You should only start crate training your puppy when he reaches 8 weeks old. Crate training help your puppy to be trained on housebreaking and also prevent accidents from happening. As a general guideline, do not leave your pet in the crate for more than 2 hours. So let’s get started!
First thing, get the right size crate for your puppy. Measure the length of your puppy, from the tip of nose to the base of tail; the height and the weight ; then choose the size of the crate that would suit him.
Of course, if your pet is still a puppy, you will need to take into account his future size when he had fully grown up to be an adult dog and work out on the right crate size. You can go for those crates that comes with a divider that can help you to size your crate accordingly.
The crate should be placed where there is plenty of light, and where your puppy can see what is going on. If you place the crate in an area where there are too many family activities, he might be too busy looking around and this makes the crate training difficult.
Crate training should be done in an area that having neither too many people, nor too many “interesting” things. The crate should be in a room that is fairly confined, and not in an area that had too many people around.
Start by getting your puppy familiar with the new crate. Get him comfortable with his crate by having the door slightly open and place a treat inside. While your puppy is sniffing at the treat, pull the treat back towards the crate and he will follow his way into the crate so as to get his treat. While doing this, praise him for being such a good dog.
Repeat this exercise a few times per day. When he goes in, give him a small treat and say, “Good Dog”. Always say these words in a happy voice. It would take a week or so for your dog to freely wanders in and out of his crate without having to use treat to “lure” him.
Some dogs when going into the crate will get overly excited. If you notice this, try to spend some time to play with your dog to “cool” him down.
Next, decide on the appropriate command for the crate such as “Go to bed” or “Go to your crate”. Keep using these commands to train him so that he will learn to follow these instructions over the time.
Keep in mind to reward him with treat when he obeys your commands. This will create positive reinforcement for your training. Your puppy will know that he would be rewarded for executing your commands and would “love” to do them. Remember to keep praising him until he gets used to go to his crate on your commands.
If you catch any accident while your puppy is in his crate, reprimand him immediately and correct his behavior. Do not wait till he had done with his action as he would not be able to relate his past action with your reprimanding. Do it instantly so that he knows that this action is prohibited.
Your puppy might feel uncomfortable initially when he is being crated and would start to cry, whine and bark nonstop. Do not ever let him out of the crate (just because he cries) as this will make him believe that by crying, he will be able to get out of the crate. Simply say “NO!” and walk away. Once he had quiet down, you may bring him out of the crate.
Until your dog gets used to his new crate, you should have frequent outings out of his crate. This will help him to get used to go inside his new little home. It is important to make your puppy’s crate as comfortable as possible for him. Put some of his favorite toys in it so as to make him realize that the crate is a place to go for relaxation, solitude and security.
Remember, the role of the crate is to give your dog a safe place to be in, so don’t send the wrong signals by placing him in the crate for too long and he won’t enjoy staying.
For me, I would leave my Labrador retriever in his crate for a max of 3 hours at a time. I will do it gradually, starting for an hour, and then increased to 2 hours and finally 3 hours. It is very important not to ever use the crate as a punishment because that will make your dog be fearful of it. You want your crate to be a great place for him.
The rewards for crate training your puppy are well worth the work you put into it. Just remember to start when your dog is a puppy so that you don’t have to worry about him growing up.