Have you added a new furry friend to your household?
Whether you have a puppy, adult dog, or senior dog, one popular and proven training method is crate training.
Crate training essentially teaches your dog to accept being placed inside a crate for a certain period.
Crates offer several benefits to dogs, such as giving them a sense of security, providing an easy and safe transport mode, teaching potty training, and keeping them safe when left alone.
Additionally, crates can also help to protect your belongings from curious, chewing pups.
However, crate training your dog isn’t always so simple and can leave your dog stressed out if not done correctly.
1. Choose the right size dog crate
When choosing a dog crate, you want to make sure that it properly fits the size of your dog. If the crate is too small, your dog may feel uncomfortable and cramped. If it’s too big, your dog may not get the same security sense due to space. Plus, puppies may decide to go to the bathroom on the other end of the crate.
A crate should provide enough room for your dog to walk inside and complete a 360-degree turn comfortably. Your pup should also be able to lay down in the crate without feeling cramped.
To determine the best size crate, you should base it on your dog’s specific measurements. If, for some reason, you are unable to measure your pup, at least research the average size for your dog’s breed.
First, measure your dog’s length from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail and add about two to four inches for the crate’s length.
Next, for the crate’s height, measure your pup from the ground to the top of their head (or the top of their ears if they stand erect), again adding two to four inches. Typically, you should add two inches for smaller breeds and four inches for larger breeds.
If you have a growing pup and don’t want to buy future crates, consider buying a crate with a crate divider (or buy the divider separately).
These dividers allow you to buy a bigger crate but slowly adjust the crate’s size over time as your puppy grows. Eventually, you’ll no longer need the divider.
2. Choose the right type of crate
In addition to the crate size, it’s also essential to choose the right crate style for your pup. Crates typically come in several varieties, including wire, plastic, heavy-duty, furniture, and fabric. Depending on your dog’s needs, one type of crate may be better than others.
For example, wire crates are a popular choice for crate training. They are easy to clean, provide good air circulation, can be foldable, and you can use a crate divider with them. This is an excellent type of crate to keep in a room with you, so your pup can see you. However, it may not be the best choice for separation anxiety since your dog can also see you leave.
Plastic crates are another potential option depending on your needs. They are durable, secure, lightweight, provide more privacy, and work well for travel. However, with less circulation, they may trap odors and require more cleaning.
If your dog is a massive chewer or escape artist, then a heavy-duty dog crate might be the way to go, although these crates are usually more expensive. However, these crates often last longer, can be used indoors and outdoors, and are relatively easy to clean. They are often made from a stronger metal material with more security features.
If you want your dog’s crate to blend in with your decor, furniture-style crates are a good option. Not only can they serve as a crate, but they can also function as a side table or other furniture piece. Just keep in mind that these crates are more prone to damage from chewing and scratching, and of course, they aren’t portable.
Fabric crates are lightweight, easy to store, and more for travel. However, they’re not recommended for crate training, nor larger dogs. They’re also easier for your dog to escape and can be harder to clean.
3. Choose the right bedding for your dog crate
To make your dog comfortable within their crate, you want to use the right bedding.
Dog crate pads are recommended and can fit nicely within your crate for your dog’s comfort.
If you have a new puppy, it’s recommended to buy an indestructible dog crate pad and waterproof. Your puppy could rip apart weaker materials and end up swallowing them.
Later on, you should be able to switch to a different type of bedding once you’re comfortable that your pup can behave.
There are many choices for dog crate beds, including orthopedic crate beds for joint issues.
Other than a crate pad, don’t add anything else to your dog’s bed. The more items you add, including blankets, towels, and other things, the more likely your pup is to get tangled up, run out of space, and even become too hot.
4. Decide where to put your dog’s crate
The topic of where to put a dog’s crate has various opinions depending on your type of dog and who you ask.
One common recommendation for day crate training is to place the crate where your dog can see others, such as a family room. This way, your pup doesn’t feel isolated or alone during the process. However, you want to avoid a spot with too much foot traffic because your dog might get too excited and want to leave the crate.
