How To Crate Train a Puppy


I know from personal experience how annoying it is when your puppy refuses to enter its dog crate, squealing and barking as soon as the door closes.

Below you’ll find my crate training tips for your puppy for fast results.

how to start crate training

Puppy crate training – the introduction

Introducing the dog crate to your new puppy the proper way is crucial so let’s start there.

If you prefer watching my YouTube video regarding the introduction of the dog crate you can do so by watching the video below or keep reading.

Dog crate preparations

Before returning home with your puppy, make sure you made the proper preparations.

For crate training it’s important to place the dog crate in the right spot. During the day, the living room is the ideal place for a dog crate, as this will allow the puppy to notice everything that goes on and is said around it.

The dog crate should be placed strategically in the living room. Not where everyone is walking by or right in front of audio speakers or the television.

Pick a spot that allows the puppy to survey the room, while still granting it enough peace and quiet. The corner of the room could be a good spot, for instance.

Make sure the crate is not in front of an open window because nobody likes to sit in a draft.

Don’t force the dog crate to your puppy

As soon as you arrive home with your puppy for the first time, you allow it to familiarize itself with the objects and the furniture in your living room. You are not forcing anything. Do not focus on the dog crate. Just let the puppy take its time to explore its new home ground. 

Let your puppy eat and drink inside the crate

Once it’s time to feed your puppy, just take the food bowl and walk over to the dog crate. Your puppy is likely to notice you preparing its food, so it will cheerfully walk after you as you go. If you notice that your puppy is hesitant toward the dog crate, you could decide to place the food bowl in the opening to the dog crate. This allows your puppy to enjoy its dinner without having to enter the dog crate completely. Over the course of its next meals, gradually place the food bowl further inside the dog crate, until you have the puppy eating its dinner wholly inside the dog crate. Feeding your puppy inside its dog crate will let it associate the dog crate with a positive experience—and this is exactly what we want to happen. If you notice that your puppy is wolfing down its meals, gobbling it down way too fast, you could opt for scattering the dog food around the floor of the dog crate. This will force your puppy to make a bit of an effort as it searches for the food. At the same time, you’ll be turning feeding into a fun game (inside the dog crate) too! 

Leave the door open during the day

In the initial period, it is important for your puppy to feel at ease whenever it is inside the dog crate. Having the door locked is far less important. The puppy needs to regard the dog crate as a safe and pleasant place to be; you can worry about shutting the door after the dog crate has become just such a place for your puppy. It could be days before you close the door during the day. Closing the door at night is advisable, though.

Provide Pleasant Surprises 

Every now and then, (secretly) place a few treats inside the dog crate. Whenever your puppy happens to pass by the dog crate, it will be pleasantly surprised to see or smell something yummy in there. If you regularly arrange pleasant surprises such as these, you will notice your puppy walking over to the dog crate more often, which is of course exactly what we want. 

The same advice applies here: don’t close the door to the dog crate during the first few days. The first step is making the puppy feel at ease inside the dog crate. Closing the door right away will not help achieve this. 

Enjoying the best treats inside the dog crate 

Whenever you buy your puppy a nice treat, such as a bone or a special puppy snack, you should calmly direct the puppy to its dog crate and then hand it the bone or whatever tasty bite you have waiting for it.

And speaking of nice treats, make sure to check out my partner BarkBox. BarkBox toys and treats are great for dogs of all ages and sizes, perfect for growing puppies. It’ll also help you with puppy biting. There’s a link to one of the newest products on BarkBox’s website in the description below.

Sleep

On average, puppies sleep for 18 hours a day. This will be considerably less at first because your puppy will need to get used to you and to its new surroundings. In the days that follow, you will notice that your puppy needs to lie down more often and have a good little nap. You should consider yourself lucky if it takes these naps inside the dog crate, because 9 times out of 10, this will not be the case. When you notice that your puppy has fallen asleep, feel free to just pick it up and place it on the comfortable pillow you have waiting inside the dog crate. If you are physically unable to lift the puppy up somehow, feel free to direct it to the dog crate by luring it with a tasty snack. Sit beside it for a few minutes and wait for it to go back to sleep. Then, calmly walk away from the dog crate and return to whatever you were doing. Here too, don’t close the dog crate door at first. 

