How to Crate Train a Puppy

It's good for a puppy to be relaxed in a crate. It's useful when traveling or when at the veterinary hospital. It can help with house training and when a young dog starts to chew everything. Depending on your puppy's temperament and age, it may take a few days or several weeks for her to get used to her crate. Create pleasant associations with the crate by using treats, praise and toys. Always break down crate training into small stages and go at a speed that's right for your puppy.

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Entering the Crate

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Put the crate in a frequently used room. Resist the urge to put in a blanket, especially if you're also potty training your puppy. With the door secured open to prevent it from hitting your pup, drop some tasty treats just inside, and around, the crate. Call your puppy using a playful, excited voice. You can encourage her to go into the crate by placing treats near the back. Keep doing this until your pup is happy to go in and get the food. Whenever she enters the crate, say, "go to bed." Your puppy will come to associate this cue with going into her crate. You can use a well-loved toy if a pup isn't interested in the treats. Your puppy may go into the crate within a few minutes or she could take several days.

Building Up the Time

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Once your puppy is happy going into the crate, you can shut the door for a few seconds. Slowly build up the amount of time she's in the closed crate while you're sitting next to it. Always give her a treat when she goes in and use the cue, "go to bed." Safe toys and chews in the crate will help to keep her amused. If your puppy whines, wait till she's quiet for five seconds before opening the door. If she keeps whining, restart the training from the beginning. When your pup is relaxed in the crate for 5 to 10 minutes, leave the room briefly. After a few minutes, open the door. Do this several times a day, gradually increasing the puppy's time in the crate as well as how long you are out of the room, until she's happy to be in the crate for 30 minutes.

Home Alone

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Your puppy can now be left in the crate for a short time while you leave the house. Invite her into the crate in the usual way, but only shortly before you leave. Go out quietly, and when you come home, let your puppy potty outside and calm down, before you make a fuss. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends a puppy shouldn't be in a crate longer than 30 to 60 minutes at 8 to 10 weeks, one to three hours at 11 to 14 weeks, three to four hours at 15 to 16 weeks old and four to five hours at 17 plus weeks. Avoid leaving a pup in a crate if she's being sick, has diarrhea or during uncomfortably hot weather. It's a good idea to use the crate for short periods when you're home or your pup may associate the crate with being left alone.

Nighttime Crate Use

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You also can use the crate at night. Place the crate it in your bedroom; you can move it elsewhere later. Get your puppy to enter the crate in the usual way. If your pup whines during the night, wait a few minutes. If she doesn't stop, quietly, and without playing, take her for a potty break. Try to take her outside before she wakes you. If your puppy's night whining persists, start her crate training from scratch.