to rest in.
For All 11 Crate Training Steps.
If you take all the steps in order, and if you do them gradually, and allow your puppy to tell you what his level of comfort is so that you aren’t creating a negative relationship with the crate, then your puppy will eventually have no complaints about being in the crate when necessary.
Some puppies will resist crate training at first. This doesn’t change the fact that you must avoid being forceful. Here are some tips that will help you get past this unwillingness to be crate-trained.
- Increase the time you spend on the first step above. Let a week go by where the crate is simply sitting there, with the door wide open, but without making any attempt to get them to go inside of it.
- Pay attention to your puppy so that, any time the puppy even so much as looks at the crate, you can provide instant praise. This will begin to help the puppy associate the crate with praise and treats.
- Once that becomes routine, your puppy will start requesting praise by paying attention to the crate. At this point, start withholding that praise or those cookies until the puppy actually goes up to the crate, sniffs at it, etc.
- Next, once that becomes normal, begin withholding the praise again. At this point you expect the puppy to go willingly into the crate in order to get the praise or cookies. Once he enters the crate, shower him or her with love. At this point, you should absolutely require the puppy to go inside the crate, on his own or in response to your command, before you provide positive reinforcement.
- Once you’ve had success with these previous steps, then start with the numbered steps further up. Depending on how difficult it was for your puppy to overcome his unwillingness, you can choose any of the steps to pick up with at this point. Start from step 2 (placing his favorite toy or treat inside the crate and expecting him to fetch it willingly) if it’s been difficult, or leap closer to step 7 (beginning to build his tolerance to being in the crate with the door closed) if these steps went smoothly.
Don’t forget to establish a command phrase early-on with you crate training. In general, you should only use the command phrase starting at the step where your puppy goes inside the crate, so that they associate that phrase exclusively with being inside it.
How to Make Sure Crate Training is Safe and Humane
Here are some additional tips to make sure your crate-training process is safe and humane. These tips will avoid both the risk of stress, and the risk of injury or death, during the crate training process. That way, you can be sure that the crate isn’t becoming a form of subtle abuse.
- Make sure to take off your puppy’s collar and leash before he goes into the crate, to avoid any risk of your puppy strangling himself.
- Don’t keep the puppy inside of the crate for long enough that he must go to the bathroom inside of it. Make sure that, if he does go to the bathroom inside of the crate, you realize this is your fault, and not the puppy’s. Puppies have limited control over waiting to eliminate.
- Don’t confine your puppy to a crate in direct sunlight or any other hot, suffocating space such as inside a car or a small, enclosed room. You never want to combine being in the crate, with being hot and uncomfortable.
- Avoid the habit of leaving your puppy in the crate for long periods of time on a regular basis. Your pet does not belong inside of a cage as a normal, everyday part of their life. The crate can be used for travel, for various kinds of training sessions, and even for sleeping. If you leave them in the crate all day on a regular basis, it’s torture.
- Whenever there are times that you need to put your puppy in the crate, this is going to prevent them from using up their natural day-to-day energy. This means you should offset crate time, with extra play and exercise.
- Don’t get into the habit of putting your puppy into the crate only when you go to work or leave the house. If you do that, you’re risking separation anxiety, which is the number one mental health risk for dogs.
Follow a simple plan like what I’ve described above, and remember that crate training must be gradual. If your puppy is whining and crying in the crate, you’re leaving them in the crate too long. Done correctly, this will allow you to use the crate in appropriate ways that are good for your dog and the other training purposes I describe on this site.
For some further information about crate-training your puppy, I highly recommend Hands Off Training Forumla.
Return to the general dog training guide, or the puppy training section.