Crating a puppy or an adult dog is a procedure widely recommended by trainers, groomers, veterinarians, animal shelters, and behaviorists. You and your dog will love crates! There are numerous benefits to crate training your dog:
Security for your dog
Safety for your dog
Prevention of costly damage (due to chewing, investigation, elimination, etc.)
Help with training proper chewing and elimination
Easy traveling (helps your dog become accustomed to caging for traveling and boarding)
Improved dog/owner relationship (fewer problems means less discipline for your puppy and less frustration for you)
The first step is to purchase the crate. The main thing you must remember is the puppy needs enough room to stand and turn around- even when he is full grown. Two basic styles exist: the metal, collapsible crates with tray floors and the plastic traveling crates.
Some dogs will adapt better to a small room, run or exercise pen. Crate training can be accomplished in several days, or may take several weeks, depending on the age, temperament, and previous experiences your puppy has had. Two important things to keep in mind with your puppy while training, first, the crate should always be associated with something pleasant for the puppy and second, training should always take place with a series of small steps.
Put the crate in an area in your house where you and your family spend a lot of time, such as the family room or kitchen. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Bring your puppy over to the crate and talk to him excited and in a happy tone. Do not place your puppy in the crate and expect him “to get used to it”. Leave the kennel door open (securely fastened so it doesn’t accidentally hit your puppy) and let your dog investigate the kennel on his own.
Drop small pieces of food around the crate, just inside the door, and then gradually all the way inside to encourage your puppy too enter. DO NOT force your puppy into the crate. Repeat this until your puppy will enter the crate calmly. If your puppy is not interested in the food, try tossing one of his favorite toys inside instead. This may take just a few minutes. After your puppy has been introduced to the crate, you can begin feeding him regular meals near the crate. This is creating a positive reward with the crate. If the puppy is entering the crate calmly you can place the food at the rear of the crate. However, if the puppy is still reluctant to enter the crate place the dish at the front of the crate. Each time you feed the puppy place the dish further into the crate. Once your puppy is comfortable eating in the crate you can close the door while he’s eating. This is best tried when your dog is tired. This should be after exercise, elimination and a period of play. At first. open the door as soon as he finishes the meal, let him out, and praise him. With each meal increase the amount of time he is expected to be in the crate. If he whines to be let out, you may have increased the time too quickly. Next time try a shorter period of time or a light correction may need to occur. This correction should be done without the puppy seeing you. Use a squirt of water or a gravel jug.
Always be sure that you release your puppy from the crate after he has stopped the whining or barking. Never let the vocalizing results in release this will result with behavior problems.You can now begin to crate him for short periods of time while you are at home. Use food to reward the puppy for entering the crate and use a command such as “crate” or “kennel up”. Sit near the crate for 10 minutes and then go to another room.
When you return be sure to sit quietly and then release the puppy from the crate. Once your puppy is comfortable with this start leaving your puppy for short periods of time while you are away from the home. Don’t forget to reward your puppy when he enters the kennel. As you start to crate the puppy and leave him alone be sure you put the puppy in the crate for 2 to 20 minutes before you leave the home. Never let the crate be a sign you are leaving the puppy home alone. The same applies for returning home. Do not inadvertently reward your puppy for excited behavior when returning. Always continue short periods in the crate while you are home from time to time so the crate is not associated with being left alone.When crating your puppy at night it would be a good idea to place the crate in the bedroom or hallway. If you have a young puppy sure the time is not in excess of 6 hours.
Once your puppy is sleeping through the night you can slowly move the crate to a more preferred location. Remember if your puppy is whining it will be difficult to decide whether he wants to be let out or because he needs to eliminate. If you are convinced the puppy doesn’t need to eliminate, ignore the whining. You cannot give in, otherwise you have taught him whining results in release of the crate. When crating your dog, it is a good idea to use break away collars or remove the collar from the dog.