If you have never had a dog before, it could be just as hard on you as it appears to be for your pet to put him or her in a crate. But once you observe happy and well-behaved dogs, you will see that they enjoy having a den to relax in. Crate training can take some adjustments, but it is well worth it in the end. Read on for tips on how to crate-train your new dog.
Make the Crate Comfortable For Them
First, buy a crate that will be big enough as your puppy grows. You will want to make sure that you put a bed in the crate so that it feels comfortable to sit and lay on. If you find yourself thinking “how much sleep do I need” before bed, consider that may be how long your dog is in the crate overnight too. So, make sure that the crate is made comfortable for your dog to sleep in.
At night you may want to put a blanket over the crate so that it is dark and cozy while they sleep. Be sure to put your new dog's toys in the crate for them so that they feel like the crate can be a fun place to hang out. Make sure that you have all of this set up before you bring the dog home. This way you can immediately introduce the new crate to your dog as soon as they come home.
Put the Crate In a Good Location
Ideally, you will bring your puppy home on a weekend or a day that you can spend some time together before they are left home all alone. You can start putting the crate in a room where your family spends most of your time, like the living room or den. This way your puppy will still feel like they are a part of the family when they are in their crate.
At night you may even move the crate into your bedroom so that your puppy is still with you in the same room and feels more comfortable. If you do this you may start to see that when your puppy is not crated, he or she will go into his crate on his own to play with his toys or take a nap. They will start to see the crate as their own little bedroom.
Create Crate Games
Before you lock your dog into the crate, show them it can be a positive thing. Try tossing treats or toys into the crate in the beginning and then praise your dog when he goes into the crate to retrieve them. You should repeat this daily and each time that the puppy goes into his crate, say "Go into your crate." This will teach your puppy what the crate is called and you can tell them to go into the crate in the future without a treat or toy.
Once you are ready, tell your puppy "Get in your crate" and when he or she does so, lock the crate and give them the treat through the crate doors. This will reward your puppy for going into the crate on their own. Start your puppy's crating off as short stays so that they can get used to it. Build up the time that they are crated and do not let the first time be longer than an hour.
When You Leave the House
Eventually and inevitably there will be a time where you have to leave the house, either to go to work or to the grocery store. Do your best to take the dog outside and get him or her really tired. Go on a long walk or play fetch with their favorite ball. Play with your puppy and entertain him well before you crate him so that he can go into his crate and sleep while you are gone. Make sure that they get their energy out for at least an hour.
When you leave for the day, leave quietly and when you come back home, arrive quietly also. Do not make a big fuss when you exit or enter while your dog is in the crate so that they do not get too anxious and excited. You will be ready and happy to immediately take your dog out of the crate and start to cuddle, but treat comings and goings as very business-like. If you make leaving the house a really big deal, your dog will treat it like an even bigger deal.