Consistency is key when crate training your puppy. Sticking to a schedule creates a predictable routine for your pup to get used to and sets you up for crate training success. Keep reading to learn more about crate training basics, and how to make a puppy crate training schedule and stick to it.
How to Create a Puppy Crate Training Schedule
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Crate Training Basics
Crate training a puppy is a labor of love, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Beginning crate training early with your puppy helps them feel more comfortable in the crate, giving you peace of mind that they’re safe and sound when you have to be away. Keep these basic tips for crate training a puppy in mind to maximize your efforts and support your pup best.
Choose a Suitable Crate
To successfully crate train your dog, it’s important to make sure you have the right crate. Your dog should be able to comfortably turn around and lie down in the crate, with room for a bed or a blanket to make it cozy. When choosing a crate to start crate training your puppy, it’s also important to keep in mind that most dog breeds will grow in size as they reach adulthood. Buying the right size crate the first time will keep you from having to replace it when they outgrow it.
Teach a Verbal Cue and Hand Signals
Teaching a verbal cue along with a hand signal to let your dog know it’s time to go into their crate reinforces the command. It can also be good for situations where your dog might not be able to see you clearly but can hear you, or they might not be able to hear but can see the hand signal and know what’s expected of them.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Using positive reinforcement when crate training your puppy is important to encourage them to follow your directions when it’s for them to be in the crate. Positive reinforcement rewards good behavior, like giving a treat or verbal praise when your dog performs the desired task (in this case, going into their crate on command), making them more likely to repeat the behavior going forward and communicating to them that this is expected behavior.
How to Create a Puppy Crate Training Schedule
Puppies can seem like they have endless energy, and typical puppy behavior can sometimes look like bouncing off the walls. Strategically harnessing that energy to get in some good training sessions is a great way to build character and bond with your dog. Here’s how to create a puppy crate training schedule that works for you and your dog.
Make Sure Your Puppy’s Basic Needs Are Being Met
Before your puppy can begin to focus on training, whether it’s crate training, leash training, or training basic dog commands, they have to have their basic needs met first. Ensure they’ve had enough to eat, enough water, a chance to use the bathroom, and that they feel safe in their current environment. Without these things, your puppy may have a much more difficult time concentrating, adding unnecessary challenges to the training session you're attempting to have.
Schedule Your Puppy’s Food and Water Consumption
Along with making sure your puppy has had enough food and water to focus on training, it’s important to make sure they haven’t had too much food and water either. Crate training will help your puppy learn to hold it, but they may not be able to hold it for long at first. Scheduling your puppy’s food and water consumption to help reduce the chance they’ll have a bathroom emergency while crate training will help prevent a lot of potential mess if your puppy is still house training.
Identify Times When Your Puppy Will Be Unattended
Being able to crate your puppy to work around your needs is the whole reason for crate training. To help create your initial crate training schedule, start by identifying times that you’ll need to leave your puppy unattended. This might be in the morning when you leave for work, in the evening when you go to the gym, or for short periods of time like while you’re in the shower. Work your training schedule around these times so that your puppy gets used to the routine and the idea that this time of day is a time when they typically go in the crate.
Example Puppy Crate Training Schedule
The perfect puppy crate training schedule might vary from dog to dog, but here’s an example of a potential crate training schedule to get you and your dog started:
- Food and water
- 15 minutes of crate time
- Rest and repeat 3 hours later
Puppy Crate Training FAQs
If you’ve never crate-trained a puppy before, it’s natural to have some questions! Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions from dog owners who are getting started training their puppy.
When Should I Crate My Puppy?
Most puppies can begin crate training as soon as they’re ready to leave their mother and go to their forever home, usually around eight to ten weeks. Introducing crate training early will have your puppy crate-ready even sooner.
Should I Let My Puppy Whine in its Crate?
Letting your puppy cry it out can be tough, but it’s important not to reinforce negative behavior like whining, barking, or crying by letting them out of the crate when they do it. This tells them that if they make a fuss they’ll be let out instead of showing them that crate time is crate time. It’s hard not to give in to them when they whine or howl, but remind yourself that even though they’re still getting used to the crate, there’s nothing actually wrong or hurting them — they’re just adjusting.
How Long Can a Puppy Stay in a Crate?
How long a puppy can stay in a crate depends on exactly how old they are. Puppies younger than six months shouldn’t spend more than three or four hours in the crate at a time. Once they’re over six months, you can slowly start to increase the period they’re left in a crate by an hour or two at a time.
Online Puppy Training Video Courses with Pettable
Avoid the potential headache of crate training your puppy on your own, and let the experts at Pettable guide you through the training process. Our online dog training courses are created by certified, professional trainers. Lessons are designed to be completed at home and at your own pace. Pettable’s online puppy training course videos are your ultimate resource for all things dog training.