Crate training your puppy is one of the first and best steps in their life. And it makes all the other steps in their training go much smoother. To learn more about crate training for your puppy, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions:

Why should you crate train your puppy?

Crate training your puppy early in their life establishes you as the alpha member of the “pack.” It also gives your puppy predictability. Knowing what will happen in any given situation makes your puppy happy and more apt to be the best-behaved dog they can possibly be. Your puppy will feel very safe and secure while inside their crate.

What kind of crate should you use?

A strong crate is the foundation of good puppy training. A wire crate with a locking mechanism is the best kind. Make sure it is large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around. But not so large that they can roam and wander around. A crate that is too large inhibits housebreaking, but a crate that is just the right size will be perceived as your puppy’s “den.”

How do you train a puppy to go into their crate?

Put a soft pad, blanket, or bed inside with a bone. Start by coaxing your puppy to go inside by putting a treat in the crate. Once your puppy goes inside to get the treat, praise them with positivity. Do this several times without closing the door – let your puppy go in and out freely for about an hour. Keep praising them each time they go in and keep the experience pleasant.

When your puppy is ready, and their attention is on a treat, close the door. Praise them quietly, “What a good dog, it’s okay, such a good dog!” In about ten to twenty seconds, no longer, let them out without a word. No praise, just a quick pat on the head. Do this for increasingly longer intervals, and don’t give them a chance to get upset. Repeat this process several times on the first day and make sure every training session ends on a happy note.

Once your puppy sees the crate as their own private territory, they will start going inside on their own – expecting treats and attention. As your puppy gets more comfortable, start leaving the room while are in the crate. Begin with two minutes and gradually increase the time that you are gone. When you return, don’t make a fuss. Just walk over and open the door of the crate.

How long does the crate training process take?

Your puppy should be officially crate-trained in three days. They should be ready to be left alone for an hour, but no longer at first. Gradually leave them on their own for more extended periods of time. But never leave a puppy who’s still under eight weeks alone for more than one hour.

What are some more reasons to crate train your puppy?

When you leave a puppy alone, they will always have some measure of separation anxiety. This leads your puppy to engage in any behavior that brings comfort – like chewing, digging, or even going potty inside. When placed in a crate, your puppy feels safe. While in the security of the crate, your puppy will sleep and wait for you to return.