Crate training puppies: What every owner should know
Rest assured – although crate training may seem cruel, it isn’t at all! In fact, if done right, it is extremely beneficial for you and your dog. Many vets will recommend crate training, but what is it all about?
What is crate training?
Crate training is teaching your pup to spend time in a small kennel or crate, and to be comfortable while in there. It’s important to remember that dogs are naturally “den” animals; most dogs will actually enjoy having a crate as a substitute for this den!
Why crate train?
For a number of reasons! We’ve listed just a few good ones here:
- It’s a safe place for them to go when nervous or scared
- Most dogs will enjoy eating their meal in a crate
- In case (fingers crossed) they have an injury and need to be rested in a very small space
- If they ever spend time at a vet (again, finger’s crossed!) they will most likely be in a relatively small cage. If crate trained, the experience will be much less stressful
- It will help you relax! If you ever need a break from your pet getting into your socks, or the garbage bin, it’s important they are comfortable resting in their crate
Five key tips for crate training:
Ensure the crate is the right size.
Your dog should be able to sit, stand, eat and lie down in the crate. If it is too big with lots of spare room, they may be tempted to toilet in the crate, which is far from ideal!
Get them used to it slowly.
Initially just place your dog in the crate for 15 minutes with the door open and sit with them, so they aren’t stressed. Increase this to 30 minutes, then 45 minutes. Once they seem settled in the crate, try leaving them alone in there with a distraction, such as a Kong toy.
Always use rewards! If your dog does the right thing in his or her crate, it is important to give them a treat and a cuddle. This way they will recognise that they’ve done the right thing, and they’re much more likely to do it again! We suggest treats like greenies that are good for their oral health and can keep them busy or these.
Don’t use a crate as punishment. As smart as dogs are, they won’t realise that they have done something wrong if they are placed in a crate as punishment. They may just become more nervous, and then naughtier.
Know how much is too much. Even the best-behaved dogs won’t want to spend too long in their crate. After all, they are social and loving animals! As a general rule, if you’ve adopted a puppy at 8 weeks (2 months), they should spend no more than 3 hours a day in a crate. This can be increased as they get older, provided they’re getting plenty of socialisation and exposure to new people/places.
Where do I get a crate?
Crates aren’t something you can readily buy at a vet when getting a health check or vaccination. We’ve got some of our favourites here! See our article on dog crates.
Author’s note: Rescue Pets writers select and write about topics we think you’ll like and need to make your choices simpler and easier. Rescue Pets uses affiliate links in our posts, so we can get a small revenue from your purchases.