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Dr. Rosie DVM

Crate Training

Crate training offers several advantages for a puppy's development. It provides a secure environment to deter indoor accidents, offers a retreat from excessive handling by young children, and helps prevent destructive or hazardous behaviors when the owner is absent. Moreover, crate training can promote independence by teaching the puppy to remain calm when left alone, which is crucial for preventing separation anxiety.

Following these steps can help make crate training a positive experience for your puppy and set her up for a lifetime of good behavior and independence.

Benefits of Crate Training

  • Prevents inappropriate elimination in the house.
  • Provides a safe place for the puppy to escape excessive handling by small children.
  • Helps prevent destructive and potentially dangerous behaviors in the house when you are away.
  • Aids in teaching independence and calmness when left alone, preventing separation anxiety.

Crate Selection

  • Choose a crate with dimensions that allow the puppy to sit, stand, turn around, and lay down comfortably.
  • For a small puppy that will grow into a larger dog, use a larger crate but block off most of it so the puppy doesn't have excess space.

Making the Crate a Happy Place

  • Place the crate in an area where your family spends a lot of time.
  • Consider using a DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) diffuser nearby for extra comfort.
  • Toss delicious treats and toys inside the crate and allow the puppy to explore it on her own.
  • Start with the door open and let the puppy walk in and out several times before closing the door.
  • Feed meals and provide food-stuffed toys inside the crate with the door closed, once the puppy is comfortable.

Bedtime Routine

  • Have the puppy sleep in her crate, ideally in your bedroom or near you.
  • This allows for easier settling, and you can hear if she needs to go out during the night.
  • Provide a special treat in the crate at bedtime to make it a positive experience.

Gradual Increase in Time Spent in the Crate

  • Start with short periods of time with a food-stuffed toy or chew toy.
  • Leave the room for short periods while the puppy is occupied in the crate.
  • Gradually increase the time spent in the crate as long as the puppy remains calm and relaxed.

Responding to Cries or Whines

  • If the puppy cries or whines, the training may be progressing too quickly.
  • End sessions before any stress begins to set in to set the puppy up for success.
  • Monitor for signs of anxiety such as panting, yawning, and salivation.
  • Never punish the puppy for vocalizing in the crate.

Timing of Confinement

  • Never confine the puppy longer than she can realistically be expected to hold her urine and feces.
  • Use an exercise pen or baby gate to confine her to a larger area if needed.
  • Consider hiring a dog walker if you are unavailable to take her out regularly.

Consistency and Positive Association

  • The key to successful crate training is consistency and making the crate a positive experience.
  • NEVER use the crate as a form of punishment.
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