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If you are a new puppy owner, chances are using a crate has crossed your mind, and whether you should crate train your puppy or not. The idea of using a crate makes many people feel uncomfortable, because they see it as a cage where you lock up your puppy, like some sort of puppy jail. To them the confinement is cruel.
I get it, when a crate is used as punishment, it is certainly cruel, but when used properly there are many benefits of crate training a puppy.
When you first bring home your puppy, there is a lot of excitement, and your puppy will want to explore his new environment. Well, that is all fine and good because you will be there to supervise and keep a close eye on your pup, but what happens when it is time to go to bed? You certainly can’t keep an eye on your puppy while you are sleeping, and you don’t want your puppy to make a mess everywhere do you?
Well, that is where a crate can be of great help to you and your puppy. The main purpose of using a crate is for house training, and keeping your puppy from roaming freely in your house without supervision.
The goal of crate training is to use a crate long enough until your puppy can be trusted to be left alone without having to rely on a crate.
Besides being beneficial to house training, a crate has many other benefits, which I will discuss below.
If you want to know the best crate to get for your puppy, you can read my article where I review 6 of the best crates available.
1. Helps With Potty Training
Using a crate for potty training is very beneficial and can help speed up the process. By using a crate, your puppy will learn when and where to go to the bathroom, and learn bladder control.
The majority of the time that your puppy will spend in a crate will be overnight, for sleeping. A good idea is to place your puppy’s crate next to your bed so that you are able to hear your puppy whining or scratching, signaling you that it is time to go outside to the washroom.
Your puppy will learn that the crate is a place of his own, a place to sleep and rest. Your puppy will not use the crate as a spot for elimination, because he will not want to pee or poop where he sleeps.
The key to successful potty training, is to make sure to get the right sized crate. You do not want the crate to be too large, if your puppy has too much room, he may use the crate as a bathroom, sleeping in one corner and peeing in the other.
The right sized crate will allow your puppy to be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably. Many crates are designed for growing puppies, and come with a divider panel. The divider panel allows the crate to be used while the puppy is small, and then when the puppy gets bigger the divider panel can be removed for more room.
When your puppy is young, he will need to be let out of the crate at regular intervals. Puppies under the age of 6 months should not be left in a crate for more than 3 or 4 hours. Their bladders are small and they simply cannot hold it for that long.
By letting your puppy out of the crate at regular intervals throughout the night, you are teaching your puppy that the proper place for elimination is outside. When your puppy gets older, he will not need to go out as often during the night, and eventually will be able to hold it throughout the night.
2. Gives Your Puppy A Sense Of Security
When used in a positive way, a crate will be a place for your puppy to feel safe and secure. A quiet sanctuary where your puppy can rest and relax.
Dogs are natural den animals, and they feel safe and secure in a den like space, which a crate will provide.
When your dog is feeling stressed or anxious, he will look for a safe place to hide and feel safe, and a crate will be of comfort to him.
There are many unknowns to puppies, and many things can frighten them. For instance, thunderstorms, and fireworks, many puppies and dogs get scared of loud noises and often run away. Wouldn’t you rather have your puppy safe at home in his crate, than escaping out the door in fear?
If your puppy is part of a busy household with small children, a crate will offer a safe and quiet place for your puppy to get some much-needed rest, away from the hustle and bustle. Small children don’t always understand that puppies get exhausted, and need some time alone.
Remember to let small children know that when your puppy is in the crate, he shouldn’t be disturbed, and that the crate is the puppy’s “den”.
3. Keeps Your Puppy Out Of Trouble
There will be times when you can’t always watch your puppy, like when you have to shower, go to the store, or are busy cooking, that is when a crate will benefit not only you, but also your puppy.
Using a crate for your puppy when you can’t watch him, will keep your puppy safe and will keep your home and your possessions from being destroyed.
Puppies are little chewing machines, their teeth are razor sharp, and they will chew on anything, and that includes your furniture! You do not want to come home and discover that your puppy has chewed your couch apart, or has chewed a leg off your kitchen table.
You also do not want to come home and search every room in your house for possible pee spots or poop!
By keeping your puppy in a crate, you don’t have to worry about anything in your home being soiled or damaged.
Puppies have a tendency to quickly get themselves into situations that could cause them harm. You really need to watch puppies like a hawk, because they can quickly chew on dangerous items like electric cables, or swallow something toxic.
A crate will keep your puppy safe from being electrocuted, poisoned, and will prevent your puppy choking on something that he shouldn’t have chewed on.
4. Keeps Your Puppy Safe While Traveling
Using a crate for your puppy while you are traveling in a car will keep your puppy safe, and your car interior from being chewed on.
You may just be driving down the street to take your puppy to the neighborhood park, which is only 10 minutes away, but a puppy can do a lot of damage in just a short amount of time. Do you really want to risk having your car seats chewed up by those razor sharp puppy teeth?
Keeping your puppy in a crate for car rides, will prevent your puppy from being thrown around the vehicle, in the case of an accident, or in case you have to swerve or brake hard.
Your puppy may not enjoy car rides, or might even be scared of them, and using a crate will give your puppy a sense of safety and security.
If you are taking your puppy with you for overnight travel, and you are staying at a hotel or staying with family, your puppy will feel more secure and will be able to adapt easier to the new surroundings. By taking your puppy’s crate with you while you are traveling, your puppy will have something familiar and comforting, kind of like a security blanket.
5. A Safe Place To Rest While Your Puppy Is Sick Or Injured
A crate will offer your puppy a calm and safe place to rest when he is feeling sick, or is injured. Puppies will know when they are sick or in pain, but they don’t understand that continuing to play will cause further harm or injury.
