Crate training is essential to keep you sane in the puppy months, and to keep your new pup safe when you’re out. Puppies can chew through electric cords, choke on things they shouldn’t get into, or get underfoot in the kitchen creating a dangerous situation for all.
Puppies love structure, and the crate sets them up for success in house-training, and in learning to self-soothe. Quite simply, you can train your puppy to see his crate as a safe haven, not a punishment. My dogs will often go to and lie in their crates with the door open. There are no negative connotations attached to their crate.
Remember, Crate training needs patience. Hang in there, and within a few days, you’ll be so glad that you did! As sad and pitiful your puppy may sound, now that the challenge now is going to make the rest of puppyhood so much easier on both of you.
Dogs tend not to go potty where they sleep. That’s not to say that a puppy won’t have an accident or too, but if you’re pretty vigilant about setting a schedule, and sticking to it, in no time at all, your puppy will understand what is expected of him.
Firstly, the size of the crate is very important. If it’s too big, he’ll potty in the corner. If you want to get a crate that he will grow into, then use the diver it comes with to shrink the internal space he has. He only needs to be able to stand up and turn around. He doesn’t need a lot of space.
If your puppy cries the first few nights, which is apt to do missing his mom, siblings, and familiar surroundings, try covering his crate with a sheet or blanket. It makes him feel far calmer and soothes him. It’s so hard to not cave in and let him into your bed, but if you want him to sleep in his crate, you need to set the expectation from the beginning. Put the crate in a bathroom or a laundry room and use noise-canceling headphones if you must.
Even now, my dogs always get a treat when they go to their crate. They run to them, excitedly expecting a tasty morsel. You can put a toy in your puppy’s crate. Each of our puppies at Tutu Cute Doodles goes home with a Snuggle Buddy and it’s the perfect soothing toy to put in with them.
Learn to disguise between a frantic puppy and an upset puppy. A frantic pup that is going berserk in its crate could hurt himself. An upset puppy may cry and scratch at the door, but not to the point of hurting himself. If you feel your puppy is inconsolable, then calmly let your pup out. Take them outside, and try again later. A puppy feeds off your emotions, it is very important to speak softly and keep your movements calm. Take a deep breath and let your puppy know that all is okay. Your puppy will mirror your actions, If you are calm and reassuring, he will also calm down very quickly.
Did you allow your puppy free reign in the house, and he slept in your bed? You are going to have to be patient while you retrain your puppy. Start off with putting a toy and a treat in his crate. Put him in and block the exit with your knee, but keep the door open. Pet him and show him that this is a good thing. Make sure that this positive association with the crate starts during the day before you expect him to sleep all night in the crate. It’s baby steps that ensures success.
Feeding them in their crate, putting their Snuggle Puppy in there, or a high-value treat such as puppy stick and laying down next to your puppy during the door when he is in there all acclimatizes him to his new sleep area in a positive way.
Make sure they get plenty of exercise during the day, that they’ve relieved themselves outside, and put the exhausted puppy into his crate. He shouldn’t cry for more than 15 minutes if all his immediate needs have been met and he’s tired. Cover his crate and try to distract yourself. I know it’s gutwrenching to hear him cry, but believe me when I say you’ll be so glad you did!
Crate training makes having a puppy so much easier and makes potty training a breeze. Try not to second guess yourself. You didn’t pick the wrong puppy, this isn’t impossible. It’s trying, but stick with it, and in no time at all, you’ll reap the benefits.
Remember, if every time he cries and you give him attention by checking up with him, you send the message that crying gets him attention, and he’ll cry and whine all the more. You can reinforce negative behaviors if you are not careful.
How long should your puppy be in its crate? I’d start off with shorter intervals. An hour or two is more than enough in the beginning. Remember, that your tiny puppy has only a small bladder. About one hour per month of age is all a puppy can hold their bladder.
If all else Fails
- at night, bring them into your room so they smell you, and you can tap on the top of the cage to reassure him that you are still there.
- Put them in a room where there is music or the TV on so it’s not so quiet.
- Cover their crate.
- Put them in a room far enough away from your bedroom that you can’t hear them.
- Get them on a feeding/watering schedule so their bodies get on a regular routine.
- If you have another dog, put their crate next to the puppy. I have even put a puppy in with a friendly older dog! They love the company.
Be creative, be flexible and be persistent. It will pay off in no time. Most of all don’t despair. Everyone goes through an adjustment period with a new puppy. The quicker you get through it, the quicker you get to enjoy your puppy!