Crate training is one of the most misunderstood yet critical dog training processes, being a massive factor in a dog’s mental and physical wellbeing. It’s important to crate train your puppy the right way, with lots of positive reinforcement and guidance. In this blog, we’ll go over the do’s and don'ts of crate training and how you can teach your pup to love their crate!
Crate training is a process in which pet parents provide their dog with a familiar and safe space, known as their “crate.” There are many common misconceptions, like crates being a “jail” for dogs, but a crate should be conditioned to be the opposite of that.
When an owner correctly crate trains their dog, they provide them with an enclosed, private space where the pup can feel safe. A dog should look to their crate as a calming place to go when they feel overwhelmed or frightened, and their safe space should never be invaded.
Crate training is an excellent tool for teaching your dog patience, potty training, and much more. Because of their natural instincts and needs, every dog should be crate trained.
There are many reasons why all dogs should be crate trained! Let’s go over some of the most important ones:
Dogs, by instinct, are den-dwelling animals and need to have somewhere they can personally call home. Having a familiar, cozy environment is exactly something every dog should have. Without a safe space, a dog’s physical and emotional health may be negatively affected.
Driving your dog will be made much safer and easier. Dogs are often restless in cars since they’re small, enclosed, and constantly moving. For the safety of both you and your pup, keeping your dog in a crate is a great way to drive with minimal distractions and maximal safety.
In case of an emergency, you can evacuate your dog efficiently and put them at ease. Your pup will be less anxious when placed in their crate, and it will be less of a hassle to transfer them to a safe environment.
House training will be made much more manageable since dogs don’t like soiling their own bedding. By using an adequately sized crate after it’s been established as your pup’s safe space, they will learn to control their bladders and bowels.
For example, if there is construction, cleaning, or painting, there are many dangerous chemicals and tools that you want your pup to stay away from. If housework goes on, your dog will have a space to rest and stay out of danger. Using a crate, it’s much easier and better for your dog’s emotional wellbeing to be placed in a crate.
If possible, it’s best to start crate training a puppy when they’re about 8 weeks old. Since many owners don’t bring home their pup at this time, crate training as soon as you bring your puppy home is best.
By giving your new puppy a private place filled with treats and toys, your dog will grow up learning that their crate is a safe and happy space. Most puppies are anxious when they come home with their owners for the first time, which is why we recommend establishing that safe space immediately.
When you bring your dog home for the first time, have a spacey crate set up that’s filled with things that dogs love- toys, treats, blankets, and stuffed animals are some great ways to let your dog explore their crate naturally.
Crate training a dog is a simple yet long process. For some dogs, it can take up to 6 months to become entirely comfortable with their crate. To teach your dog to love their crate, follow these steps on the best way to crate train a puppy:
Prepare the crate before you bring your dog home. As stated above, dogs are very anxious when they’re brought home for the first time. Setting up a comfortable, welcoming space before your dog gets home will allow them to discover and explore it at their own pace.
If your dog won’t go into the crate on their own, lure them in with high-value treats. Using high-value treats, like chicken or cheese, is a fantastic way to encourage behavior in dogs that may be difficult or scary for them at first. Read more about high-value treats on this blog!
Play games in the crate! When you’re playing fetch or tug-of-war with your pup, try throwing their toy into their crate. Let your dog enter the crate and run back out. This will establish the crate as a positive, happy place.
Slowly start leaving your dog in the crate for more extended periods. What this means is letting your dog go into their crate by themselves and close the door. Leave the room for a couple seconds, then come back with lots of treats!
Next, put your dog back in the crate, and leave for a bit longer. Do this every so often, and you can prevent separation anxiety while training your pup at the same time!
Every dog is different; therefore, they all have different preferences. Some dogs prefer soft, pillowy crates, while others prefer a flat, sturdy ground. With all the different crates, it can be hard to decide which is suitable for your pup. Let’s go over a few of them:
Metal wire crates are best for your pup if they prefer hard and sturdy crates. These crates are often foldable but difficult to pick up and carry while set up. They’re a great beginner crate for puppies since they’re easy to clean and mostly come with a tray that slides out.
Soft-sided dog crates are suitable for dogs that prefer a soft, bed-like environment. They are very portable and easy to pick up. However, since they are made of fabrics, they are very difficult to clean up. If your pup isn’t completely potty trained yet, it may be trouble cleaning up after their messes.
Plastic dog crates are in the middle of soft-sided and metal crates. These are durable and easy to pick up and transport. However, they are difficult to store when not in use. Additionally, since smells usually burrow in plastic fibers, they can be easy to clean but difficult to remove odors from.
Customized dog crates are perfect for pet parents who love their home decoration and want their pup's crate to match the home aesthetics. A great one to check out is The Finer Rustic who offers durable and decorative dog kennels that your pup will love. You can follow their instagram and check out how beautiful their crates are!
Crate training is just the beginning of you and your dog’s journey- for more training tips, read this blog on Training the Basics for Beginner Trainers!