Crate training is an important part of bringing home a new puppy. The goal of crate training is to be able to leave your dog in the crate for 3-4 hours unattended and not have to worry about them using the crate as a bathroom. In order to successfully crate train your puppy, it’s crucial to understand how dogs learn correct behaviors.
Dogs learn how to behave from conditioning. This just means that when a dog does something, you can give them feedback and get them to connect the behavior to the feedback. If they do something good, you give them good feedback. When they do something bad, you give them negative feedback. The key here is to ensure two things happen. First, the dog has to understand which behavior the feedback is attached to. Second, you need to make sure that the most direct way for the dog to ‘fix’ bad behavior is actually what you want. For example, if they jump on the table and then you put them outside, they’ll just jump on the table whenever they want to go out. Conditioning forms the basis for essentially all types of dog training.
Now, how do we use this information to crate train our puppy? The first step is to make your puppy feel safe and comfortable inside the crate. Make it clear that being in the crate isn’t a punishment or penalty. We do this by keeping the crate in a central location in the house, so even inside the crate your puppy can see and hear people. The kitchen or living room is a good place. When you’re finding a place to put the crate, ensure your puppy can see as much of the room as possible. You want to select a crate that is large enough your puppy can stand and stretch. Ensure they have enough room to be comfortable, but not so much room that they can use one end of the crate as a bathroom and sleep at the other end.
Now we need to get our puppy used to being in the crate. Set a schedule. For a young puppy, start with an hour or so inside the crate. If they’re quiet and well-behaved, take them out of the crate and praise them. It’s important to really go over the top when using positive feedback, so your puppy will make the connection. A good basic schedule is to feed them, wait 10-15 minutes, take them outside to go potty, then put them in the crate for an hour. After that hour is up, take them outside again and spend some time playing with them. As your puppy gets a little older, gradually increase the lengths of time they spend in the crate. You can also bring the crate into your bedroom at night. This will help keep your puppy calm and also let them get used to your sleeping patterns.
Remember: consistent feedback will make it very easy to crate train your puppy. It’s much easier to get results by encouraging good behavior than it is by trying to discourage every negative behavior.
Learn how to crate train a puppy at http://mightydogtraining.com.