Puppy Crate Training Part 1
Fun Ways to Crate Train a Puppy
Puppies are just furry babies that love to play — so what better way to crate train a Goldendoodle puppy than by playing a game? Not only will it make training easier, but it can be delightfully useful in teaching a puppy how to go to their crate and stay there without making a fuss.
This guide is designed to help you teach your puppy to appreciate their own safe and personal space — their crate! Most pups aren’t crazy about the idea of being confined at first, but with patience and commitment, you can turn your puppy’s crate into its very own clubhouse!
Preparing for Puppy Crate Training
Before getting started, let’s go over some basics that will make crate training easier on both you and your pup!
- Crate Size: No puppy wants to be stuck in a tiny crate where they can barely move around. You can save yourself the trouble of having to buy a bigger crate as your dog ages by simply buying a crate for their adult size when they’re a pup. If you want to limit the amount of space in the crate at any time, you can make a partition using a cardboard box and adjusting the crate interior size as the puppy grows. But keep in mind that if the crate size is too big, it may lead to more potty accidents inside. The ideal puppy crate size should give them plenty of room to stand, turn, and stretch out.
- Puppy Crate Training Do's:
- Just like training puppy tricks, crate training sessions should be short, fun and gentle on your puppy’s limited attention span.
- Let your puppy learn one game at a time over the course of several days.
- Train your puppy when you’re in a good mood and able to show enthusiasm. Puppies love good vibes!
- Leaving treats and feeding your puppy meals inside the crate is an important part of puppy crate training.
- Take your puppy to the bathroom outdoors before putting them in the crate.
- Leave the door open when first giving your puppy meals inside the crate.
- Put the crate somewhere the puppy won’t feel alone, such as in the living room or kitchen.
- Puppy Crate Training Don'ts:
- Don’t put your puppy in their crate as a punishment.
- Don’t push or force your puppy into the crate. Your puppy should always be willing to go in on their own or with the help of a treat or toy.
- For your puppy’s protection and to prevent choking, don’t leave any toys or objects that can break or be chewed to pieces inside of the crate.
- Don’t let anybody tease your puppy when he/she is inside of the crate (e.g., kids, visitors, etc.).
Game 1: We Love the Crate!
The reason you should never use the crate as a form of punishment is because your puppy needs to grow fond of their crate and feel safe and comfortable inside. To teach your puppy the wonderful qualities of their crate, start by leaving a few treats and toys inside the crate when they’re not around. When your puppy’s in the room, let them sniff around on their own until they discover some goodies waiting for them inside the crate.
When your puppy goes inside the crate to eat their treats, give them praise and leave the door open for the first few sessions. After several successful explorations inside the crate, you can start gently closing the door while they’re eating or playing and then opening it again to let them out.
While inside the crate, try to toss some treats to your puppy towards the back so they venture all the way inside. If your puppy seems reluctant to go all the way inside, avoid closing the door until they feel comfortable with exploring all four corners of their crate.
Game 2: Go to the Crate!
After your puppy starts getting comfortable with their crate and associates treats with crate time, you can begin sneaking in a command word along with some hand signals to teach your puppy to go inside. Make sure your puppy is watching your hand as you’re throwing a treat inside, and turn it into a handle signal (such as a finger pointing in the direction) as you release the treat. The idea is to make your puppy associate this hand signal with going into the crate (which it will do to get the treat that comes out of your hand!).
Now, right before you toss a treat, use a command word such as “crate” (or any word you want your puppy to understand as crate time) to teach your puppy that they’re about to go inside the crate when they hear that word. Continue giving your puppy treats while saying the command word and showing them the hand signal for crate. Over time, they will learn to associate this signal and command with going inside of the crate. Just don’t expect your puppy to respond to your hand or verbal commands immediately.
Game 3: Let's Stay in the Crate
In this game, you’ll focus on praising your puppy when they are sitting inside of the crate and waiting for a treat. After learning games 1 and 2, wait for your puppy to be sitting patiently inside of the crate and waiting for a treat. When you see your puppy sitting in the crate on their own, give them praise and call them out using a release word of your choosing (such as “okay!”).
Make sure to say the release word with enthusiasm and lots of praise. This will teach your puppy to wait inside of the crate until you give them permission to come out. Because the goal is to teach your puppy to stay inside the crate on their own, make sure to leave the door open while playing this game.
Game 4: Back and Forth
When your puppy gets good at playing game 3 and begins responding to the release word, call them out and toss another treat inside of the crate so they can re-enter. Then, call them out and do it again. Try doing this for a few minutes so that your puppy gets comfortable with going back in their crate and responding to the release word. If they get bored of playing, just wait until later and play again.
Game 5: Closing the Door
Once your puppy shows no hesitation when going to their crate and staying inside, you can begin closing the door for a brief moment and slowly increasing closed-door time as your puppy gets used to it.
Don’t close the door for longer than a few seconds at first to keep your puppy from feeling trapped. Once your puppy is okay with the idea, you can start closing the door and saying the release word at the same time you open the door to let them out (see game 3). When you see your puppy sitting patiently inside with the door closed, give them some gentle praise but don’t get too excited (you don’t want your puppy thinking it’s time to leave the crate already by making them too excited) and hand them a treat through the door to let them know you’re happy.
Sometimes a puppy may not like it when the door is closed and whine when you close it. For this reason, it’s important to take this step slowly and not keep the door closed for longer than a few seconds when you first begin to play. This will make it easier to reinforce good behavior later when your puppy has to learn that whining won’t get them out of the crate. You should never reinforce bad behavior by letting your puppy out the moment it starts to whine. If your puppy starts whining when the door is closed, ignore your puppy until it stops and then give it praise, a treat, and let it out as soon as it calms down.
Over time, you can begin closing the door and stepping away from the crate while your puppy is inside. If you see your puppy taking it well, say the release word, open the door and call your puppy out — followed by treats and lots of hugs!
Be sure to check out Puppy Crate Training Part 2 for more tips on how to crate train a Goldendoodle puppy!