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8–11 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

How to Get Your Puppy Used to a Crate :: A Guide to Your Puppy's First Round of Vaccines :: Five Steps for Housetraining Your Puppy in (Almost) a Week :: How to Review Your Puppy's Diet for Optimal Health

How to Get Your Puppy Used to a Crate

You've just brought your new puppy home and after hours of oohing and awwing, you wonder what to do with him while you cook dinner. There are risks in leaving your pup unwatched as he can get into trouble in a second. There is also a good chance he'll have a hard time sleeping at night for a while. And he'll need a place to call his own when the kids get too rough or the cat won't stop chasing him.

The best and easiest solution to this problem is crating your puppy. When you give your puppy a crate, you are giving him a place that is safe and secure. Not only does crating him give you peace-of-mind, it mimics the den-like atmosphere that he naturally seeks out. It also provides an area which he is unlikely to soil and thus helps in house training. But how do you get your puppy to accept and like a crate? It's a simple process which, begun early on, will become habit for both of you very quickly.

The main direction to take is a positive one. If your puppy is afraid of his crate because you drag him in there, he's unlikely to use it on his own or be comfortable after you've shut the door.

  1. Cover the crate with a blanket on three sides. This will make your puppy feel more comfortable and will help him sleep at night.

  2. Start with the crate in an area where the family hangs out. If he can see others around him, he'll be less likely to feel abandoned.

  3. Take as much time as is needed to let your puppy explore the crate himself. Using a treat, encourage him to go in and praise him when he comes out.

  4. Put secure and fun things in the crate. Have a good crate bed, some chew toys, water and any blanket that your puppy fancies.

  5. Do positive things in the crate like feeding your puppy there and petting him if he goes in and lies down.

  6. Begin by closing the door for only seconds at a time and build up to longer stints from there.

  7. Keep a white noise machine or a ticking clock near the crate when you're gone. This helps sooth the puppy and helps him sleep.

Your pup may whine a bit at first when he is left for longer periods of time. Resist opening the crate immediately. He is fine and will get used to it. Getting a dog used to a crate as young as possible is imperative. Older dogs can certainly be crate trained but it is more difficult, so do it now.

There is no better solution to avoiding chewed up shoes, getting a good night's sleep and having a less anxious dog than crating. With a small amount of time up front, you will ensure his safety and finally have time to do your nails.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

How to Introduce a Crate Positively

When it comes to crate training, try to make it as positive an experience as you can. The crate should be a safe haven, not a punishment box.

Allow your dog access to it during the day, and if you see her going in there on her own, reward her and praise her. Toss things in there from time to time so she goes in to get a reward, and don't lock her in.

Make it so your dog is able to go in and out when you are home and it doesn't hurt to put your pet in there from time to time with a chewy while you are home and shut the door as well, letting her out a little while after she finishes, but only if she is quiet.

~Karolyn W., owner of German Shorthaired Pointer

Getting your puppy used to the crate

Start feeding your puppy inside the crate with the crate door open. After a couple of days, feed with the crate door closed.

Throughout the day, ask puppy to go into the crate and toss a toy or treat in for her. Praise her for going in. After a couple of times, start closing the door with you being right there. Then work on longer times of being in the crate with you there, then with you in a different room. Praise for good behavior, use treats, and don't respond when your puppy cries, only when she's quiet.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

Getting your puppy used to a crate

We have toys, bones, and a nice blanket in the crate with our baby. She whined at first, but you have to leave her in there even if she whines. We then take her immediately outside and praise her with positive reinforcement such as treats, bones, or giving her a toy that wasn't in her crate.

~Liz P., owner of a Saint Bernard

Never Punish Your Pup in the Crate

We made sure not to make our dog's crate seem like a punishment or making him feel confined and abandoned when we left. The more time they spend in the crate they more comfortable they will be in there.

We started feeding him in there and he sleeps in his crate but being a Weimaraner he did not like to be cooped up at first. We always used treats to get him in at first and paired it with a command of "Go to your house."

I got some great advice from a friend of mine who boards dogs in Frisco. She suggested placing the crate facing the TV so they can have something to watch while you are gone.

~Kyle M., owner of a Weimaraner

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