4 Steps to Crate Training

A brown puppy looking at the camera

Crate training is not a way of putting your dog or puppy in a “cage” or “jail”. Dogs feel secure in small, enclosed spaces, which are like the dens that wild animals use. Dog crates make excellent dens.

Follow these steps to crate train your dog:

  1. Choose a crate appropriate for the size of your dog. He should have enough room to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably, but you don’t want a crate that is too big. His crate should be for sleeping or for a safe place to be when you aren’t with him or do not have time to supervise him if he is still a puppy. If you have a large breed puppy, you may have to buy two differently sized crates or purchase a crate with a divider that you can move as he grows.
  2. Use a single-word command to tell your dog to enter his crate, and throw in a treat or piece of kibble. When he enters, praise him and close the crate door. Gradually increase the time he spends in the crate before you let him out. Remember, your dog still needs time to play and go to the bathroom. Maintain a regular schedule of trips outdoors so as not to confine him too long.
  3. As a general guide, your puppy can stay in his crate comfortably for several hours, depending on his age. Take his age in months, add 1, and that’s how many hours he should be able to stay in his crate (up to about 8 hours). For example, a 2-month-old puppy should be comfortable in his crate for about 3 hours.
  4. Providing your dog or puppy with a crate that is too large may allow him to relieve himself in one end and sleep in the other. Make sure you take your dog or puppy outdoors to go the bathroom on a regular schedule and especially prior to being left for prolonged periods of time. Always take your dog outside on a leash, to the same area in your backyard each time, to eliminate. Do this so that you can praise him when his job is finished. This will take the guesswork out of his visits to the backyard.
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