Crate training your puppy makes getting through the first few months much easier. It simplifies house-training, and makes it easier to keep an eye on your pup. Despite all the advantages of crate training, however, it can be a challenge because puppies generally don't care for them at first.
If your pup likes to chase a ball, toss it into the crate so that he gets it and brings it back to you. If he isn't much on playing fetch, toss a treat in for him to run in and grab. You can also set up his food dish in the crate. You want him to get comfortable going in and out of the crate, and learn it is a source of good things.
Make It Comfortable
Put a towel or some old t-shirts in the crate so your puppy has somewhere soft and warm to lay. Don't give your pup a foam pad or other type of filled bedding, as he may decide to occupy himself by tearing it to shreds while you're away. Place the crate in a spot where he will be comfortable temperature-wise, away from drafty doors or where sunlight will beat down on him through a window. Also consider the noise level. Setting the crate up in the front hallway, where he will hear the mailman, road noise and neighborhood children playing, may make him anxious and unable to relax.
Keep It Short
When you are first introducing your puppy to the crate, shut him in for 10 or 15 minutes, come back, let him out and play and praise him. Repeat the process throughout the day so he learns you will always come back to him. While he may still whine, cry and scratch at the crate, you are doing your part to show him he is not abandoned. Most puppies quickly learn to settle down and nap while you're away.
Some puppies take to the crate quicker than others. Don't give up -- having a crate-trained dog makes life much easier. Once your dog is out of the destructive puppy phase, you will still use the crate for travel or trips to the vet. Keep working with your pup, giving him treats when you put him in the crate, playing with him when you let him out, and ignoring bad behavior while he is in the crate. Scolding him for fussing will only make him more anxious. If you can take him with you on some outings, do so, so he doesn't always associate being put in the crate with you leaving.
by Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.