Mike and Gina got a new puppy they’ve named Jasmine. They were starting to learn crate training. At first, Gina didn’t like the idea, as it seemed like they were somehow punishing Jasmine by confining her to such a small space. Why crate train a puppy? A little research helped Gina understand how to crate train a puppy and what a crate would represent to Jasmine.
It’s not a jail cell where your dog is sent for punishment when they’ve violated a rule. It’s more like giving your child their room. More accurately, it’s giving your dog a den, which taps into their ancestors’ need for a space of safety and comfort.
If you’re crate training a puppy well, and you’re forming associations between the crate and good things, your puppy will make those connections and enjoy crate time throughout their life.
The Advantages of Crate Training Your Puppy
Gina and Mike discovered several advantages to crate training their puppy. For your puppy, you create a space associated with comfort, safety, security, and warmth. It’s an excellent place for them to sleep, eat, and maybe get away from the hustle and bustle in the house. It can even provide additional comfort when traveling to unfamiliar places.
Here are a few other advantages:
- It keeps the puppy from getting into forbidden things when you can’t watch them closely.
- It’s a great tool for potty training. Dogs don’t like to soil their dens.
- It’s a quiet, calm place to recover from illness or injury.
- It keeps them safe in the car.
Choosing a Crate for Your Puppy
What Crate Size Do You Need?
Mike and Gina followed a few tips to find a crate for Jasmine.
Crates come in sizes to fit any dog. Choose one that will allow your dog, as an adult, to stand and turn around easily. There should be enough floor space for them to lie down comfortably. It shouldn’t be much bigger than that. If you’re starting with a puppy, you should get a crate that will be big enough for the adult version. Furthermore, the crate should contain a divider you can use to create a temporarily smaller space for the puppy. Gradually move the divider as the puppy grows.
A Little Versatility
- Some crates have openings both on the longer side and the shorter end. This will give you options for fitting the crate in the space you want.
- A collapsible crate makes it easier to move the crate from house to car.
- You might prefer to get a second crate to keep in the car or another room.
A crate will come with a pan and a pad to place inside it. You can add a blanket or a small comforter. The crate should be a place where your dog wants to be. Make it comfy! You might also consider a sheet or light blanket to drape over the top of the crate for a calming, more den-like atmosphere.
Creating the Atmosphere
Gina and Mike were off to a great start with the right size crate and plenty of cushioning. So what else did they need? Toys! It’s good to have something to entertain the puppy and elevate their comfort level: a few favorite toys, interactive toys filled with treats, a stuffed animal they like to nap with.
Some people feed their dogs in their crates. To train them, first, feed them just outside of the crate. Then, gradually move the food bowl further inside the crate over time. This process can be helpful, for example, if there are small children in the house who try to play with the dog while they’re eating. While you’re trying to teach your children to leave the dog alone during mealtime, the dog will be able to eat in peace.
Not for Punishment!
Never banish your puppy to the crate as punishment! Instead, the crate should only be associated with positive things.
Location, Location, Location
Gina and Mike knew how vital the location was when they bought their house. Now they’ve learned that location is equally vital to Jasmine when placing her crate. They didn’t want her isolated, so they put it in their family room, an area they used most. It would always be available to her when she wanted a nap or a little relaxation after playtime.
Mike and Gina decided to put a second crate in their bedroom so Jasmine could be near them overnight. They trained her to go to her crate when they went to bed. Instead of leaving her alone downstairs in the family room, they felt it would be best for her well-being to know they were in the room with her. She would be comfortable and secure enough to get the sleep she needed.
An adult dog can stay in a crate for, at most, four to six hours during the day. A puppy does not have that kind of endurance. They will need to be let out to eliminate more often. If you’re away from home for long stretches, you’ll need to make arrangements for someone to help. It may be better to take the puppy to Doggy Day Care (DDC) if you would otherwise have to leave them in the crate for a long time.
Crate Training a Puppy
Now that they had the crates in the right places and created a cozy atmosphere inside, Gina and Mike could train Jasmine to use and enjoy her crate.
Mike first lured the puppy into the crate with treats, closed the door, and gave plenty of praise. Then he let her out with more praise. He repeated the process several times, with longer stretches of time inside the crate.
Gina taught Jasmine the “Crate” command. She placed food inside the crate, and as Jasmine entered, Gina said, “Crate!” After several repetitions, Jasmine entered the crate on command.
Because they had made the crate a wonderful place, the puppy had no problem learning to use it. It was her little place.
A Parting Reminder
Mike and Gina learned that crate training a puppy was pretty straightforward. The key was creating a little environment where Jasmine wanted to be. Teaching her the simple “Crate” command made it easy to guide Jasmine in when they wanted her there.
A crate can be a lovely place for your dog. You just have to make it so.