Dogs are den animals which means that they have a natural instinct to look for places that look like dens. Den-like places give dogs a sense of security and this is exactly what a crate can do for your dog. It can be your dog’s safe and quiet place. But although dogs’ instincts allow them to easily learn how to enjoy crates, it’s still a learning process. How your dog sees the crate can depend a lot on how you handle the training process.
Your goal should be to help your dog see the crate as a place to get away from the madness going around the house. It’s where your dog can have some peace and quiet. After picking the right crate, it’s time to jump into the tips on how you can easily crate train your puppy. You can start crate training as soon as the weaning process finishes. This usually happens when your puppy is 8 weeks old.
As mentioned earlier, your dog should see the crate as a safe place to relax away from all the fuss. So it should be set up in a way and in a place that helps provide this calmness.
Place the crate in a quiet place in the house. Avoid placing it in a corridor or anywhere that might have a lot of movement. A great spot for a crate is in the living room area. That way, your dog can be in a calm place while being near the whole family.
Try to place it away from any cooling or heating system. So not in direct sunlight, next to a heater, or on top of a cooling vent. Finally, avoid placing the crate near anything that can harm your dog. Things like power cables or houseplants that can be poisonous to your pup.
Make it extra comfy by placing some bedding and toys inside the crate. You can also cover it with a towel or any piece of fabric to mimic that “den-like” mood your dog loves.
To help your dog see the crate as a safe place, you should use the positive reinforcement method during crate training. Before you start, remove your dog’s collar or anything that can get caught in the crate and become a strangulation hazard.
Remember that the goal is to teach your dog that a crate is a place of comfort and relaxation. So, it’s a good idea to avoid putting your dog in the crate whenever the excitement levels are high. Otherwise, your dog may want to come out of the crate immediately instead of being calm during the training.
Start by teaching a command that will tell your dog to go inside the crate. You can use a verbal cue such as “place”, “bed” or “crate”. It doesn’t matter which one you pick as long as you stick to it.
When your dog goes in, close the door, and then open it again. Let your pup out and reward every time your dog leaves the crate after waiting patiently.
Start small by locking the door for only a few seconds at a time and slowly build up. That way, you’ll be teaching your dog that there’s nothing wrong with being locked in the crate.
After your dog is comfortable with being locked for some time, take it a step further and start stepping out of the house. Once again, start small and take baby steps.
To help speed this process, you can feed your dog in the crate and have your dog sleep in it as well.
There’s no single answer as to how long takes to crate train a dog as it depends on a variety of factors such as its ability to learn, personality, the method you’re using, and more. However, you should expect it to take at least 6 months.
There are some guidelines for the maximum amount of time dogs can spend locked in a crate according to their age. This is mostly determined by their ability to control their bladder. It’s important that before each crate training session, you allow your dog to go out to do whatever needs to be done. Having an empty bladder when going inside the crate can avoid some nasty accidents.
Besides, letting your dog out may also allow some much-needed energy spending. That way, it is likely that your dog will stay calmer and do some serious napping while in the crate.
Here is the maximum amount of time you can leave a dog in a crate according to their age:
- 8-10 weeks: 30-60 minutes
- 11-14 weeks: 1-3 hours
- 15-16 weeks: 3-4 hours
- 17+ weeks: 4 – 6 hours
As with anything in dog training, crates can also have a negative impact on dogs. It depends on how dog owners use them. So it’s up to you to create a positive experience for your dog so that you’ll be able to experience all the benefits of using a crate. If at any point in the training process it seems like your dog has reverted in the training, take a few steps back. Go back to an amount of time that your pup is comfortable with and build it back up again.