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Top 10 Reasons to Crate Train Your Puppy
Making sense of whether to crate train your puppy can be tough. Everyone has strong opinions about whether they agree with the practice.
Make no mistake – being ready to invest time and commitment towards training your pup to love its kennel is an essential part of your job as a pet parent. Dog trainers and behavioral experts agree that crating provides numerous benefits to both pets and their owners, so long as it is introduced and maintained in the right ways. The key is positive association.
There is a lot of information out there, but this blog will examine the top 10 reasons why you should crate train your puppy.
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1. Crate Training Reduces Stress
A popular misconception about crating is that it is stressful for the dog. And while it is true that crate training your new puppy could create an anxious atmosphere if handled improperly, implementing the practice effectively is more likely to reduce your dog’s stress.
Two behaviors play into effect here: a dog’s instinct to den and a dog’s instinct to protect their territory. When a puppy comes to associate the crate as a quiet, happy, safe place, it begins to view this environment as its den. Further, giving your puppy a smaller place to reside when it is alone means a tinier footprint for it to guard and protect. Both things make life easier on Fido, and easier on you.
2. Crate Training Provides Structure
How many times have you heard someone say that the key to any puppy training regiment is structure and consistency? Well, that is because it is 100% true. Dogs thrive on routine, and the fewer variables a dog must take into account when making decisions, the better.
Kennel and crate training your new puppy limit the amount of stimulus to which they might otherwise feel compelled to react. Additionally, using the crate as your dog’s sleeping quarters further assists them in finding security within the routine. Try a command like “inside” or “crate up” when it is time for them to enter. Reward them with a quality treat when they listen. Do this consistently, and your furry friend will come to adore the habitat and routine it offers.
3. Crate Training Allows for an Escape
If you have crate trained your new puppy the right way, they will come to view the kennel as a safe space where they can retreat from things that frighten them. Think of it this way: when a child is scared, they run to their room. That is because they understand their room is a safe, enjoyable spot where they can be comfortable. Dogs can come to associate their crates with the same sort of relief.
When there are fireworks, new guests, loud noises, or other stressors worrying your four-legged companion, a crate will help calm them down and make them feel safe.
4. Crate Training Helps New Pets Adjust
This one goes hand-in-hand with the point about structure. When a dog is presented with too many new stimuli all at once, they can experience severe panic and anxiety. And those are two things you do not want your new puppy to associate with its home right off the bat.
Think back to when you were a child: When you moved, there was a feeling of uneasiness. You had to adjust. But if you could have taken your old bedroom with you, that piece of familiarity might have helped with the process. The same principle applies to dogs and their crates when transitioning to a new home.
5. Crate Training Fast-Tracks Potty Training
Ah yes, the bane of every puppy parent’s existence. Puppy bladders are notoriously weak and owners lament over the reality of having to take potty breaks with their fur baby every hour on the hour, especially in the later hours.
Putting your puppy in the crate at night can save you here, too. Puppies will typically not eliminate where they sleep. So, you can buy yourself a few extra hours of peaceful sleep by crate training your new puppy. Keep in mind, you will still have to let them out several times a night even with a proper kennel routine, but this frequency will lessen over the months as the puppy matures.
6. Crate Training Gives Peace of Mind
There are fewer things that give cause for concern to new pet parents than the fear of their dog chewing up their valuables, or potentially getting into something that could harm them.
Dogs are curious creatures and much like children, they do not always understand what is dangerous to them as opposed to what is a toy. New puppy crate training will keep them safe, curb destructive behavior, and help keep you sane, should you ever have to leave Rover unattended.
7. Crate Training Keeps Things Familiar on Trips
Vacationing is something all of us could use more of in our lives. And a dog should not be something that limits your ability to travel. In fact, bringing them along for the ride can help strengthen their bond with you and let them experience new and exciting sights and smells.
Crate training your dog will allow them to feel at home in whatever temporary lodging you have acquired, enhancing the experience for you both along the way.
8. Crate Training Boosts Confidence
Crate training for a puppy is not something that only benefits their wellbeing inside the home. The confidence they gain from having a den to call their own extends well beyond the boundary of those four walls.
Introducing your dog to stretches of time in the kennel early on does wonders for their developing sense of independence, which pays off in dividends when you must leave them with groomers, at the vet, or in other unfamiliar places. They will feel confident on their own, and you’ll reap the benefits.
9. Crate Training Acts as a Safe Recovery Area
In addition to crating, nearly every owner should consider getting their dogs spayed and neutered (perhaps more on that in a future blog post). And after surgeries such as those, a dog needs a safe place to heal.
Crating a puppy gives them just the environment they need to relax, rest, and recover from vet procedures or unexpected injuries. It also helps you to monitor their activity and ensure they are not behaving in a way that could further injure them, such as jumping on furniture, biting at their wounds, and so on. Safety is the key here.
10. Crate Training Mitigates Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a heartbreaking condition that many dogs – especially those taken from litters too early or adopted from shelters – experience a great deal. Dogs have a pack mentality. And when the pack disbands, even if only temporarily, it can be devastating to a dog’s emotional wellbeing, leading to chewing, self-harm, or worse.
Crate training your puppy from a young age will help them build independence and give them a place to go when they feel unsure or uneasy. Get them accustomed to crating when you leave with five minutes of separation at a time to start. Then gradually increase the time they spend in the crate with you away. In no time, your pup will be staying on its own, happy as can be, without a shred of stress to be found.
When all is said and done, crate training is a reliable, important staple to any dog’s routine. It is psychologically healthy and rewarding for your puppy, and starting on the right foot early in its life can make all the difference down the road. You should take steps to teach your dog how to be comfortable and happy in its crate.
Trust us – your dog will thank you!
How long should you leave your puppy in a crate?
No dog, young or old, should live in a crate full-time.
However, for puppies, a good guide to use is based on their age. Each month of age equals one hour, then add one more hour to it. For example, if you have a 2-month-old puppy, it can be in the crate a total of 3 hours (2 for each month plus one additional hour).
Note: that does not mean you should always keep your puppy in the crate for 3 hours each time, this is just a guide for the extreme amount of time your puppy should be left in his crate before being left out to go potty.
Should puppies sleep in crates?
Puppies should definitely be taught to sleep in their crates from day one. This will help them in many ways (per this article). However, keep in mind that they should not be left in their crate for more time than their age permits (see the previous answer) before being left out to go potty.
What is the best age to crate train a puppy?
The sooner the better. A good age to start crate training is around 8 weeks of age.
When should a crate not be used?
Never use the crate as a form of punishment. Your puppy should learn that its crate gives him a feeling of comfort and security. Using the crate as a form of punishment will have the opposite effect.
Should you put anything in a crate with a puppy?
Bedding – You can put something in the crate for the puppy to sleep on, however, it should be both chew-proof and waterproof, until they are out of their teething and potty-training stages.
Food and water – Food and water are not recommended since they will most likely get knocked over and make a huge mess. From a potty-training standpoint, leaving food and water in their crate will mean more bathroom breaks will be needed. Their food and water should be regulated and on a schedule to help with potty training.
Toys – Only durable and safe toys should be left with the puppy when unattended. I would recommend that you discuss this with your vet to see what they recommend as not all toys for puppies are created equal!
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