How to Crate Train Your New Puppy
Don't Fear the Crate
I used to think this was the cruelest sounding
thing I had ever heard of - Crate training - how terrible.
Actually it can become one of your dog's safest and most
treasured spaces in his world. It gives your dog a place that
knows is all his own. His Crate is a place that he can
when his normal environment has gotten too hectic.
Jasper, our Yorkshire Terrier, sleeps with me in
"The Big Bed".
My day starts about 5:45 in the morning. I get up
and take him outside to do his business and then back to the room we
go. I get in the shower and he usually sacks out on the bed
while I get myself ready for work. If he's real energetic, he
may play with a cat or two, but usually not.
After I've gotten dressed, we head out to the
kitchen where I take my vitamins and pack my lunch. He pretty
much knows the routine. He knows that at some point I'm going
to pick up my keys and pocket change. He's already sitting on
go - all I have to do is say, "Let's go see George" (a nickname it has
acquired because of George the stuffed monkey that used to sleep with
him), and swoosh - he makes a beeline to his crate, where he sits and
waits for me to give him a treat, tell him goodbye, and shut
his door. That's about 6:45 AM, and he will stay in there,
content as can be, until my wife wakes up a few hours later.
Sometimes, she just has to open his door and go about her
business, because he's not ready to come out yet. He
loves his crate.
How to Start Crate Training
The easiest time to start crate training is when
your puppy is
young. The younger the better, 7 weeks, 8 weeks - perfect.
When they're this young, you can begin killing several
with one stone: housebreaking,
crate training, and sleeping through the
night. All are pluses in my book.
your puppy is anything like ours, you will soon discover that they
sleep a lot, play a lot, pee a lot, and when they're awake, they hate
to be alone. A new puppy can wear you out, but
for one thing; they take frequent naps. This is where you
sure that the crate you get is a good quality crate. When
are little we have found that the best crate to use is actually one of
those small ones for a cat. Not
flexible ones made out of Nylon,
one of the plastic ones with the metal wire door. Wal-Mart
sells the ASPCA
Pet Taxi, Small.
This is the
perfect size for him as long as he is still a little puppy.
It has just enough room for him to get
and stretch his legs and move around.
sure it is
for him inside.
My wife lines it
with several layers on those
soft infant receiving blankets. You will probably want to put
animal in there for him to cuddle up with, too.
you are trying to make it a place that he wants to go to - to feel safe
and be happy in.
are like infants and young children.
They play hard and then they sleep. So, for the
you can let this God designed feature run it's course. Play
your puppy. Play, play, play. Sooner or later he's
get tired. When that time comes, take him outside to relieve
himself, then bring him back inside. Wrap your puppy up
in one of those
little soft infant blankets and put him in your lap. Once
fallen asleep, simply slip him into the crate, snuggle him up next to
his little stuffed animal and then securely close the crate's door.
You may want to cover the crate with another baby blanket
keep the light out.
Next, sit down and do something you haven't done in a while -
relax - he'll be down for 1 to 3 hours.
Remember he's just a
puppy, and just like children, they need their sleep whether they want
it or not. And, just like little children, they're not going
like it, but they need it. This isn't just a "because I said
kind of thing, this is actually a needed thing. They need
sleep to keep them healthy and growing the way they should.
need to pick certain times throughout the day to put your puppy down
for a nap. Usually this is not a problem while they are
young. Most of the time you can wrap him in his little
and rub his shoulders, or his chest, and before you know it he'll be
out like a light.
However, just like little children, the time will
come when he's just
not going to want to take a nap. In that case, all you can do
be sweet and understanding. Tuck him in real good, close the
door, cover the crate, then - and this is important, put your ear plugs
in, relax and wait him out. One thing though, he needs to
that you are responsive. Give him the first couple of yelps
whines for him to signify that he might need to go to the bathroom.
So, when he starts with all the noise, sweetly get him out
take him to his usual spot. Then back to the crate we go.
But What About Nighttime?
Nighttime can be a little bit of a challenge.
It will take some patience and stamina on your part.
There is nothing worse than putting your puppy down for the
night, settling in to bed yourself and then hearing that constant
barking, yelping, and whining. It's just something that you
can't seem to ignore. Many times, frustrated dog owners wind
up screaming at the dog, or hitting him, or worse. None of
that nurtures a healthy relationship.
The problem is that the little fellow misses you -
terribly. All he wants is to know is that you're there.
