Crate training as a puppy is almost always easier than training an adult dog, so, if given the opportunity, the time to start is immediately when you get home. Also, keep in mind that all dogs are different and might take a longer or shorter time to train.
My preferred crate is a wire crate. This will allow you to have your puppy have open access to see out, and is easily covered with a light blanket when it’s nap time. It has been my experience that a hard plastic crate (ones I use for transport) are sometimes a little to closed in. Soft crates, (made of mesh/material) can turn into chew toys which can be very expensive. A lot of articles and trainers recommend that your puppy’s crate be put in an area that is quiet, without a lot of foot traffic. I think that has to be up to the owner’s discretion. If your household is quite busy with foot traffic that prohibits the puppy from resting, this might be the right choice for your puppy. However, I tend to opt for the “keep ’em mix” approach. I keep my animals in an area where they are subject to hearing a lot of noises. The T.V., coffee grinder, garbage disposal, vacuum cleaner, are all things that your puppy needs to get used to hearing and the crate (safe place) is just the way to start. Plus, I don’t want to have to tiptoe around the crate if my puppy is sleeping so as not to wake him/her up. Tip: This will also help desensitize your dog from another stimulus they will need to tackle in the big world.
Now on to the training… The first thing I will say is that patience is your friend! The other crucial recommendation is to NEVER leave a collar on your puppy while crating. I start by making sure that the puppy is good and tired before getting started. I put a large plush blanket with an old t-shirt in the crate. I then will lure the puppy in with a treat and give the command “crate”. (Note: puppies have very sensitive digestive systems so be careful not to over feed the puppy.
This can cause diarrhea and could defeat the purpose of using the crate to potty train. A lot of puppies will take their usual kibble as a treat. ) Once the puppy has gone into the crate I say “good boy/girl”! and release them back out of the crate for praise. I repeat this a 4-5 times. The next step is to ask the puppy to go into the crate, giving the puppy the treat and closing the door. I sit and wait for a minute or so, and then release the puppy again with praise. Each time this exercise is done, you will extend the time that the crate door is closed. The last step requires a KONG type toy.
I will put a tiny bit of soft cheese or peanut butter at the very back of the KONG (more so that they can smell it) and put a couple of pieces of kibble in front. I will then partially cover the crate and stay within ear shot. From there, you will keep extending the time.
For very young puppies, keep in mind that they have very tiny bladders and need to be taken out to relieve themselves quite frequently. Another tip… I try to bring puppies home when I am going to have a large block of time to dedicate to this training. It is super important to take your time with teaching your puppy that the crate is a good place to be. Last, I also feed my new puppies in their crate. This creates a “positive association” that the crate is a good place to be, and will be invaluable with potty training.
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