Crate Training Puppies: Tips to Make the Transition Smoother

Napa has been easy to crate-train, thank goodness. The one thing our vet said to do, that would help us in the long term, is crate training. It’s really been a life-saver, because once he was used to, he’d go into a zen-like state every time we needed to put in him. He’s now like, “oh, ok cool, time for a nap.” Over time, he’s come to love it. Even when we let him sleep in the bed at night, he usually gets restless and spins  around in circles infront of his crate until we let him in to go to sleep. Funny dog.

Crate training your puppy can be one of the most stressful times, though. We had at least a week of restless nights. My first dog took even longer.. she was a stubborn bulldog, and it took weeks. My neighbors even came over to see what all the racket was about. We moved three times, and each time it was like starting over.

Napa’s not like that. He gets the crate thing. A crate here is a create there.

So you might have a different experience that us, but I haven’t heard too many crate training horror stories past the first week. Below are a list of tips to make your pup’s transition to the crate much smoother.

Before You Get Your Puppy

  • Save yourself some money by buying a crate that will fit him full-sized. But one with a partition so you can simply expand the area as he grows.
  • Buy a covering for your crate. It can be a fitted cover or just a blanket. You’ll want to make sure you puppy won’t be distracted while in their crate.
  • If this is your first day, when you go to pick up your pup from the breeder, bring an old t-shirt or towel with you. Our breeder taught us this. You’ll want to rub the shirt or towel on your puppies mom and any litter mates. You’ll be placing this towel or shirt in the crate with your puppy for the first week or two so they’ll still feel like they are at with their pack while they transition.
  • Choose a quiet place for the crate. Preferably not in a high traffic area and not in your bedroom. You want the space to be as serene as possible so that you’re not waking your pooch up right as they settle down.

Your Puppies First Crate Encounter

  • Place the litter mate scented t-shirt or towel in the crate before your puppy is introduced to their crate for the first time.
  • You puppy’s crate should be one of the first places you introduce your puppy to in your home. Have them walk up to it, sniff it, and inspect it.
  • If they don’t climb right in, gently place them in the crate. Watch to see what they do.
  • If they sit or lay down in the crate, let them stay there. Offer them calm encouragement and if you have puppy training treats, reward them.
  • If your puppy seems super comfortable in their crate you can try to shut the door slowly. You won’t want to lock it at this point because it could startle your comfortable pup.
  • If your puppy squirms out of the crate, don’t worry. Let them go. Keep calm and revisit the crate later.
  • You’ll want to keep introducing the puppy to the crate over and over again throughout the day.
  • Prepare for a couple sleepless nights in the beginning.
  • Be strong. Your puppy will cry and yelp but don’t breakdown and let them sleep in your bed. Don’t even do it when you think he’s officially crate trained, trust me.
  • Comfort your puppy in the crate.
  • Consider buying a Heartbeat Pillow (affiliate link) for your dog’s crate. It mimics the heart beat of dog to soothe and relax your pup. It worked wonders for Napa, he still carries it around!

Your puppy’s crate will be the safest place for them. Most puppies will take to their crate within 3-4 nights. Other may take up to 7 days. Keep calm and reward your puppy for excellent behavior. You’ll both do fine.

These were just some of the tips we have to crate training puppies. If you’ve used a technique or method to crate train your puppy let us know what’s worked for you in the comments.

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