Sometimes you can get by with placing a stuffed
there with him. Others have tried putting ticking clocks in
there with the pup. I think I have found the best way to
handle this phase of the training. You may think I'm crazy,
but believe me, this has worked every time for me, and for those that I
have shared it with. Put the crate up in the bed with you,
open the door enough to stick your hand in there with him, make the
room real dark, and he'll go right to sleep. All you have to
do is stay awake longer than him. It won't take long.
Once he's asleep, just ease your hand out. But
remember to shut the door, so he doesn't wake up and wander
out after you've fallen asleep. That would not be safe for
him at all.
Some times it may it may take more than your hand.
The best thing to do then is to wrap him up in his blanket
and let him fall asleep on your chest. This works well quite
often - he feels your warmth, he hears your heartbeat, the room is dark
- before you know it, he's asleep. Then just put the
whole little sleeping bundle into the crate and shut the door.
Sometimes they will sleep all night long, praise
God, but most of the time they won't. When he whimpers once,
just be real still and quite. He may go right back to sleep.
If he persists, then he probably needs to go to the bathroom.
As I mentioned before, he needs to know you'll respond.
He's trying to tell you something. Maybe it's that
he's lonely, or maybe it's that he's got to go to the bathroom. When
they're young, they can't hold it long. You don't want to
miss your que. You just need to settle in to the
fact that this is your job right now. Get up and take him out
- praise him when he's through, then back to bed with the same process
that worked before - hand in the crate - wrapped up on your chest -
It's going to take effort and sacrifice on your
part, so if your not willing to go this far, then you might want to
reconsider owning a little house breed, and get you a bird dog you can
leave outside in a kennel instead. But, if you are willing,
all this work will pay off in big dividends with a dog that
loves and trusts you.
It's Inevitable - He will get Bigger
It's a part
of life. That puppy's going
to get bigger and will out grow that little cat sized crate.
The little crate has served it's purpose well. It
was the perfect size to put up in the bed with you, and it was good for
breaking portion of the training also (see
article for details), but now it is time to
move up to his permanent crate.
For the Yorkie sized dog we
use the ASPCA
Pet Taxi, Large.
It is just
the right size. It has plenty of room for him, a pillow, a
blanket, medium sized stuffed animal, and sometimes a cat (though we
would never leave them in there together alone). Whatever
your dog is, make sure that the crate is large enough for him.
needs to be able to stand up and move around. He needs to be
to stretch out comfortably. Give some room for a stuffed
and a pillow it you choose. Use common sense. You
want to spend 4 hours in a hall closet, or a phone booth would you?
Well, neither does he.
Make it Personal - Make it His Home
If you want the crate training to be a big
success, you need this to be a place that he likes. He may
not always want to go there at your beckoned whim, but he does need to
like it. The best thing to do is call it something.
the action of going to the crate a nickname. You can say
your Room", or something like that. Each time you take him
there give him a treat. Be careful that you don't give him
too much, just enough to make it a reward. After he's in
there, give him the treat and pat him on the head. Tell him
goodbye (or whatever), and then shut the door.
Don't ever leave him until you're sure he has
finished the treat and you haven't left him choking on it.
Never leave anything in there that he can chew on and get
choked - no rawhides - no toys with things he can chew off.
We have to be careful what stuffed animals we leave in there
with Jasper. We thought everything was fine and then one day
he decided that he had a thing for the plastic eyes on his stuffed
monkey, George. They're just like little children and you
have to stay one step ahead of them.
When you first start crating him, use short
intervals of time. Start with 30 minutes, then move up to an
hour. I would do this at routine times of the day.
Go about your normal business and then let him out.
When you let him out, hug him and love on him. Make
him think you're glad to see him. Always take him straight
from the crate to the bathroom. Remember though, if he's
young, his bladder is little, and he won't be able to hold it long.
So, don't over do the time. Jasper is now 2 years
old and he has done several 5 to 7 hour sessions. He has held
it every time. I don't know how - I could never do that!
You need to make sure that he's gone to the
bathroom (or been given the opportunity) before you put him up, and
maybe restrict the amount of water he's had before hand if he's going
to be in there for a while. Be consistent, and be
A 2 to 4 hour stay should be no problem for an 8 month old,
but you should never scold him for any mistakes he may make in there.
doesn't like it anymore than you do. Let him know it's
and that it was your fault for letting him get in that predicament.
But that's part of a housebreaking issue. Click
here for more information on that subject and our housebreaking method.
Avoid Negative Imagery
Remember, you are trying to make the
crate training a good thing in the dog's mind. For that
reason, you should never use the crate as a place for punishment.
If you scold the dog and then put him in his crate, it won't
be long before he starts to associate negative feeling and memories
about the crate. Then the crate becomes a source of fear and
unpleasantness - you will completely undo the work you set out to
accomplish in the first place.