Why Crate Training is a Good Idea
When talking to clients about how best to help them with their new puppy, I like to talk about why crate training is a good idea.
Some, okay more than some, are instantly put off by the thought of locking their puppy in a cage.
Sadly there are a lot of misconceptions about crate training, which I will dispel in future articles. For now, let’s talk about all the reasons why crate training is a good idea for you, and your new puppy.
Letting your puppy have free reign of your house as soon as you bring him home, can be too overwhelming for such a small creature. A crate will limit access in the beginning.
Dogs are den animals, and are quite happy when in a small space. It brings them comfort and makes them feel safe.
They instinctively avoid soiling their den, that’s why a crate is a great housetraining tool, teaching them bowel and bladder control.
When taught properly, a crate can be a favourite place where you dog goes to rest – a place of his own.
For dogs with a fear of thunder, a crate can be sanctuary.
Keeping your dog in a crate while in a car keeps everyone safe. A dog running loose, is an accident waiting to happen.
At some point, your dog may need a quiet place to recuperate after surgery or an injury. Getting him used to one early on, will make that so much easier.
FAQs – Crate Training Your Puppy
At what age can I start crate training my puppy?
You can start crate training as soon as you bring your new puppy home. That’s assuming you have everything set up and ready. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to get that sorted as soon as possible.
What is crate training?
Crate training is teaching your dog to be comfortable in a crate.I don’t like the idea of crate training.
Is there anything else I can do?
In terms of housetraining your dog, you can gate off an area, and confine him there, but it won’t substitute the other advantages of the crate.
What types of crates are there?
Crates come in a variety of sizes, shapes, styles and materials. Materials available are: metal, plastic, soft sided and decorative. Check out this link for more details.
How do I teach my dog to go into the crate on command?
Decide on which cue you’re going to use – make it one word – crate (for example). Every time your puppy goes into the crate to get his treat, use your cue. He will soon start to make the connection, and you won’t have to always use food to get him in.
What size crate should I get?
It should be big enough for your dog to stand up without his head reaching the top, turn around, and lie down without his legs touching the sides. If you’re planning on using the crate for years to come, why not consider a metal crate, suitable for the size your dog will be when he’s fully grown, but with dividers to accommodate him at various stages.
Will crate training stop my dog from destroying the house?
Yes and no. When your puppy is in the crate with some favourite toys, obviously there’s not much damage he can do. When he’s out of the crate, you still have to supervise, train him, make sure he gets enough physical exercise and mental stimulation… A crate is not a substitute for any of that.
What kind of crate should I buy?
It’s not a decision that can be made for you, but if you click here, this article should provide you some guidance on choosing the right crate.
Where should I put the crate?
The crate should be in a room where the family tends to hang out – usually the living room, a family room, or even a corner of the kitchen. Ideally your puppy should sleep in your bedroom for awhile, so you’ll either be moving the crate back and forth, and get a second one.
Where can I buy a crate?
There are so many places to buy crates, they include: pet supply stores, big box stores that sell pet supplies, online retailers, classified ads… Type the word dog crate into your search engine and voila!
How much do crates cost?
There are so many factors to consider, it’s really an impossible question to answer. You can get one for less than £20.00/$20.00, or you can pay several hundred £/$.
How does crate training help housetraining?
Dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep, so using the right size crate means he will “hold it” until he’s able to go outside. That’s only true if you don’t keep your dog in a crate for longer then he’s able to wait. Too long, and he’ll be forced to pee and/or poop in his crate, setting back your training.
How do I start?
Once your crate is all set up, leave the door open, sit on the floor next to it and put a really high value treat near the opening. Something he doesn’t usually get – turkey maybe? Once he eats that piece, put one just inside the crate, then a little further back, until you reach the back of it. If at any point your dog is hesitant, move it back to the point where he was still comfortable. Don’t do this all in one go. Keep your sessions short, and take your time. Crate training should not be rushed.
Here are the steps to follow.
How long does crate training take?
I know this may not be the answer you’re hoping for, but I’m going to say it takes as long as it takes. Some dogs love the crate, while others are wary and take more time. The important thing is – never rush the training, or it could undo the progress you’ve made.
Is it too late to crate train an adult dog?
Although crate training is, typically, associated with puppies, dogs of any age can be trained to use a crate.
How do I introduce my dog to the crate?
Set up the crate where you’re planning on leaving it, leave the door open, and just let your puppy examine it. You can give him treats near the crate, play with him, or give him a favourite toy there. You want to start off with positive associations. If that went well, take a small piece of a delicious treat, and put it just inside the crate, by the door. If he takes it no problem, put the next piece a little further in and so on…. Your goal is to have your puppy be comfortable enough to walk all the way in to get the treat. If at any point he’s unsure, you may have rushed it. Move the treat back to the point he was comfortable, and proceed, this time slower.
How long do I need to use the crate for?
You can use it just until your puppy is housetrained, or throughout his life.
Is crate training safe?
The process of crate training is safe, as long as it’s done properly. However, there are things to be aware of. Make sure you get a good quality crate, and bedding that’s as chew proof as possible. Remove his collar to avoid strangulation risks, and for the same reason, never leave a leash on your puppy, when he’s in a crate.
Why doesn’t my puppy seem to like the crate?
If you’ve gone through the step by step training, and followed the advice, and your puppy still doesn’t like his crate, here are some other possible explanations.
- If you have a metal crate, perhaps he finds it uncomfortable lying against the bars. Bumpers will add some padding.
- He may feel very exposed – putting a cover or blanket over the crate might help.
- He may be confined for too many hours at a time, or for too much of the day.
- If the crate is in a quiet area where no one goes, he may be stressed or anxious, being so far away from the family.
Will crate training make it easier to travel with my dog?
Yes. It’s a bad idea to leave your dog loose in a car – it’s an accident waiting to happen. Providing him with a nice comfy crate is the safest option. It will also get your dog used to being in a crate, should you be taking him on a plane.
Why should I crate train my puppy?
It’s a great tool for housetraining, car travel, a quiet place for recovery from illness or injury, a comfortable spot of his own, a bolt hole away from noise (rowdy children, too many visitors…), portable safe space anywhere you take your dog (hotel, visiting family or friends…)