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Crate training is one of the best things you can do for your dog and for you. If you are a good owner then you want to train your dog, and house training them in this way is very beneficial in a variety of ways. Some dog owners feel guilty over crate training because, in their mind, they are confining or trapping their dog in a small, confined space. However, experts say dogs instinctively seek out small spaces to create protective shelters for themselves and your dog’s crate will probably end up being the place where they feel the safest.
The benefits for dog owners are easy to see as well. The dog crate gives you a place to keep your pet when you are away, it gives your dog a place to sleep, it gives you a place to keep your dog during stressful situations, and in general, crates make life easier for dog owners. Crate training can, however, be a long and stressful process for the owner and a new puppy so many people do not do it despite the benefits.
The following sections will give you some ideas on how to crate train your puppy. The short-term difficulties that you may run into will be greatly outweighed by the lifetime benefits that both you and your dog will experience. Following these simple steps will make the crate training process easier, but remember, the main thing you can practice is patience and consistency with your pup.
The first step is both the simplest and most important step in the crate training process. Before going deeper into this step, it is important to state that it should absolutely happen when your dog is young and housebreaking. If you wait until later, things will be much more difficult and you will not reap all of the benefits that the crate has to offer.
The exposure phase of crate training is very low pressure for your puppy. All you need to do is just place the crate in the middle of the floor and let your dog explore. A good idea is to place your crate where the majority of the family members hang around often. You do not need to force them into the crate, you do not need to shut the crate door, or worry about the length of time of exposure. When your puppy approaches the crate, give him a treat. If they walk inside, give them a treat. No matter how small the interaction with the crate is, make it a positive experience as your puppy begins to get to know their crate.
Allow Your Dog To Spend Time In The Crate
The next step is to allow your dog to spend extended amounts of time in their crate. This phase begins when your dog is noticeably comfortable lying down in its open crate. Notice we use the word “allow” and not “force” when describing this step. This is still a relatively low-pressure step for you and your puppy, and patience is key.
Starting out in this step, give your puppy a treat simply for lying down in the crate for a few seconds. As they get more and more comfortable lying down in the crate, hold back the treats so that their behavior is not tied directly to receiving a treat. You can still praise them and pet them when they lie down, but make sure as your puppy grows more comfortable lying in their crate that it slowly becomes a natural part of their lives rather than something that requires praise. During this phase of crate training, it is vital that you do not close the door with your puppy inside.
Close The Door With Your Puppy Inside The Crate
As your puppy gets more comfortable with being inside their crate and lying down comfortably, it is time to move onto the next step. In fact, when you notice that your dog is comfortable with lying down with the door open and will do it for a few minutes at a time, then you know it is time to begin shutting the door with your puppy inside. When you close the door, do not lock it yet. Leaving the door unlocked will show your dog that they still have the freedom to leave if they want and they will not feel trapped.
Treats are the key to this step as well. Begin by shutting the door of the crate for one minute. If your puppy does not whine or cry during that minute, give them a treat and then move up the time that you leave the door closed. Do not give treats just because they are in the crate, make sure you only reward them when they do not whine or cry when the door is closed. When your dog lies down in its crate with the door shut for a few minutes without whining or crying, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Lock The Door With Your Dog Inside The Crate
This step is important because it helps your puppy not to panic when they hear the door of the crate lock. During this step, you lock the crate while you and others are still in the room so that your puppy is not alone. Your dog will know that the crate is locked and that they cannot get out, but staying in the room with them will help them get used to being locked in the crate without the anxiety they would feel if you were not with them. Continue to give treats for good behavior, and when they can stay in their locked crate without whining for a while, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Leave The Room
This is a difficult step in the process for many dog owners because your dog will probably whine and get upset when you leave the room. Your first thought will probably be that your puppy is suffering from separation anxiety, but that is probably not the case. In fact, your dog is probably testing you especially because real separation anxiety would not usually start the moment you step foot outside of the room.
To begin this step, lock the crate door with your puppy inside and take a step outside of the room. Return immediately and give your dog a treat. Repeat this a couple of times and then begin to lengthen the time that you step outside of the room. In the end, you want to be able to leave your puppy in the crate for extended periods of time including overnight and even when you leave to go to work. It will not be long before your puppy stops crying and whining when in the crate because it becomes one of their favorite places. Calm stress and anxiety in your pup should signs appear that this is really the case.
Begin Overnight Training
The goal of reading an article called “How To Crate Train A Puppy” is for your puppy to enjoy their crate. To want to sleep there, to feel safe there, and ultimately to make their crate one of the safest places in your puppy’s life. Overnight crate training is vital to this process.
It may seem like overnight training is just the next step in the process, but the truth is that overnight training is almost a completely new challenge both for you and your puppy. You want your dog to be able to stay in the crate all night with only a single bathroom break throughout the night. At the beginning of this training, your puppy could whine and cry throughout the night making this one of the most difficult steps both for you and your puppy. If you are patient, however, any dog can learn to sleep in its crate and will love it in the long run.
The way that you accomplish this step is obvious, you simply put your puppy in the crate at night before you go to sleep and shut the door. You may take them out one time for a bathroom break, but in general, you just leave them in the crate until morning. We do, however, have a few tips to make this process easier:
- Leave the crate in your bedroom to start with and slowly move them farther and farther from your bed until they are in a different room.
- Never react to their crying or whining, and especially never yell at them for it.
- Have your dog exercise before bed to get them ready to sleep.
- Do not give them too much water prior to bed.
There are some things that you should definitely not do when training your puppy or in the future after your puppy is crate trained. The Humane Society website cautions: “A crate maybe your dog’s den, but just as you would not spend your entire life in one room of your home, your dog should not spend most of their time in their crate.”  Here are some other things to watch out for in crate training:
- Never use the crate as a punishment.
- Do not leave your puppy in their crate for unreasonable periods of time. Too much crating can lead to depression or anxiety.
- When your puppy is less than six months old, four hours is the longest any puppy should be in a crate.
- Your dog will probably not need to be crated every time you leave the house for their entire life. When they are mature enough, keep the crate available, but give them access to the entire house.
- Never take the comfortable bed out of their crate.
How long can you leave an 8-week old puppy in a crate?
Any puppy that is younger than six months old does not have the bladder control to be left inside for more than three or four hours and this includes at night. When leaving your dog in a crate while you are at work, make sure there is someone that can let them out for a bathroom break after a few hours.
How do I get my puppy to stop whining in his crate?
A lot of this is just patience. You want to make sure the crate is comfortable, that you do not rush into a step that your puppy is not ready for, and that you allow for the possibility that your puppy is trying to control the situation. In general, however, patience is key. You have to be able to hear your puppy whine and cry for a while without overreacting and know that eventually the whining and crying will stop.
How long does it take to crate train a puppy?
The answer to this question depends on how quickly your dog adapts to the crate and how patient and understanding you are with them. Some young puppies may take as little as a week to both get used to their crate and love it. Others may take a couple of months, or more, depending on how long it takes them to get used to this change. Patience, again, is key. If you rush your puppy through the process, you may end up starting over from the beginning.
How do you stop a puppy from crying in the crate at night?
The best way to get your dog to not cry at night is to make sure they are so tired that they want to sleep. Give them extra exercise, less water, and an environment that sets up well for good and deep sleep. In the beginning, crying is probably going to happen, but it will not be long before your dog can make it through the night.