Puppy Crate Training Advice: First Prepare Crate for Smooth Arrival

Dog in Crate
Dog in Crate
Dog in Crate

First off, adjust your own thinking so that you do not view a crate as “puppy jail” and feel sorry for the puppy being in a crate. Part of learning how to train a puppy is understanding her point of view: she feels protected in the crate, it is her own special place. It’s essential that you understand that a crate is not “cruel” — do not think of the crate as a punishment. Most puppies, once familiarized with their crates, accept them as safe and cozy places to nap and hang out — sort of like the caves that were lairs for their wolf ancestors. And think of the stress that the puppy is spared by being safely in her crate: she will have no confusion in distinguishing where and when she can relieve herself. And this will make training a puppy a simple routine of crate, walk, play, walk, crate, walk, feed, walk, crate. (My book The Dog Bible needs only a couple of pages to take the mystery out of house training a puppy and shows you how easy it can be by using a crate.)

What a crate effectively means to your puppy: fewer scoldings, more biscuits (she’ll want to try all the varieties of Halo biscuits — with real chicken, beef and liver, or chicken and cheese)!

Your preparation of the crate and your positive attitude towards it will make all the difference in it becoming a happy, safe place for her — and the foundation of successful house- training.

Five tips to preparing the crate before you bring your little one home.

1) Put the crate somewhere that’s part of the household activity, not tucked away in a quiet dark room or corner. The Little One should feel part of things while she’s in her “den,” not as though she’s been banished. It also gets her used to noises and activities in the human household without feeling vulnerable or overwhelmed.

2) Secure the crate to the floor. You don’t want the crate to slip and slide on the floor, possibly frightening the pup. Put a big towel underneath the crate so it doesn’t slip or rattle around when the puppy gets in or moves around in it.

3) Make the crate inviting and nonthreatening by keeping the crate door propped open when the puppy isn’t in it so that she feels free to come and go when she is out and being supervised. Keep some toys and a chew in there. It should be an inviting place, a safe haven for the pup to come and go to.

4) Sneak a treat into the open crate when the puppy isn’t looking so that when she goes in there to investigate, she’ll sometimes find hidden treasure! You can pop a few Halo Healthsome Cat Treats into the back of the crate for her to find — they are small little nuggets that make a great surprise for a young puppy to find in her den!

5) Do not put any bedding in the crate at first — at least until you have established a regular routine of feeding and walking so that the puppy has no need to relieve herself inside the crate. With some puppies, if you put bedding in the crate (shredded newspapers, a towel or a blanket) it can cancel out the natural instinct that “this is my den to keep clean” and the bedding can encourage the pup to relieve herself on it.

–Tracie Hotchner

photo credit: Shmoomeema via photopin cc

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