To crate or not to crate … that was my big question! See the benefits of crate training and the 5-step crate training success plan!

Crate Training 101


To crate or not to crate … that was my big question!

For about a month I went back and forth about buying my toy poodle, Gigi, a crate. While I didn’t want to crate-train her at first, I felt like it was my only option. She suffered horrible separation anxiety as a puppy and anytime I left my house she would get so nervous that she would chew up the rug. Within a few days, my carpet literally had a two-inch hole in it (not so aesthetically pleasing)!

I felt like I had tried everything to get her to stop. First, I tried just leaving bones out … that failed horribly. Then, I tried rubbing bitter apple spray on the carpet … no luck with that either. My little girl actually seemed to like it (she’s a little weirdo)! Lastly, I tried leaving the television on to give her something to listen to … strike out number three.

I don’t know why I had such an issue with putting her in a crate. I grew up with my parents crate training our family pets and they always thrived – potty training moved quicker and they never chewed anything.

Eventually, I broke down and bought a crate. Thanks to the following five-step crate training success plan, my little Gigi took to the crate right away. It actually became her safe haven and she hasn’t chewed the rug since!


The Benefits Of The Crate

Don’t look at crate training as “abusive.” While you shouldn’t leave your dog in the crate for hours on end, there are actually big benefits associated with crate training. They include:

  • Gives your fur baby a safe haven during stressful times
  • Helps speed up potty training
  • Gets your pet into a routine
  • Prepares pets for traveling

5-Step Crate Training Success Plan

1) Fill The Crate With Your Pup’s Stuff

Before you introduce your fur baby to their new crate, fill it up with their bed/blanket and some toys. This will help your pup view the crate as a fun place.

2) Introduce Your Dog To The Crate With The Door Open

If your pup explores the crate on his own, give lots of praise! If not, sit next to the crate and call your canine kid over. After a few moments of exploring, invite your pup inside. The goal is to get him to go inside on his own. To do this, put a treat in the middle of the crate. Once he’s inside, offer lots of praise. It’s important to make the crate a positive place.

3) Close The Door For A Short Period Of Time

When you first introduce your fur baby to the crate, don’t close the door. You don’t want him to feel trapped. Once he seems comfortable with the crate, though, close the door for a second or two. When you open the door, give lots of praise. Try this several times over a span of about five/ten minutes.

4) Leave The Room

Now that your pup is familiar with the crate and isn’t afraid of a shut door, try leaving the room. Leave them in the crate for about a minute. When you come back into the room, stay calm. If your pet is whining, wait until he calms down. If you let your little one out when he cries, he will associate crying with getting what he wants.

5) Leave The House

The first few times you leave your dog in the crate home alone, only leave for a short amount of time. Try a quick trip to the gas station or store.

*While some dogs take to the crate right away, it may take others longer. Don’t rush the process.


NEVER …

  • Never use the crate as a form of punishment. The crate should always be looked at as a positive place and somewhere your pets can go to feel safe.
  • Don’t leave your pet in the crate for more than four hours. It’s important to remember that puppies have tiny tanks – they will not be able to hold their bladders for more than a few hours.

Choosing The Right Crate For Your Dog

Brands, types, and sizes – there are a bunch of different crates on the market and picking the right one is crucial.

Sizing

One of the biggest mistakes dog owners make when choosing a crate is getting one that’s way too big. If you’re using the crate to help potty train your pup, an oversized crate will defeat the purpose. Your dog’s crate should be big enough for him to lie down, stand up and turn around. That’s because dogs don’t want to soil where they eat and sleep. If the crate is too big, they will have room to eat on one end of the crate and go to the bathroom on the other.

Types

Now let’s talk about the type of crate you should use. Here are the four main types of crates (plus, the pros and cons of each)

  • Wire crate
    • Ideal for most dogs
    • Most models come with a removable plastic tray for easy clean-up
    • Most brands are collapsible, making them easy to travel with
    • Escape artists have been known to break out of some brands (check out how the crate closes)
    • Not that attractive
  • Plastic crate
    • This type of crate is good for traveling
    • Good for escape artists
    • Good for dogs who like small, cozy places
    • Your puppy may get too hot in this type of crate since the air circulation isn’t the best
    • Not that attractive
  • Soft-sided crate
    • Good for travel
    • Many are aesthetically pleasing
    • Okay for smaller breeds
    • Not ideal for avid chewers/ destructive dogs
  • Decorative crates (these are often made out of wood)
    • Aesthetically pleasing
    • Not ideal for avid chewers/ destructive dogs