If you've just brought home a new puppy, beginning crate training is probably high on your list of priorities. Or perhaps you're even asking yourself, what is crate training, and is it worth all the effort?
Crate training is the process of helping your puppy learn to spend time in a crate and adopt it as their personal space in a home. Proper training helps your dog seek comfort in their crate and even helps with potty training because dogs are less likely to potty in a spot they’ve determined to be their “bed”. Training can also keep your dog safe and out of trouble around the house as well as be a comfortable retreat when your dog wants to relax.
Now that you know what crate training is, what are the benefits? And between all the crate options on the market, such as wire dog crates, aluminum dog crates, and plastic dog crates, how can you know which one is right for your dog? We'll discuss all of it in this blog post.
Why the Stress of Puppy Crate Training is Worth It
There's much more to training than just putting the puppy in the crate and closing the door. There will be a lot of effort on both sides to reach a successful outcome. Frustrating and stressful moments are expected. So is it worth it to crate train your puppy? Of course! Here are a few reasons why:
Makes potty training easy
If done correctly, your puppy will see the crate as a safe haven and a place to relax. Dogs generally will not potty in a place where they hang out and sleep. Using a crate will help your dog learn that there are good and bad places to go.
Having a crate allows you to have your dog in the house but provides it with a safe refuge to go to when it can't be roaming around your home. As opposed to putting a dog outside in some conditions where it might not be best for your dog, you can keep it in the house, but keep it under control.
Helps with separation anxiety
Dogs who experience separation anxiety may struggle with being confined in a crate. You may have to put a little more effort into ensuring that your dog will love the crate. But once things are running smoothly, eventually, the crate can help calm a high anxiety dog.
Gets your puppy used to a crate in case of traveling
There are many situations where your dog will most likely have to be in a crate. Traveling, visiting the vet’s office, and even hunting are just a few. Training allows your puppy to be prepared for those situations in an enclosed space where they feel comfortable.
5 Tips for Crate Training Your Puppy
Now that we know all the benefits of crate training, let's get to the best part — starting the process! When training your dog, it's important to be patient. While it may sometimes feel like you're not making progress, you will succeed if you stay consistent. Here are our tips for crate training a puppy.
Step 1: Introduce your puppy to the crate
Start small by introducing your puppy to the crate. Keep the door open, place some treats inside, and let your puppy explore it on their own free will. Use a lot of encouragement and praise when your dog is exploring the crate. Giving the puppy a toy is helpful, too. Keep the door open so the puppy can go in and out as it pleases. Repeat the process as much as possible until it seems like the dog is comfortable in the crate, and don't force it if your puppy is hesitant.
Step 2: Make the crate a comfortable place to be
Once your dog is comfortable with going in and out of the crate, it's time to make it a comfortable spot. Feed your dog meals in the crate, place toys in the crate, and put in a blanket or two. The goal is to make the crate a comfortable, positive place. If you sense that your dog is getting cozy, you can practice closing the door while it eats. Keep the door open if your dog starts to whine or feels uncomfortable. Don't use the crate as a punishment.
Step 3: Start small with short confinements
Start by leaving the room during a closed-door session. Listen for whining or barking, which means your dog is ready to come out. Try to increase the time you leave the puppy in the crate, taking note of their behavior. If the puppy is getting uncomfortable, it may be time to reassess or take a step back.
Step 4: Work up to more extended stays
If everything is going well, you can work up to longer stays in the crate. Be positive while placing the puppy in the crate, and try leaving it for longer periods while you're home. For example, you can do some housework, read, or do some laundry while the dog is relaxing in the crate. Check in on the puppy and give them treats. You'll want to provide it with the feeling that it's not a big deal if you leave. Make sure to give lots of praises during this process!
Step 5: Leave the house and crate at night
If you can tell your puppy is relaxed and happily loving its crate, it's time to practice leaving the house. First, give yourself the best chance of success by giving your dog some exercise time outside. Give them some water, a safe chew toy, and a treat. Keep departures and arrivals low-key and quick. If you make it a big deal to leave, it'll be a big deal for your puppy. While leaving your dog in the crate is safe, don't leave them alone for more than 4-5 hours at a time.
You can also try crating them up for the night. Use the same gentle command when you want them to enter their crate and reward them with a treat. You can take this one step further and use a different commend word to let them know it’s okay to come out after you’ve opened the door. If your puppy is young, you may want to place the crate in your bedroom or a nearby hallway. Even older dogs may benefit from being close during this initial crating process overnight. Once the dog sleeps comfortably through the night, you can move the crate to a place in the house you prefer.
Get the Right Metal Dog Crate for the Job
There are plenty of dog crates on the market, but only one type is safe and built to last: the aluminum dog crates at Rock Creek Crates. Our metal dog crates have an internal welded frame, resulting in the sturdiest dog crate on the market—giving you peace of mind that your dog will not get out and get into trouble when you are away. Because you will use your puppy's crate every day, you'll want to get a heavy-duty dog crate that will stand the test of time. And it doesn't get more long-lasting than our lightweight aluminum dog crates. Need a high-anxiety dog crate? Our durable kennels are perfect for that. Traveling with your dog? No worries, our crash-tested dog crates have passed the high standards set by the Center for Pet Safety.
When selecting a size for crate training, the size of the kennel matters. We've got three sizes to choose from, and our convenient sizing guide helps you choose the right size for your dog. And unlike many other dog crates on the market, you can personalize the crate by selecting from a wide variety of colors. Add comfort and customizations to the aluminum dog crates with our various accessories. Your dog will love its Rock Creek Crate, and you'll fall in love with it, too!