Guide to Crate Training
How To Crate Train your Pet
Crate Training Step 1: Acquaint your puppy with his new home
Simply start from early puppyhood and have your puppy sleep and rest in his home. Almost without trying he will train himself to seek security and comfort inside his little "dog room."
Encourage your puppy to go into his home on his own. If necessary, toss a little treat in the home. DON'T FORCE HIM! He may quickly back out or be shy, but that's normal. Just take it slowly. At first, don't close the door on him, let him go in and out on his own.
Once he is happy and unafraid of his new home, simply restrain him at the door with your hand. Make him stay in the home for a few minutes, then gradually increase the time and be sure to praise him!
Once he is comfortable with this, (probably a few hours or days of short training sessions) simply restrain him at the door; again praising him lavishly. Soon he will be secure in his home with the door closed. Slowly you can get further and further away from him, always praising his accepting behavior. Eventually, the pup will sit quietly and sleep in his home with the door closed.
Crate Training Step 2: Direct his elimination
Understand that little puppies need to "go" about every 2-4 hours. On a schedule, (such as after feeding, before bedtime, first thing in morning) let your puppy out, teach him the route to the door, praise him at the door and take him out to the part of the yard you want him to use. Very quickly, you are teaching him an elimination schedule that will stay with him for the rest of his life.
As your puppy gets older (4-6 months) you can gradually leave him in his home for longer periods of time because he can "hold it" longer. Soon he can be home in his home all day, if necessary, until someone arrives to let him out.
Some of the DO's and DON'Ts of Crate Training
...buy a MIDWEST Home large enough for your dog when he grows up. However, if the home is too big when your pup is small, he may eliminate in one corner, then go to another corner to sleep. MIDWEST Divider Panels are available to solve this problem.
...get your pup used to his new home gradually.
...provide soft, washable bedding in the home so that it is comfortable and warm. Make the inside of the home as cozy as you can. Keep it clean and free of fleas.
...supervise your pup anytime he is free in your home. Supervision is what allows you to direct behavior. Chewing, elimination, barking, and all other behaviors are all dependent on your direction. If allowed to be unsupervised, he will begin to direct his own behavior and schedule.
...leave your very young pup in his home all day. At 6 weeks, a pup can hold his bladder about 4 hours, by 8 weeks; 5 hours, by 12 weeks; 6 hours and by 5-6 months a pup should be able to "hold it" for an 8 hour work day.
...put "housebreaking pads" or newspaper in your pet's home. We are trying to take advantage of the pup's natural instinct NOT to go in his home.
...let your new pup roam through your house unsupervised. Keep an eye on him so that when he sniffs and circles (an indication he is about to go) you can quickly and gently guide him to the door and outside.
...force your new pup into the home for the first time. Plan on taking plenty of quality time with him the first few days to get him accustomed to his new surroundings.
...punish your pup by putting or forcing him into his home. Your pup's home should be his secure place, it should not be associated with punishment, fear, or anything negative.
For more information visit our blog on Why You Should Crate Train Your Pet.
Or you can click to return to the Dog Crates 101 Resources page.