Everyone likes having their own private room — it can be a comfortable and quiet place to get away from all the hubbub. That’s why dogs often sleep in small, enclosed spaces like under a table, desk, or blanket. It’s easy to recreate this feeling for your puppy. All you need is a crate.

Why Crate Training?

Using a crate draws on your puppy’s preference for small spaces. It’s not “jailing” him (and don’t use it as punishment). Instead, think of it more like a den for your pup — a small, enclosed space that offers him security.

Plus, if he’s trained correctly, he’ll spend time in the crate when you’re out of the house, which will set some boundaries as well as keep him from going potty on the carpet. Dogs don’t usually like to go in the same place they sleep.

Choosing a Crate

When choosing a crate size for your puppy, you'll want to consider the size your puppy will be when he becomes a fully grown dog. If the crate is too big for the puppy initially, an adjustable divider can help keep the space just right as your puppy grows. (Any bigger and he might use one end to relieve himself and the other end to sleep!) Make sure to use a pad or blanket to make the crate comfortable.

Practicing Training

Crate training isn’t hard. Follow these simple steps and your puppy will be crate trained in no time:

– Introduce your pup to the crate in a low-pressure situation, not when you’re about to leave. Toss in a treat or kibble and praise the puppy when he enters the crate. Keep the door open so he can move around and explore.

– Remove his collar before you put him in the crate. You don’t want him getting stuck on anything, especially if you have a metal crate.

– Put a treat in the crate and use a simple word like “kennel” to get him used to the command.

– For some positive association, try feeding your puppy in the crate.

– Slowly increase the time your puppy spends in the crate with the door closed. Start by closing it for only a few moments and then work your way up. Make sure to praise him while the door is closed.

– Don’t open the door if he starts to whine. That will only teach him that when he whines he gets out of the crate.

– The rule of thumb for determining the length of time your puppy can stay in the crate is one hour per month of age, plus one hour. So, if your puppy is 5 months old, he can stay in for 6 hours.

– No matter his age, do NOT leave him in his crate for more than 8 hours. It’s unfair to leave him in for that long without letting him exercise or relieve himself.

– Remember, the longer your pupppy is confined, the more exercise he’ll need. So never use it as a way to avoid spending time with your puppy.

With a little patience and care, your puppy will grow to love his new private room, and you’ll love helping him grow up safe, happy, and well trained.