Don’t focus on the dog crate too much 

On the first day, everything is completely new for your puppy: the car ride, a new environment, new scents, and so on. Of course, it is advisable to apply all the tips mentioned earlier, such as feeding the puppy inside the dog crate and arranging pleasant surprises. Do note, however, that you should not focus on the dog crate too much on the first day. Don’t push your puppy to inspect the dog crate every 30 minutes. Try to restrict these moments to feeding times and 1–3 pleasant surprises. As the days go by, you can gradually expand this.

Free crate-training checklist

In this checklist you’ll find six tips on how to introduce your puppy to its dog crate-similar to the tips described above. Print it so you can re-read it.

Click here and download the crate-training checklist for free.

Reduce the size of your dog crate

The advice is to reduce the dog crate’s size at first, making it just large enough for your puppy to lie down inside. The reason for reducing the dog crate’s size is the fact that they are usually much too big at first. Dog crates are usually bought with a dog’s adult size in mind, especially for dog breeds that are expected to grow considerably over time. If you don’t downsize your dog crate, you run the risk of your puppy peeing and pooping inside. If the dog crate is large enough, there will be space for sleeping on one end, with enough space for peeing and pooping at the other end. If you reduce the dog crate’s size, your puppy will try hard not to pee or poop in the crate because most dogs prefer not to soil their own sleeping places.

I also want to stress that dog crates can never replace proper house-training. It is crucial for you to take your puppy outside on a regular basis, allowing it to pee and poop where it should.

Slamming your hand on the dog crate: do or don’t?

Many people wonder what to do when a puppy squeals in its dog crate. Then, someone advises them to slam the dog crate with their hand because that is supposed to stop the puppy squealing.

In spite of these people’s lack of expertise, they are right in what they say. There is a serious chance that your puppy will stop squealing after you slam the dog crate with your hand. However, the reason your puppy stops squealing is that you are frightening it. In fact, it will be scared to death if you strike the dog crate with your hand all of a sudden.

The risk involved in slamming a dog crate is that your puppy may associate fear with its dog crate. You may well find that next time you try to direct your puppy to its dog crate, it will refuse and just freeze or walk the other way. If you pick it up and forcibly put it in the dog crate, it will feel unsafe and uncomfortable, preventing it from calming down. Fear prevails!

You also risk having your puppy associate this fear with you as a person. It notices that you are the one slamming the dog crate, making it feel less secure around you. Your puppy will become less likely to approach you because it doesn’t fully trust you anymore.

All in all, you never want to slam your hand on the dog crate to silence your puppy. Using physical and verbal aggression toward your puppy is a big no-go area!

Realize that your puppy is squealing for a reason. It may be the urge to pee or poop, hunger, thirst, loneliness, boredom and lack of fun and games, cramps, or growing teeth. Whatever the reason, when your puppy squeals, it is trying to tell you something. It is up to you to deal with this responsibly and to find a fitting solution. Again, ask your partner for help when you feel your frustration rising to the point where you can’t avoid getting emotional in your reactions.

Now it’s your turn to take action

So there you have it—I’ve given you some tips you can use to set out on a successful house-training process for your own puppy!

If you care about getting all the best expert knowledge and professional insights to support the training of your four-legged friend, you are very welcome to check out my step-by-step puppy training books. These books follows the new method of puppy training.

Other people with lots (20+ years) of dog experience also follow the the tips and advice in my books.

The information in my books is based on a comprehensive survey comprising no less than 255 questions, as well as on a series of in-depth interviews. A total of 30 professional dog trainers have completed the entire questionnaire, and their answers laid the foundation for the puppy training guide I created for you that can be considered a credible source of information.

Want to know more about my step-by-step puppy training books?

Click here and find out all you need to know about my step-by-step puppy training books.

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