Although not as popular as it used to be, crate training is still a very popular way to train dogs in the United States. It essentially takes advantage of your dogs instinct to den and uses it as a tool to help house train and potty train your dog.
As useful as crate training can be, most dogs will not immediately take to it. If you are having trouble getting started with crate training, here are a few tips that can help you on your journey.
Place The Crate In The Right Place
You might eventually want your puppy to sleep in a dining or living room, but you should not start there. Start crate training in the bedroom with you.
What you have to keep in mind is that your puppy is a baby. Even that big Great Dane puppy is just getting started growing up and needs comfort. Placing their crate in your bedroom will give them an added sense of security and will help them think of the crate as a safe place.
Another benefit to having a crate in your bedroom is that it keeps you within earshot. That will make it much easier to recognize when your puppy needs to go potty. As you likely know, those puppy bladders can’t wait long and time will definitely be of the essence.
Break Your Pup In Slowly
Everything is new and potentially scary to your new puppy. They have just been separated from their mother and no longer have the company of their litter mates. The last thing that you want to do is throw your puppy into a crate immediately, you need to break them in slowly.
Place them in the crate and let them investigate. When they show signs of stress or discomfort, pull them from the crate and comfort them. The idea is that you want the crate to be a safe place, you do not want them to think of the crate negatively as if it were a punishment.
Also, be sure to keep in mind that puppies should not be left in a cage longer than 4 hours. They do not have the bladder control to be able to go longer without having an accident.
Associate The Crate With Something Good
While you are introducing the crate, it is very important to keep reinforcing the fact that this is something good. When they enter the crate, give them a treat and then close the door. Repeat this for the first few weeks of training and they will want to get in the crate.
Another way to start associating the crate with something good is to start feeding them their meals in or near the crate. If they are reluctant to enter the crate, place the bowl near the entrance and then gradually move it closer and closer until it is inside the cage.
Keep The Crate Accessible
The crate does not have to just be for bed time or when you leave the house. If you do everything right, it will be a place for your pet. Whenever they are tired or stressed, they will seek it out for comfort. Always keep the door to their crate open with a soft blanket or pet bed inside.
Choose The Right Crate
Finally, be careful to choose the right sized crate. These come in a variety of sizes, so one size does not fit all. A bulldog might feel at home in a large cage, for example, but would have too much room in an XXL cage meant for a large breed dog.
The idea is that their cage should be cozy and should not have enough room that they feel that they can go potty on one side.