Easy steps to crate train your dog (or puppy)
You've made a big decision to crate train your puppy. How do you get started? It's easy....
Equipment and Location
You can use a metal collapsible crate with a tray floor as long as the crate is large enough for the dog to stand, turn and stretch out. In these cases some dogs feel more secure if a blanket is draped over the crate.
A plastic traveling crate or a homemade crate also can be used. Playpens or barricades also may be successful as long as they are indestructible and escape proof!
Because dogs are social animals, an ideal location for the crate is a room where the family spends time such as the kitchen, den or bedroom, as opposed to an isolated laundry or furnace room.For the crate to remain a positive, enjoyable retreat, the dog should never be placed in the crate for punishment. If time-out is used as punishment, a washroom, laundry room or basement can be used for social isolation.
A radio or television may help to calm the dog when it is alone. They also help mask environmental noises which can stimulate the dog to vocalize.
Steps to Crate Training
- Introduce the puppy to the crate as soon as it is brought home and as early in the day as possible. The crate should be left open so the puppy can voluntarily enter the crate for food, water, toys or shelter. My making all crate experiences pleasant the puppy should feel secure and comfortable in its crate.
- Choose an outdoor location for the puppy to eliminate. A short direct route is best. Take the puppy to the location, wait until the puppy eliminates, and reward the puppy lavishly with praise or food. After some play and exercise, place the puppy in its crate with water, a toy, and a treat and close the door.
- Leave the room but remain close enough to hear the puppy. It is normal for puppies to cry or whine when separated for their “pack”. Escape behaviour and vocalization is to be expected when a dog is first placed into its crate. If the escape behaviour is short or mild, ignore the dog until the crying stops. Never let your dog out of the crate unless they are quiet. This teaches them that quiet behaviour is rewarded and that crying will not make their owner release them.
Should I Punish the Puppy for Crying or Escaping?
Punishment may be necessary if crying does not stop on its own. For punishment to be successful, it must be harsh enough to stop the behaviour and withdrawn as soon as it is quiet.
- A shaker can (a sealed can filled with coins or marbles) can be tossed at the crate when the pup barks.
- Other types of punishment include water sprayers or loud sounds (alarm, air horn, Barker Breaker, Yapper Zapper, PetAgree etc.)
If possible, the owner should remain out of sight when administering punishment.
By plugging in an alarm, tape recorder, Water Pik or hair dryer beside the crate and turning it on by using a remote control switch each time the dog barks, the dog can be taught that barking leads to punishment whether the owner is present or not.
When the barking ceases, the punishment is stopped. Bark collars and alarms that go off automatically each time the dog barks are also available for persistent or difficult problems. Any type of punishment must be used with caution, however since it can exacerbate the vocalization problem of a very anxious pet.
How to Progress with Crate Training
- Place the puppy in it's crate a few times before the end of the day. Each time, increase the amount of time that the dog stays in the crate before letting them out. Remember to give the puppy exercise and a chance to eliminate before locking them in the crate.
- At bedtime the dog should be exercised, locked in its crate and left for the night. Do not go to the dog if it cries. Remote punishment can be used to deter crying. Alternately the crate could be kept in the bedroom.
- If the puppy sleeps on one end of the crate and eliminates in the other, a divider can be installed to keep the puppy in a smaller area.
- Never keep a puppy in its crate for longer than it can control itself or it may be forced to eliminate itself in the crate. If the puppy must be left for long periods in which it might eliminate, it should be confined to an area larger than the crate. As the puppy gets older, its control increases and it can be left longer in its crate.