Crate training, also called kennel training, teaches a dog to spend time in a plastic, wooden or wire enclosure called a dog crate. A common misconception is that this is cruel, when in fact dogs actually love the security of the crate.
The crate simulates the den environment of a wolf, so not only is crate training humane, it actually draws on natural canine behavior.
When should you start crate training? On the first night you bring your pup home. You should of course have already bought a crate, and hopefully you got one with a sliding panel. Adjust the panel so that you give the puppy just enough space to lie down and turn around. Don’t be tempted to give the pup more space than that.
Use a soft towel as bedding, rather than a blanket. The towel will be just as comfortable, but better at mopping up any spills.If you got your pup from a breeder, ask if he has a strip of bedding which has her mother’s scent on it. The scent will help to pup relax and settle in quicker.
Put the crate in an area that will allow the pup to interact with the family. Don’t put the crate in a secluded spot as the puppy will feel isolated and take longer to settle. Remember that dogs are social creatures by nature.
At night you should put the crate in your bedroom – at least in the early weeks. The puppy will kick up a fuss at first. This is only to be expected, as she’ll be frightened by her new surroundings and most likely missing her mom and littermates.
Don’t feel you have to respond to every whimper though. Do this and she’ll soon figure out how to get you to come running.
Before you know it she’ll be quite happy to sleep in her crate. As she settles into the household you can start thinking about moving her out of your bedroom at night. She won’t like this at first and won’t be afraid to let you know it, but hang tough and she’ll soon accept the new situation.
Soon the crate will be her favorite spot in to whole house, and you’ll find it’s where she prefers sleeping.
Another benefit of crate training is that it makes potty training so much easier. Dogs are hygienic animals. They will not ‘go’ in their sleeping area. So crate training teaches your puppy to ‘hold it in’, from an early age.
Remember though that a puppy does not have the control of an adult dog, so give her regular toilet breaks every hour or so.
If she starts making a fuss and wanting to go out, get her outdoors right away. Give lots of praise when she relieves herself outside and your potty training will be much easier.