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How To Crate Train A Puppy & Have Them Love Their Space

Let's dive into the reasons why crate training is such an important tool for dog owners. Crate training serves various purposes, including expediting house and potty training, providing your dog with a private retreat, preparing them for grooming or vet visits, and ensuring their safety during car and air travel. (Hint: did you know that you can purchase crash tested kennels for your vehicle to ensure that your pup is safe guarded in the event of an accident?)

Selecting The Right Crate

Selecting the perfect crate for your pup is a crucial first step in crate training. To ensure the crate serves its purpose effectively, it should be just large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but no bigger than that. This sizing strategy has a specific purpose – it prevents your dog from having enough space to designate a bathroom area inside the kennel space, which can be a huge asset in puppy potty training.

How To Crate Train A Puppy: The Core Steps

Crate training your puppy starts with teaching your puppy to trust and love this space. Here's a short tutorial to show you how I started this process with Quorra as a baby. Let's look at the breakdown of your steps in the video tutorial below.

Some Helpful Take Away Tips

Build Trust Slowly! Building trust with your puppy takes time. Rushing the crate introduction can lead to stress associations. For a hesitant pup, start by placing food just outside the crate. Let him eat and retreat if he prefers. Watch his body language! If he eats and retreats immediately, he's not comfortable. Repeat this step until he lingers at the crate entrance without retreating. Teach him to eagerly hang out here by rewarding him. Gradually place the food closer and closer to the back of the kennel. Only when he confidently enters the crate on his own and expects food should you consider closing the crate door.

Keep The Rate of Rewards High. Don't be stingy with your food here. If your puppy only gets one piece of food every time he approaches, he may weigh his odds and decide it's not worth his time. But if you offer him 5-6 pieces of food per time, it's much more motivating for him to want to stick around. You'll notice this is especially true when we finally introduce closing the kennel door.

Use A Bit of Forced Love. For this training, I use my puppy's daily meals instead of treats. They'll naturally enjoy the process when they realize it's their only mealtime. Using kibble is safer to avoid tummy issues from excessive treats. During this training, the crate is the sole place for food. If they get treats elsewhere, they may hold out. Even picky eaters usually catch on. The goal is to teach them that they must work for their meals. Be consistent at every mealtime. You're not starving your dog; you're offering meals. It's their choice to eat or not. My stubborn puppy took three missed meals to learn this valuable lesson, and she never forgot it.

Interactive Toys Are Your Best Friend. Start with short, necessary absences. Choose tasks like showering, dishes, vacuuming, or laundry where you can't supervise your pup. Once your puppy is accustomed to meals in the crate, give them an interactive toy and briefly leave to do these activities. This teaches desired behavior during your absence. Avoid making a big fuss when leaving or returning. For planned unsupervised times, portion your pup's daily meals into separate interactive toys. This associates your departure with mealtime, helping your puppy accept your absence.

Remember, consistency and patience are your allies in crate training. With time and practice, your pup will embrace their crate as a secure haven. Happy training!

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