Keep in mind don’t place your dog’s crate near anything that can pose a risk, such as near wires or curtain cords that could make their way inside the crate. If your dog isn’t as extroverted, you can also place the crate in a quiet corner to provide more of a safe space.
It’s often recommended to place the crate in your bedroom at night so that your dog feels safe while sleeping. You’re also able to know when your dog needs to go potty.
5. Keep the dog crate clean
For crate training to work, ensure you keep your pup’s crate clean. Wire crates are easy to clean because they usually come with a removable plastic tray or pan that you can wipe down easily.
You want to follow the crate manufacturer’s specific instructions on how to clean it. Use vinegar to deal with odors.
Other common tips are not to leave your dog’s food and water bowls inside the crate; instead, pick them up after your dog’s designated mealtime and use non-skid bowls. Also, wash your pup’s bedding regularly.
6. Avoid hazards in the dog crate
Picture a baby in a crib. When newborns are in a crib, nothing should be in the crib with them, except for maybe a pacifier. Use this same advice when it comes to your dog.
Don’t place anything in your dog’s crate that can be a potential choking hazard. Therefore, be extra wary of the toy you choose to give your dog inside their crate.
Also, don’t leave your dog’s collar and tags on them while in the crate. These items can get caught on the crate and pose a strangulation risk.
7. Don’t reward crying or whining
One common mistake is to let your dog out of the crate immediately when they start crying or whining.
It’s recommended for some dogs to ignore their crying and only let them out of the crate until they’re quiet. Eventually, your dog will learn that their quiet behavior will get rewarded, not their crying.
On the other hand, giving attention to the crying will only reinforce their behavior. If you don’t wait for silence, your dog may begin to associate crying with being let out of the crate and continue the crying behavior.
However, the cry-it-out method doesn’t work for some dogs. You may find yourself waiting hours for them to stop crying. In that scenario, one recommendation is to take them on a potty break each time they cry, so they associate crying only with potty breaks.
8. Exercise your dog first
Exercise is an essential part of your dog’s schedule. A suggested schedule is to have your pup eat, have an exercise and play session, followed by a potty break, and then quiet time in their crate.
When your dog has ample time to expend some energy and be active, they’re less likely to be restless and whiny inside of their crate.
9. Start slow
Don’t expect your dog to stay in its crate for long lengths of time from the start. It’s vital to let them get used to their crate at a slow and steady pace.
The first time, place your dog in their crate for just a couple of minutes, reward them for good behavior, and let them out for some playtime.
Gradually increase the amount of time they spend in the crate until they get used to staying in it for longer periods during house training. Once they’re used to staying in it, you can choose whether you want to open or close the puppy crate while they sleep.
10. Make the experience positive
You want to help your dog associate their crate with good things and positive experiences.
The crate should not be used as a punishment because your dog won’t view it as a safe place to retreat.
Some common tips are to give your dog their favorite treats, chews, and toys inside the crate, along with feeding meals. You can also place a mat or bed inside that your dog already prefers.
Additionally, you want to limit crate time based on their age and housetraining experience. A dog is not meant to be kept in a crate all day long.
11. Consider other alternatives
Some dogs hate being in a crate. While a professional dog trainer may make them feel more comfortable, you may not have the funds or time to deal with the issue.
The purpose of the crate is to make your dog more comfortable, not less. As a result, you may want to consider other alternatives.
Some alternatives include dog gates or playpens. While these may not be best for potty training, they can at least restrict access for your dog to the rest of the house. You could place pee pads within the space in case your dog needs to use the bathroom.
We hope you enjoyed these 11 must-know tips for crate training your dog.
Engaging in a crate-training program and using these tips simultaneously should help speed up the time for your dog to be successfully trained.
It takes some patience, but your dog will learn that their crate is their safe spot in time.
Good luck with adding your new furry member to your family.