Successful crate training can take a couple of days
or several weeks – it all depends on HOW it’s done. If your puppy is calm and relaxed it may only take a few days but if he’s stressed or anxious, he may
never accept his crate. Learn how to crate your puppy the right way!
So, you've decided to crate your puppy - congratulations!
It's one of the kindest things you can do for a young pup and despite what some people think, it isn't cruel.
You're simply providing him with the exact type of 'home' he'd be looking for in the wild - a safe, den-like hide to protect him from predators and bad weather.
To crate your puppy successfully, he'll need to feel safe and comfortable in and around his crate. If his experiences are positive and his training isn't rushed, he'll adopt (and love) his new home much more quickly.
To get the best out of this page, I recommend you read the essential rules of crating as it will help you to get the best results for you and your puppy.
When you've read that, come back here and follow the steps below.
Your fist step is to introduce your puppy to his cage and to entice him into it - quietly, calmly, and without any stress. Help your little boy to understand that good things will happen to him when he's in or around his crate.
You've already put a soft blanket inside, preferably one with the scent of his mother and siblings, so it's already smelling like 'home'.
Begin by sitting outside of the crate, with your puppy by your side, and do the following:
Crate training puppies needs a gentle hand if they're to get used to their cage quickly and without trauma; never
force your puppy to do anything he doesn't want to.
Remember, crate training should be fun!
Your next step will be accomplished when you're able to close the
door to the crate, with your puppy inside, and not have him react.
So, here goes:
You can now drop his reward for coming out of the crate when called. When crate training, it's always better to reward your puppy more for
going into his crate and less for coming out; help him to learn
that it's more fun to be inside the cage than out of it!
If you crate train your puppy using treats as a reward, don't forget to offset the treats against his food allowance, otherwise you may end up with an overweight puppy!
Overweight puppies grow up to be overweight dogs and that's not healthy!
Feeding your puppy in his crate is a good idea because it's another way of reinforcing that good things happen when he's in his crate - another positive experience for him!
To begin with, place his food bowl just outside the door and let him eat.
Move his bowl just inside the cage for his next meal, and gradually move it further inside each meal-time until it's in the back corner of his crate.
When he's inside eating, close the door gently behind him.
He may be engrossed in his meal, but it's possible he'll want to be let out immediately, in which case, open the door and let him come out, but leave his food bowl inside and then close the door again.
Don't praise your Cocker at this stage; just stay quiet.
If he's hungry and tries to get back into his crate, open the door and let him in.
If he doesn't seem to want to go back inside, leave the door open and leave him to it. If he's hungry, he'll eventually wander inside and eat...and when he does, quietly and gently close the door.
Open the door just as he's finishing his food.
Repeat the above crate training for each meal, but leave the door closed for longer each time.
Remove the food bowl, offer your Cocker some water, and then take him outside to his toilet area. Praise him if he does the business, and then reward him by playing with him for a little while.
During this phase, please be aware that not all puppies react in the same way or develop at the same pace and this step of the crate training may need to be attempted several times before your Cocker becomes comfortable with his crate door being closed.
Take your time and be patient!
It's now time to stop using treats to entice your puppy into his crate and begin using words instead; you're going to teach your puppy to enter on your command!
But you must only do this exercise when he's comfortable entering and leaving his crate, and not before.
First, choose your command word(s). I use, "into bed" for Max, but you can use whatever words you feel comfortable with.
You'll need to teach him this command and get him used to hearing it, and the way to do this is to say your chosen words just as he's going into his crate.
Timing is very important. Your puppy needs to be able to associate the act of going into his crate with your command words.
Practiced regularly, he'll soon learn that your command words (in our case, "into bed") mean that he's to go into his crate and he'll understand exactly what you want from him!
Once you believe he understands this new command, probably after a few practice sessions, you can try using it as a command, rather than waiting for him to enter and then saying the command words.
Practice the above lessons whenever you get the opportunity and your puppy will soon be going in and out of his crate on command!
I strongly recommend you help your puppy to get used to being locked inside his cage for short periods of time while you're at home, before leaving him on his own.
If he's locked in his crate but he can still see you he's more likely to feel settled. It will also help to stop him from associating being crated with being left on his own.
Your aim now is for him to get used to being locked in his crate when you're not around, but this must be done gradually.
Your puppy is in his crate and he's playing with his favorite toy - great! Now you can begin training:
Don't be tempted to rush this part. To
get it right, crate training should be done in small, gradual stages.
Give your little boy plenty of time to get used to his crate and you'll soon see that he'll
settle down quietly when you're not around.
The hardest part of having to crate train a puppy is leaving him on his own, but if he's comfortable and hasn't had any unpleasant or distressing experiences inside his cage, there shouldn't be any reason why you can't leave him locked in for a little while.
