Introducing a Crate to a Puppy
Why Use a Crate
Puppies and adult dogs have a natural liking for enclosed sleeping places - think of how often dogs choose to sleep under the table, against a wall or behind the settee!
In the wild they would seek out a safe den to sleep and rest up. That is all a crate is.
A safe haven where predators could not easily attack them. These dens could be in a bole of a tree, a cave or any other shelter that would keep them safe and secure.
Although their resemblance to cages or prison puts many people off.
If they are properly used and introduced, they can be a helpful aid to training and toileting, and a comfort and bolt hole when the dog is feeling stressed.
Once your dog is happy in the crate, he can be left there to prevent soiling and chewing, when you are out for a short time.
He can be restrained when the kids play noisy, energetic games, which are not improved by his joining in. He will have a secure familiar bed which can be taken in the car and on holiday or a secure place to stay when visiting relatives of friends
It is even better if your breeder has introduced the puppies to a crate at a very early age. The puppies will feel comfortable and settled immediately.
A dog which is thrust unprepared into a crate and left, is going to associate the crate with an unpleasant experience, and be very unhappy about using them in the future.
A dog which is carefully introduced to a crate usually finds it a pleasant and secure place to be, so it is worth spending some time over the introduction process.
I have now started selling crates and playpens in my online store. These are of the highest quality and safety. These are the only crates and playpens manufactured and designed in the UK.
Guaranteed for the life of the dog and beyond. All cages and playpens feature a high quality electro plated finish, to ISO9002 standards, which ensures rust resistance and ease of cleaning, all springs are protected and hinges are passive.
Click HERE to see the range I offer.
How to Crate Train Your Dog:
- The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn round and stretch out when lying down. If he is a puppy, allow for growth. Cover the crate with a blanket or sheet so it is dark, den like and cosy. You can buy ready made covers that fit snugly round the crate.
- If the crate is quite big, section off part of it whilst the puppy is young. This will prevent urinating or defecating in the corners. Never put newspaper in the crate, this only stimulates the dog to toilet in there. Which defeats the object of using a crate for toilet training.
- To begin with you will need to leave the crate set up all the time. Later you may prefer not to, and some crates including the ones I sell, fold flat for easy storage when not in use.
- When left in the crate your dog should have a toy or chew bone to keep him occupied when awake, soft bedding to sleep on, I prefer Vet Bed or the equivalent, and a drink of water. Get a coop cup it clips or screws on the inside of the crate, then you don’t get spills or the puppy playing with the water.
- Initially feed the dog in the crate every day, with the door open. This is an easy way to get him to like it. You should not be closing the door overnight until about 12 weeks of age, as the dog may become very distressed as it is unable to control bowel or bladder movements until this age. Therefore a playpen will allow the puppy to be safe and secure, and still be able to toilet overnight during this critical period
- To keep the puppy safe whilst you are acclimatising it to the crate. Purchase a playpen these are available in most pet stores and I also sell what I believe are the finest and safest on the market. See HERE
- Set the crate up in a quiet corner, and put the dog's bed into it. At this stage, leave the door pinned open, so that the dog is never fastened in by mistake and therefore never gets overly stressed.
- Soon the dog should happily use the crate voluntarily. When you reach this stage, (NOT BEFORE) wait until he goes in for a sleep, then close the door. Stay in the room, and let him out as he starts to wake up.
- When your dog is used to this routine, leave him for a minute after he wakes up, (with you still in the room). Gradually (over about a week) increase the time you can do this. If your dog gets distressed shorten the time on the next attempt. Don't make a big fuss sympathy and lots of attention can make him think you're praising him for being distressed.
He may play up for attention. Aim for the "nursing sister" approach, when she comes to give you a big injection, sympathetic but business like. See my article on Separation Anxiety
- When you can leave the dog with the door closed for a few minutes, leave the room for a short time but stay in the house. Again, gradually increase the time you are out of sight till you can put the dog into his crate when you go out shopping.
- Your dog should never be left in a crate for more than a couple of hours, except overnight. Please remember not to lock you puppy in overnight, until at the earliest 12 weeks of age. I recommend using a playpen to allow the puppy room to move about and play. With the added safety of controlling him when he is teething and learning toilet training. He could be teething up to a year old. To keep your possessions safe and the pup away from harm such as electric cables or other dangerous objects. Then a Playpen with the crate inside is a must. See my article Teething
See a short video on crate training