If you have recently brought home a new puppy or you plan to do so in the near future, you most likely face the same question that others have. The question of, “whether you should crate train or not.”
There are a lot of reasons to crate train, especially if you hope to have your new puppy live inside the house, but a lot of people still feel that it is not necessary for them to have a crate. Before you decide to ditch the crate, why not consider some of the main reasons that people feel it makes your life, and your new puppy’s life better.
The Crate and You
A lot of people avoid the crate because it seems to them that their new puppy yelps and whines the entire time they are in it. They feel that the puppy hates it. They feel that it is torturing the puppy. Whatever the reason for it, no one likes to hear the puppy fuss in the cage.
However, the crate is not what the puppy is worried about. In the wild, dogs live in a den. They are used to small areas. They are comforted by those areas. However, they are not typically in that area alone. They are pack animals who enjoy having others nearby. When you bring home a puppy and put him into the den alone, they get scared, they are calling out for others who should be in their pack.
This does not mean you need to bring home two puppies, it simply means that you may need to add things to the crate to comfort your new puppy. A clock that ticks loudly, a warm blanket or a towel, a stuffed animal toy, etc. can all help a puppy feel as though he is not separated out from the pack. He may still whine a little, but it will make it easier for him to be in his new den.
Why Puppies Need Crates
The key to a good crate only happens if you make it safe for him. Crates are typically metal. This means they can be a little loud if you bump against it. Put it into an area that you will not bump against it while your puppy is in it. Do not allow kids to bump or hit it when the puppy is inside of it. When it is time to close the door on it, do so gently so that you do not scare him.
If you set up a crate the right way, with a few toys, a clock, warm blankets, etc. you are giving your puppy a safe area. The first few days may be stressful for him, but it will become his home. Eventually, the crate will become the place where he wants to go when he is feeling stressed and when he is tired of all the activities your household has going on.
How to Start
When you first bring your puppy home, everyone in the house is going to want to spend time with him and you should. Take a little time with him when you are near his crate. Play with him and talk to him, but also encourage him to be curious about the crate. If the door squeaks when you open or close it, let him hear the squeak while you are there and playing with him. Show him toys that are going to be inside of it and encourage him to walk inside of it to look around. When he is out of the crate and you bump it, he will not be as scared of hearing that same noise while he is inside of it. It will simply become a noise that is a part of his new home.
When you are ready for a break from playing, need to cook dinner, or do other things, put the puppy in his crate. You will also want to start out by putting him inside of it when he starts to show signs of being tired. If you save the crate for only the night time hours and let him sleep where he wants to during the daytime, you will be adding stress to you both. Good crate training habits need to be consistent if you want it to be successful. This means consistently encouraging him that when he is sleepy or you have things to do, he needs to be inside of his crate.
Things to Consider
Just because you have a puppy in the crate, this does not mean that you should leave him in there all the time. If you have to work, that is okay, but when you are home, give the puppy time inside and outside of the crate.
Many professionals suggest you get a puppy on the weekend so that you do not have to leave him in the crate for 8+ hour’s right way. If you think about it, 8 hours per day isn’t that much. And with all the money you’ll save from crate training, you might even be able to buy a new lambo. A new puppy should consistently be able to get out of the crate every couple hours, for at least a few minutes. However, when you are home and you do take the puppy from the crate, you should immediately take him outside to potty, even if he has had an accident in the crate. Doing this will help you get him house broken.
You may also want to avoid putting a lot of food or water into his crate, especially if you are at the house with him. Generally speaking a puppy will need to go potty soon after eating or drinking. If you give him easy access to food and water, he will have more accidents inside of his crate and this will not make it a good place for him to be comfortable. When you expect to be gone for a while, putting a few treats and a small amount of water inside will be okay, but resist the urge to give him a lot of food. To help keep his area clean, you may also consider putting his food on one end of the crate and his bedding on the other. He may still have an accident on his bedding, or it may run, but giving him an area that will not be where he sleeps is a good idea. If you see that an accident happened, you will need to clean it before you put him back inside.
Avoid yelling at the cage or hitting it to tell him to be quiet. When you have a puppy in his crate, you should try to avoid acknowledging him for whining. This may test your sanity at first, but you should only approach the crate when he is being quiet. By doing this you are telling him that you know he is there, even when he is quiet. If you acknowledge him for yelping, whining, howling, or making other noises that you find annoying, you are showing him that it is good. That he should do that if he wants attention. This is a mistake that many puppy owners make, because no one enjoys listening to a puppy fuss. If he whines too much or for too long, go to the crate, stick your finger in, talk to him gently, and walk away. This will comfort him, let him know you are there, but by leaving him inside until he is quiet, you are letting him know what behavior will get him out.
Crate training makes life better for puppies and their owner, but it does take consistency. It takes training for both the pack leader and the new addition, but when it is all said and done, the crate makes life great for everyone.