I have a lot of people ask me for advice on crate training when they hear how much my dogs love their rooms. You read that right. They have room, not crates. We created a safe, special place for our pups. They can go there when they are tired and want to be left alone. They aren’t allowed to go in each other’s rooms, though Ariana (being the sneaky, bratty, typical little sister) will occasionally steal a toy or blanket out of Mufasa’s room to take for herself!
Giving your dog a place to call their own is so important to their well-being. In this blog, we will reveal our secrets to crate training for a happy, healthy pet!
Select a Proper Crate
Before you bring your new pup home, pick out a crate that is the right size for your pup as a fully grown adult and not when they are a puppy. Most crates come with a divider so that you can size it down and keep giving them more space as they grow until they can eventually use the full crate. They should be able to easily stand up and turn around, as well as lie down comfortably.
I like to get a slightly larger size than they need because I use an elevated bed in their crate. More about that later, though. My preference is the Kong Dual Door Crate. They are nice & sturdy, breakdown easily for storage or transport, and the dual doors give me more options on where I can place it in the house.
Now that you’ve got the crate home, you need to find a place to put it. If you want your dog to love their space and choose to spend time in there, even if you’re home, you need to put it someplace where they can still be part of the family when they are in it. We chose to put them in the living room area with a good view of the sliding glass doors to the backyard. That makes it easier for potty training too. You also want to make sure that it’s an area that has good airflow and that you can protect them from the sun shining through a window and making it too hot. You can always use a crate cover to protect them from the sun, to add warmth in the winter and to make it seem more cave-like. Mufasa, my male Weim, has a crate cover. Ariana, my female Weim, will destroy anything that is lying against her crate, so we skipped a crate cover for her.
Choose Accessories for Your Dogs’ Crate!
Let’s talk crate beds. When you first bring a puppy home, you probably want to forego the bed until you get the potty training down. Once they are potty trained, I HIGHLY recommend a Kuranda crate bed. The Slimline is my favorite. You want to order one that is as close to the inner dimensions of the crate as possible. If there is an accident, you can pull it out of the crate, take it outside and hose it down. Extremely easy to clean. And very comfortable for your pup.
Your pup’s room is in place and furnished. It’s time for accessories! I go to Walmart or Target and stock up on the little rolled fleece blankets for $5. Wash them when you get home. Then, sleep with a couple of them for a few nights to let them get your scent before bringing your pup home. That lets your pup have your scent with them even when you’re not. I only leave what I call “crate-safe” toys with them. My personal favorites are the Nylabone Dental Dinosaur and the Tux by West Paw Design.
You can smear a little peanut butter on the dinosaur to encourage your pup to chew it. The Tux is great for filling with treats. You can even put yogurt & treats in it and freeze it for a great summer treat. It’s much easier to clean than a Kong, and you can just toss it in the dishwasher. Speaking of treats, make sure that you give your pup high-value treats for going to their crate. Check out our recent blog about the best toys for your pup!
Put On Some Background Noise
Sitting in silence isn’t the most enjoyable thing for humans, and your pups feel the same way! We leave a radio playing near our dogs’ crates. This provides noise to cover up “scary” outside noises that might frighten your pup. Plus, if you listen to music or TV a lot when you’re home, it’s sounds they are used to hearing. If you decide to leave a TV on instead of the radio, use some consideration on what channel you leave it on. I never leave Animal Planet or Nat Geo playing because they might have vet shows with animals crying out in pain.
You can play music for dogs from YouTube or your Alexa device. You can even subscribe to DogTv! “Home Alone” from Blackwing Farms is a spray of flower essences that helps them relax.
Keep the Introduction Slow and Steady
You’ve got your pup’s room in place and ready for them. It’s time to start introducing it in a non-scary way. Prepare yourself because your pup will cry, whimper and howl. It’s how it’s going to be. You’ll have to work your way past that. The best way to introduce the puppy to the crate is to put them in for short amounts of time while you’re still there. Put the pup in the crate with a treat and then read for 10 minutes…or load the dishwasher…catch up on Facebook. The trick is that you don’t want to let the puppy out until they are quiet.
As soon as they are quiet, go to the crate, let them out and take them straight outside to potty. While crate & potty training, a huge rule is to go straight outside to the designated potty area as soon as you let them out of the crate. Even in these short beginning sessions. Slowly work up to leaving them in for longer and longer. I also strongly recommend feeding your pup in the crate. Mine are still served meals in their crates. If you’re going to give your pup a really special treat, even if you’re going to let them just have it loose in the house, make them go to the crate for it.
- Never use a crate as punishment for bad behavior. A crate is supposed to be a special place for your dog. Don’t make them afraid of it.
- Puppies don’t have bladder control. Don’t leave a puppy in their room for more than four hours.
- Do not leave a pet in a crate for long periods of time without exercise.
- Always make the crate a warm, inviting place with toys & chews.
I hope that answered some of your questions, and I hope that your pup will love their “room.” if you have additional questions, please feel free to email me or visit our website. Check out our blog for more helpful pet parent information.