Puppies make great pets, but puppies that are well-behaved and have been trained make even greater pets. It’s never too early to start training your puppy.
Our best dog crate for all breeds is the ever-dependable AmazonBasics crate. Available in sizes 22 inches (for small dogs and puppies such as Chihuahua), 24 inches (for puppies and small dogs such as Pugs), 30 inches (for small/medium dogs such as French Bulldog and Jack Russells), 36 inches (for medium dogs such as a Dachshund), 42 inches (for medium / larger dogs such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers) and finally 48 inches (for large breeds such as Great Danes).
It’s a fairly basic cage, with two doors – but it is fantastic value at a very affordable price. The crate is strong and can be packed away when not required.
When considering the size you need to consider how long you plan on using the cage as well as how much room you have available in your home. Though a smaller crate may be great for your puppy – they will grow. If you plan to use the crate for your dog once they’ve grown you may need to a) buy a second crate further down the line or b) buy a crate that’s much larger that your dog will grow into.
There are plenty of other options available, some with a range of additional features. But if you’re looking for something easy to assemble, robust and strong to get you started – the AmazonBasics is worth checking out.
Just like children, puppies learn a lot of their behaviours when young, so get in there early when it comes to puppy training. And if you have an adult (we’ve fostered some untrained adult dogs), it’s never too late to learn.
Training can include many different things, from going potty and general behaviour to not chewing your slippers. However, one of the most important areas of puppy training is crate training. So, what is crate training and how can you do it well?
What Is Crate Training?
A dog crate is just like a little dog home where your puppy will find his bedding, often their food and also the place where they do their business.
It’s something like a home inside your home just for your dog. It can also be used to keep your puppy in a designated space while you do chores, have guests over or to keep them from clawing at your bedroom door overnight (for the no-dogs-on-the-bed group).
Crate training is simply getting your puppy to understand why they have a crate and getting them to use it comfortably. You don’t just want the crate to be effective and functional, you also want your new four-legged buddy to feel safe when using the crate.
The BIG Consideration!
Before training your puppy to use their crate, there is one key consideration. You need to choose a crate that is the right size for your puppy. You may have a little fluff ball on your hands at the moment, but how big will your pup grow?
Your crate should be big enough so the puppy can move freely and comfortably but accommodate their height as they grow. If you have ever seen dogs jumping vertically in the middle of a walk (videos of rescued dogs are out there), these dogs have been kept in crates that are way too small and the dog jumping is often a sign of their joy at not being squashed anymore.
Why Is Crate Training Important?
Any type of behavioural training can be beneficial to your puppy because it has a knock-on effect on their training in other areas. Getting your doggie to use a crate and feel safe doing so has many specific benefits. These include:
- Puppies have a designated place to use the toilet and save your flooring
- Puppies feel safer when asleep
- Puppies learn where they receive their food
- It designates a safe space for puppies when they cannot roam the house
- It prepares them for times they need to go inside smaller crates that are taken to the vet
- Crates can be transferred into the car for safer driving
- You get a better night’s sleep!
Just one of these benefits is a fantastic reason to train your puppy how to use a crate, but with so many of them, it really is worthwhile to use a dog crate and train your pup how to use one.
Let Puppy Meet Crate…
The ultimate goal of crate training is for you to be able to command your puppy to go to his crate. ‘Go to bed’ or ‘go to doggy home’ may be nicer sounding commands to settle on. However, to get to this stage, your pup must also love his crate. This places a lot of emphasis on introducing it to him or her the right way.
When you first let your puppy meet their crate, it is essential that you do not force the puppy inside of it. Some dogs may just run in and love it instantly while others may be scared or anxious about the crate. Forcing them in may make them always reluctant to use it. Instead, use these three steps for success:
Step One: Treats and Praise
Try and entice your puppy with some tasty puppy treats inside the crate. When you do this give them lots of praise. If the pup doesn’t want to come inside. Place him/her inside the crate and give them treats and lots of pats and attention. Soon after, remove them from the crate and show them more love.
Note: do not give them a treat when taken outside the crate – only inside the crate!
Step Two: Closing the Door
Once your doggie is comfortable inside the crate for brief spells, it’s time to close the door for around one minute while they are inside. If they are uncomfortable do not leave them inside. Repeat until they get comfortable.
Step Three: Increasing the Time
If your pup is starting to make himself at home during those minutes when the door is closed, you now need to increase the time the door is closed. Remember though the whole process that praise is needed in abundance.
Sleeping in the Crate
Many dog owners get a crate for the specific reason of giving their new family member a place of their own to sleep – and so they can get enough of their own. Creating a den that a pup will sleep in means making it cosy with the likes of a dog basket. You may also want to put in an unwashed old t-shirt of yours, so your puppy can smell your scent and feel safe.
Training puppies to sleep in crates is a little different from the process above because puppies do not have a specific place they sleep, like we humans do. Puppies will sleep anywhere they wish so trying to teach them that they have a specific den for this activity is tricky, but not impossible!
The best advice is to wear out your puppy with extended playtime and then invite them into the crate with a treat after. Hopefully, your puppy will like to rest or even fall asleep. Leave the door open the first few times and then progress to closing the door. After the door has been closed, keep supervising the puppy so you can be there when they wake up and to let them straight out. After some time, they will be ready to sleep in their new den overnight!
A crate can be loved by everyone, but it does require some training to make it work. Remember to start early and use the advice above to support your bundle of joy through the process.
You can read some of our breed-specific dog crate articles in our At Home section. Don’t forget to comment below and check out our Facebook page.