Everything You Need To Know On How To Crate Train A Puppy

Everything You Need To Know On How To Crate Train A Puppy
Chomps Dog Training
July 4, 2022

Crate training is one of the essential skills a dog can learn in its lifetime. Crate training, also known as kennel training, is the process of teaching your dog to remain calm in its crate. When you first bring a puppy home, kennel training is one of the fundamental skills you can begin training immediately to ensure a smooth transition into your home. Below are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about crate training.

Why Is Crate Training Important?

Kennel time is invaluable for dog training, safety, and emergency response. Some of the top reasons to crate train your dog include:

  • Safety The reality is that we can't be with our puppies 24/7. It would help if you always crate young unsupervised puppies to keep them safe and out of trouble and avoid building destructive habits in the house.
  • Housebreaking Establishing a potty training schedule and using the crate to give your puppy breaks throughout the day is essential to successful housebreaking. If you allow your puppy to free roam the house unsupervised, it is easy to forget how long ago it was let out and can cause potty accidents.
  • Establish a healthy sleep schedule. Just like children, puppies do not always recognize when they are tired and need sleep, leading to misbehaving and sudden bursts of energy. Crating your puppy and giving it the rest it needs will help ensure correct development, adjust to your daily schedule, and sleep through the night. Crate time makes it very clear to your puppy when it is time to rest, when it is time to go to the bathroom, and when it is time to hang out.
  • Prevent separation anxiety. When introduced correctly, crate training will teach your puppy to self-soothe and relax regardless of whether or not you are home. This training may not sound as flashy or exciting as teaching your dog to do a handstand or play dead, but it is a skill that will pay dividends in terms of quality of life and your relationship with your dog.
  • Emergency preparedness You never know when you will need to crate your dog in an emergency. Overnight vet visits, emergency evacuations, and plane rides are some of the most common situations in which dogs must be crated outside the house. These events are already stressful, so conditioning your dog early to the crate will help it feel more comfortable in unplanned situations.

Is Crate Training Cruel?

No, it is not cruel to kennel train a dog. Observational studies on wolves have repeatedly shown that it is natural for canines to spend multiple hours per day in dens or caves. Like wolves, dogs need a space to feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed. When introduced appropriately, dogs enjoy spending time in their crate. Time in their kennel can prevent separation anxiety, a distressing condition for dogs and their owners. Be sure to provide enough mental and physical stimulation throughout the day and let your dog out to the bathroom as needed.

How Do I Choose The Right Crate For My Puppy?

Choosing the correct crate size for your puppy ensures comfort and facilitates success when it comes to potty training. It is natural not to choose a kennel that is too small. However, crating your dog in a mansion-sized enclosure is also not recommended. Like wolves, dogs enjoy tight, den-like space to relax. Moreover, your puppy may have frequent accidents if a kennel is too large.

An adequately fitted crate just big enough for your dog to stand and turn around comfortably will best suit your pet. Your dog will likely nap or relax in the kennel, but you can leave a few chew toys with it to keep it company. While buying an adult-sized crate for your puppy might be tempting, the additional investment in puppy-sized crates will pay dividends during training.

Can I Put A Bed In My Puppy's Crate?

While dog beds or mats are unnecessary, many owners place them inside their dog's crate for additional comfort. Before putting a bed in your dog's kennel, consider whether your dog is potty trained and if destructive behaviors are likely to happen. If your dog is having accidents in its crate, wait until you have consistent success with potty training before introducing a bed. When you decide to put a bed in the kennel under supervision, present it in small intervals to ensure that it does not get shredded. This approach will take time, but it will prevent the bad habit of destroying beds or mats.

How To Introduce Your Puppy To The Crate?

Set up your puppy's crate in a quiet area in your house that you can easily hear from other rooms. We like to play a few luring games to get puppies comfortable with going in and out of the crate. Lure your puppy near its kennel by using high-value treats (we like Freshpet's Vital wet food rolls cut into cubes). Throw treats near the open door and work your way to the back of the crate. When your puppy goes in the kennel, you can keep throwing food inside to build duration or throw food outside the kennel to give your puppy a break. Once the puppy is comfortable going in and out, you can begin closing the door for a few seconds, then build duration. You can continue doing food sessions like these even when your puppy is used to the kennel to make a positive association and establish the "go to bed" command.

It is expected for your puppy to be loud for the first few nights, regardless of how many games you play or how tired it might be. Teaching your dog to enjoy its crate takes time and consistency, so don't be discouraged if there are a few bumps along the road.

How Long Can A Puppy Be In The Crate?

You want to crate train the dog throughout the day to get him used to being in the kennel both when you are in the house and outside. Puppies can hold their bladder for an hour each month of age. Therefore, you should aim to crate your puppy for as many hours as months of age. Once your dog is potty trained, it can be crated for extended periods, but you should never leave him unattended for over 8 hours, at the most.

What Does My Puppy Do In Its Crate?

Depending on their age, activity level, and breed, young puppies must sleep between 17 and 20 hours per day. Most of the time they spend in the crate will be sleeping, and your dog will spend most of its wake hours in bathroom breaks and short play sessions. As your puppy ages, it will need less sleep and more mental and physical activity, but many people are surprised by the average number of hours dogs sleep. In general, it is safe to assume that your dog is sleeping or resting when he is in the crate.

How To Keep A Puppy Entertained In The Crate?

Creating a positive association with your puppy's kennel is essential to make it a comfortable, relaxing space to rest. Start by feeding all of your puppy's meals in the crate. Slow feeding bowls, Kong toys, and treat dispensers will keep your puppy entertained and mentally stimulated. Our favorite feeding toys are Starmark's Bob-a-Lot treat dispenser for kibble meals and Kong chew toys for raw, rehydrated, or frozen meals.

The majority of your puppy's crate time will be spent sleeping. While food and toys will create a positive association with the kennel, they do not replace the necessary mental and physical stimulation. Adequate training and exercise levels will make your puppy tired and thus make it more likely to fall asleep right away in its crate.

How To Deal With Accidents?

Accidents are a normal part of the potty training process. If you notice that your puppy had an accident, stay calm and take it to the bathroom immediately. Once your puppy has pottied, clean up the accident with a pet-friendly, ammonia-free cleaner. Adjust your water, feeding times, and potty break schedules to prevent further accidents.

Because crate training requires time and consistency (especially in the early stages), many pet owners leave this process to a professional dog trainer. In Denver, Chomps Dog Training's puppy boot camp covers all of the early stages of training, including crate training, to save you time and the potential stress that may come with kennel training. Contact us today if you have any questions about crate training your puppy.

Chomps Dog Training

We are Chomps Dog Training, a leading Denver-based dog training facility offering puppy, obedience, and aggressive dog training.