The ultimate goal in crate training is to get your pup to willingly enter the crate and stay for any reasonable amount of time. Being that dogs are den animals by instinct, a properly crate trained dog will perceive the crate as its den or bedroom and will eventually spend time inside when bored.
The crate becomes a safe place for the dog and shouldn't be used as punishment. Crate training your dog may take time and patience, but below are 10 steps to use when crate training your new puppy:
- Introduce the crate to your pup as young as possible. Drape blankets or towels over the crate to give the dog the sense of being in an enclosed den.
- When you bring home the crate, act very interested and try to get inside yourself (at least your head)
- Put a comfortable pillow inside. The crate should be the most comfortable place your pup is allowed to lie. Leave the door always open at first, and if possible, remove the top half to be as open as possible.
- Initially, feed your pup in the crate for every meal. Once your pup is done eating, take out the food and put back the pillow(s) for naps. The goal is for the dog to go into the crate without hesitation.
- Ignore the dog when out of the crate. Keep all attention on the puppy when it's inside the crate. You will no longer have to ignore the dog when out of the crate when the pup's is completely crate trained.
- Hide treats (like bully sticks for puppies) or favorite toys inside the crate and begin to close the door for a few seconds.
- Praise and give a food treat for entering the crate. Ignore the pup when it's exiting the crate.
- Overnight is the first time to lock your pup in for hours. Initially, put the crate next to your bed at night. You can move the crate after several nights if desired, once the pup is used to sleeping in the crate.
- If your puppy begins to whine, take him to his elimination area. If the pup only wants attention, don't give it any and put it back into the crate. There should be no reward for waking you up!
- If your pup continues to whine while not needing to eliminate, try saying, "QUIET" and shake the crate to startle it. After five seconds of silence, gently praise your pup with, "GOOD QUIET"
If your dog soils the crate, don't punish it. Clean up the mess and re-evaluate the feeding and confinement schedule. Consider removing food and water earlier in the evening and take out later before bed. A tool related to the crate is the tether. This is a three foot lead used to tie the dog to a solid object in your presence. The idea is to bond the to you, confine movement to prevent house soiling and get the dog used to the useful notion of being tied. This technique is called, "Close Tethering."