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Crate Training a Dog

brown and white dog laying on a bed in a dog crate

A lot of people are curious about crate training a dog when they bring a new puppy home. To some, it can be a great way to housebreak a puppy and give them a calm space of their own. However, to others, it still feels a little mean to confine a dog to a crate. If you're on the fence about crating training a dog, then you're not alone.

What is Crate Training?

Crate training a dog is to teach them to use a crate as their den. Rather than consigning them to a crate, you’re actually giving them their own space. This type of training is effective as it plays into how dogs behave in the wild.

Plays on a Dog’s Nature as a Den Animal

In the wild, dogs are den animals. This doesn't mean that they spend their entire life in a den, like a mole, but they do have a small space to retreat to. This is a secure and defensible spot that they enjoy being in.

Crates Can Be A Personal Space for a Dog

Dogs are born and reared in den conditions which gives their den a feeling of a safe space. Dogs in the wild will retreat to these personal spaces for comfort. The same is true of domestic dogs, they will find the enclosed space secure instead of confining.

3 Labrador puppies sitting in a wooden crate

Benefits of Crate Training a Puppy

Crate training a dog gives them a secure place to retreat to. However, it has a lot of other benefits. It can help you to train behaviors that are otherwise hard to instill in a dog.

  • Housetraining – A crate-trained dog has a much easier time becoming housebroken than those who have free-reign. This takes advantage of a dog’s natural instinct.
  • Puppies Won’t Often Soil Their Bed/Den – Dogs don’t want to soil their own beds and dens; it is an understandable feeling really. A dog will only soil their own space like this if they don’t have another option.

Crate Training is Good for Calming a Dog During Times of Stress

By providing a secure and personal space for your pet, crate training them can help then during stressful events. It gives them a space to retreat to and helps ease them when stressed. A crate can be helpful in situations like:

  • House Parties – These can be stressful events for dogs. Crate training them gives them a secure spot away from all the visitors spread their smell around the house.
  • Change and Transition – A change in living space can be difficult for dogs. A crate gives them their own space with a familiar smell.
  • Stressful Noisy Times like Thunderstorms – The comfort that comes from an environment similar to where they were raised during stressful events with loud noises.

Another way to help keep your dog calm during times of stress is with CBD infused tinctures or treats. CBD has a natural calming effect that works the same on dogs as it does with humans and can help reduce their feelings of stress and anxiety during storms or parties. This will also help adapt them to the crate, as fewer feelings of stress will make it easier for them to feel comfortable in their crate.

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Get a Dog Used to Not Being Allowed in Certain Areas of the Home

By giving your dog an area that is just for them, you can teach your dog proper boundaries. This can be helpful if you’re keeping areas of the house out of bounds for your dog.

How to Crate Train a Puppy

Crate training a puppy can be a bit of a process. It isn't going to happen overnight, and you won't see the benefits immediately either. However, with a bit of work and commitment, you can make your dog's crate a comfortable and nice space for them.

  • Get Them Used to The Crate - The first step to crate train a dog is to show them the area. Put it somewhere which receives heavy traffic by your household and your dog, and allow them to explore it on their own time without any pressure.
  • Familiarize Them with the New Space - Allow your dog to spend some time in the crate and have a good look round. You shouldn't shut them in there yet or pressure them.
  • Let them Lay in it with the Gate Open to Let it Feel Like a Safe Space - Let your dog get comfortable spending some time in the crate as somewhere safe, this builds a positive association.
  • Put a Comfortable Pad in the Bottom to Help Them with Their Comfort - Your dog is unlikely to be happy in an uncomfortable crate, so put a blanket in the bottom.
  • Use Some Dry Food to Entice Them into the Crate - If your dog is having trouble with entering the crate on their own, food helps. Using treats or dry food as a reward will help build a positive association with doing so.
  • CBD Can Help with This Transition as Well -CBD Oil can be great for reducing anxiety in dogs. If you’re crate training a particularly nervous dog who isn’t happy about being lead into the crate, then CBD Oil can be really helpful.
  • Feed the Dog Inside the Crate - After your pet has gotten used to the crate and going in there to sleep sometimes, you can give them their dish and food in the crate. If there aren’t comfortable with this, try just leaving the bowl in there. Close the door while they eat and open it once they’ve finished eating. After some time, you can build up the amount of time the door is closed.
  • This will allow the Puppy to Get used to Staying in the Crate for Extended Periods of Time - Doing this gradually will help your dog to gain confidence being in the crate. Rather than viewing it as somewhere frightening, they will have a positive association.
  • Be Firm If the Puppy Starts to Bark or Whine When you Close the Crate - You should be firm with a dog than whines to come out. However, this has to be combined with pretty generous with treats and praise when they get it right.
  • Teach the Puppy the Word No - This is important for general training. However, in the context of crate training a dog, it is important as it allows you to teach the dog what behavior is wrong without opening the crate.
  • Increase the Time the Puppy Spends in the Crate - The amount of time your dog spends in their crate needs to be increased gradually. This should preserve the positive associations and let your dog get the most out of crate training.
  • Increase Time in Small Increments to Let Them Get Used to Sleeping in the Crate – This helps your dog to view sleeping in there as normal.
  • A Puppy Will Eventually Begin to Enter the Crate on their Own – This is a good sign that the crate training is working.
  • Place the Puppy in the Crate Overnight or When You Leave For Work – The process of increasing gradually will let you leave them in there for the entire period without worrying.

It’s important to make sure that their crate is a comfortable space as well. This means additions of a comfortable dog bed as well as items such as blankets, and maybe a toy. This allows your dog to stay as comfortable as possible, and not be too bored and destructive. The BuddyRest Premier Memory Foam Crate Bed is a good bed option for a crate, as it is water-resistant so any accidents that may happen are not a big deal, and the memory foam offers comfort and support, no matter what kind of dog you have.

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Practice Makes Perfect

A puppy isn't going to be used to a crate after only a day. It is going to take some time, and likely some misbehavior from your dog. You can't rush crate training and have to ensure you're doing it at a comfortable pace for your pet. While it might take a while, consistency is important.

Repeating the behavior will get your dog used to the routine. Even if they don't like it at first, the routine will make them happy enough to continue with the behavior.

How Easy is it to Crate Train a Dog?

Crate training a dog isn’t difficult, but it isn’t quick either. This is especially true for adult dogs! It is easy enough to run through all of the steps. The difficulty comes in persevering with this training until it sticks. It might take some time, but it will be beneficial for your dog in the long run.

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Meet The Author 

Jordan Ashley

Jordan Ashley

Jordan is an experienced author who enjoys writing about all things dogs. He loves all animals and when he is not working he spends his time curled up with his two dogs playing video games and maybe enjoying a craft beer.

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