By keeping your sick or injured puppy safely confined in his crate, you can have peace of mind knowing that your puppy will not re-injure himself, or get sick all over the house.
If your puppy has just had surgery, you know how important it is to let them recover and heal. Your puppy will probably be tired and groggy right after having major surgery, but then the next day will be lively and want to play. Keeping your puppy confined in a crate, will allow your puppy the time to heal and recover.
6. Allows Your Puppy To Be Part Of The Festivities
Your puppy is part of your family, and you want to include your puppy in celebrations and family gatherings, but your visiting guests may not feel the same way as you.
Puppies get over excited and can be a lot for some people to handle or get used to, especially when they jump up on you. A crate will allow you to confine your puppy when he gets over excited, but it will still allow your puppy to feel included in the festivities.
Without a crate you would have to put your puppy in another room, the basement, or outside, in order to please your guests. By placing your puppy’s crate in the same room, your puppy will still be able to be included, and will be spared the feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It is important to include your puppy in as many family activities as possible, so that your puppy feels like he is part of the pack. Dogs are highly social animals, and they love to be with their family, including your puppy in activities will help to create a strong bond.
7. Teaches Your Puppy To Enjoy Downtime And Be More Relaxed
A crate is a great way to teach your puppy to enjoy some calm and quiet downtime. Once your puppy is crate trained, and associates the crate as a place that is his own, your puppy will go in his crate voluntarily whenever he feels like taking a nap or needs to relax.
By placing your puppy in his crate for a nap, you are teaching your puppy not to expect constant attention from family members.
8. Allows Your Puppy To Enjoy A Meal Safely
Some dogs can be very territorial, especially when food is involved. They have a fear of food being taken away from them, or stolen by another animal in the household, and they will often guard their food, or gulp it down quickly.
Young puppies may display guarding behavior, because they had to compete for food with their litter mates. When mealtime comes around, your puppy may become stressed and feel the need to guard or quickly eat his food.
By placing your puppy’s food in his crate, your puppy will be able to eat his food without having to worry about it being stolen or taken away. Your puppy will also be able to enjoy a bone or a stuffed KONG peacefully.
9. Prepares Your Puppy For Other Crating Experiences
Chances are your puppy will likely be put in a crate at some point in his life, like at the vet’s office, at the groomer’s, while traveling, or at a boarding facility.
You will be doing your puppy a favor by crate training him now, so that he doesn’t get stressed or anxious about experiencing a crate for the first time somewhere else. Crate training a puppy is easier than having to crate train a dog.
Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Crate Training
In order for crate training to be a success, and for your puppy to enjoy the benefits of using a crate, I have put together a list of do’s and don’ts.
- Make sure to get the right size crate. Your puppy should be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably, without having too much room to use the crate as a bathroom.
- Introduce your puppy to his crate slowly, and always make it a positive experience. Reward your puppy for going in the crate, you may have to place treats inside to entice him to go in.
- Make the crate comfortable. Put soft bedding and a few of your puppy’s favorite toys in the crate.
- Make sure your puppy has eliminated before he is placed inside the crate for any length of time.
- Make sure your puppy has been exercised and has had an adequate amount of activity, before being expected to settle down for the night.
- Make sure to check on your puppy at regular intervals throughout the night, and let your puppy outside to eliminate. Your puppy will signal you when he has to be let out, by barking, whining, or scratching.
- Place the crate beside your bed, or nearby, so that you are able to hear when your puppy needs out. Having the crate near you will make your puppy feel less isolated, and he will feel more secure.
- Don’t use the crate as a form of punishment. Your puppy will associate the crate in a negative way, and will refuse to go inside.
- Don’t force your puppy to go inside.
- Don’t use a crate that is too large, you don’t want your puppy to have room to use it as a washroom. This will slow down and defeat the purpose of potty training.
- Don’t rattle or bang on the crate when your puppy whines or barks. This will only scare your puppy, and cause more whining and barking.
- Don’t leave your puppy in the crate for an extended amount of time. Your puppy should not be left in a crate for any longer than he can hold his bladder and bowels. For young puppies, this means no longer than 3-4 hours. When crating your pup overnight you should expect to get up at least 2 times in the middle of the night, to let your puppy out.
- Don’t overuse the crate. If you work all day, you can’t expect to leave your puppy in a crate all day. Take your puppy to a doggie daycare, hire a pet sitter, a dog walker, or have a friend or relative take care of your puppy during the day. Puppies need to be socialized, and have activity throughout the day.
- Don’t let small children or other family members bother your puppy while he is in the crate. When your puppy is in his crate, he should be left alone to enjoy some peace and quiet.
- Don’t put your puppy in the crate with a collar or leash on. The collar or leash can get caught in the crate and cause strangulation.
Here is a short 5:56 minute video, showing you how to crate train your puppy.
Final Thoughts On The Benefits Of Crate Training A Puppy
When used properly, a crate has many benefits for your puppy as well as yourself. A crate will speed up the process of potty training, and will save your house from being soiled and damaged from a free roaming unsupervised puppy.
A crate becomes a safe place for your puppy to go to when he is scared of fireworks, thunder, or other loud noises.
Crate training is one of the best things you can do for your puppy. Having a crate trained dog is great when you are traveling, going to the vet or the groomer, or when you have to board your dog at a kennel.
Crate training takes time and patience, but with a little effort now, you will be rewarded with a well-behaved and happy dog.
What About You?
Do you have any experience crate training your puppy? Please share your thoughts and opinions below in the comment section.