A few preparations first though:
If you need to go out for longer, you may want to ask someone to look in on him after an hour to let him out into the garden for his toilet, and to play with him for a short time.
If you need to go out to work, there are a couple of ways to make sure he's safe and happy.
For example, you may be able to come home at lunch time or, if that's not feasible, you could consider paying a dog sitter to look after him, hire a dog walker, or ask a neighbor to pop in and feed him and take him out into the garden a couple of times each day.
If left alone for too long, some puppies can develop what's known as 'separation anxiety' and can become quite stressed and anxious, which isn't a good state for your pet to be in. It can also lead to destructive behaviors and a dog with severe separation anxiety can trash a room in the blink of an eye!
This section assumes your pup has already been crate trained by the breeder and applies to your puppies' first night in his new home, inside his crate.
Exercise your Cocker in the evening, play games with him and let him play with his toys - wear him out!
Before you put your pup into his crate for the night, take him outside to his toilet area and encourage him to pee.
It's best if you don't give him anything to eat or drink after 7:00pm.
When you're sure his bladder is empty, bring him inside, put him in his crate, and leave him.
It's almost certain that he'll cry during his first night as his new home will be unfamiliar to him and he'll probably be missing his mother and his litter mates.
For his first night in his cage, you have two choices; put his crate in another room where you can't hear him crying or bring it into your bedroom where you can comfort him if he cries during the night.
Either is acceptable, but I'd recommend the latter for his first night. If you place the cage by your bed you should be able to reach out to reassure him if he wakes.
While you crate train your puppy, don't allow him out of it unless you're certain that he wants to pee. Take him outside to his toilet area and wait with him. If he pees, quietly praise him and bring him straight back to his crate; no playing and no fussing - your baby must learn that night-time is not for playing.
You may need to do this every 2 or 3 hours during the night for his first few weeks, but this will quickly improve as he's able to hold his bladder and bowels for longer.
At 3 months, a puppy can usually go all night without a bowel movement as long as he's been allowed out to relieve himself just before being put to bed, and isn't given any water for a couple of hours before bedtime.
Puppy crate training shouldn't be traumatizing; it shouldn't be a stressful or frightening experience otherwise your puppy may never accept his crate.
Please don't ever try to force him into his cage and try not to show disapproval or sound angry if he gets it wrong - keep the training light and make it fun!
Try throwing his favorite soft toy, a chew bone, or a few small treats inside his cage from time to time so that if he wanders in without being prompted, he'll get a pleasant surprise.
If all his experiences inside his crate are positive, he'll soon love his new little den.
When crate training your puppy there will probably be times when he cries or whines to be let out.
It's important that you don't pay any attention to him. If you do, your Cocker Spaniel will soon learn that crying is the way to get your attention and he'll do it all the more.
Wait until your puppy has stopped crying for at least 10 seconds before letting him out.
If he won't stop crying, try feeding him some treats through the bars of his crate; alternatively, you could try distracting him with a new toy.
Your aim is to stop him crying for 10 seconds so that you can let him out without him learning that crying opens doors!
Learn more about why you should ignore attention seeking behavior in dogs.
How long you leave your puppy locked in his crate depends on his age, and I don't recommend you leave him any longer than he can control his bladder and bowels.
His control will improve as he
gets older so please be patient.
As a general rule, the length of time your Cocker can be left during the day, is as follows:
Please note that these are guidelines only because all puppies are different and will develop at different rates. I recommend you use your own judgement when it comes to crating times for your pet.
If you're planning to leave an older puppy alone for most of the day, you might like to leave the door to the crate open to allow him a little more freedom, although you will first need to make sure the room is puppy-proof and that the floor is easily washed.
I appreciate that trying to crate train a puppy can sometimes be hard work , but with a little understanding and patience, it shouldn't be too long before you can leave him for up to 5 hours at a time.
But don't expect too much from your little boy too soon - he's only a baby.
I've covered puppy crate training and we've seen that with a little patience and perseverance anyone can quickly and easily crate train their puppy.
But what if you want to train an older dog to use a cage?
Well, it is possible, but crate
training an older dog may take a bit longer and may well prove a little more
difficult. If you'd like to learn how, simply follow these guidelines on crate training a dog.
If you're looking for another good reason to crate train your puppy - here it is - crate training can help with potty training! How good is that?
So if your pet isn't yet fully house-trained, a dog crate might just be the thing for you and your Cocker Spaniel! Just remember, all dog or puppy training, no matter what it is, takes time and patience - so take it slowly.
Crate training a puppy isn't cruel - dogs love small spaces and their crate is an ideal to make them feel safe and protected. Let's see how crating your puppy makes a good deal of sense effect - learn more.
Benefits of crating your puppy - If you're not convinced, why not take a look at the many benefits (for both you and your puppy) listed here.
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