Puppy Crate Training Part 2
More Fun Ways to Crate Train a Puppy
In Puppy Crate Training Part 1, we learned 5 fun games to play with your pup to teach them about the wonderful benefits of being in their crate (and how much you appreciate their cooperation!).
By now, you should:
- Be able to get your puppy into the crate without much work
- Have a command word and hand signal for sending your pup to the crate
- Have a release word for letting them out of the crate
And your puppy should:
- Be able to enter the crate without hesitation
- Be okay with being inside of the crate
- Come out of the crate with the release word
- Be okay if the crate door is closed for short periods of time
In this article, we’re going to build on the first 5 games with some additional games that teach your Goldendoodle puppy to better understand your commands along with some puppy crate manners. As your dog grows, you’ll want them to be accustomed to spending plenty of time in their crate (like when you’re sleeping or away) and be able to go to their crate and come out on command. With your patience and persistence, your pup will learn that the crate is its very own comfort zone and they’re always safe and comfortable while inside. Over time, you should see your puppy hanging out or sleeping in the crate all on their own!
Game 6: Go to the Crate on Command
Now that your puppy knows how to follow its nose into the crate for a treat and has made themselves at home there, let’s try putting that command word and hand signal to the test. With your puppy near the crate, say the crate command (such as “crate”) but don’t toss any treats, yet. If your puppy goes in the crate, act very happy and drop treats inside the crate while giving them pets.
If your puppy doesn’t respond to the crate command, go back to Game 2. Once your puppy starts responding to the crate command and going inside without a treat, make sure to practice this game over and over until it really sticks. You’re making great progress!
Now, try the same thing with the crate hand signal (such as pointing in the direction of the crate), but this time without treats. When your puppy follows your hand motion towards the crate, drop lots of treats inside and give them lots of praise. Just like with the verbal command, capitalize on any progress and make sure to play this game over and over when they get it.
Game 7: It’s Chow Time!
This will be one of your puppy’s favorite crate games and it can be played anytime during crate training — just put their meal inside the crate! Depending on which stage of crate training you’ve reached, you can leave the door open at first but gradually begin to close the door while your puppy is munching away inside the crate. When you close the door, be sure to stand nearby as they’re eating so you can open the door before they’re done eating. This will let your puppy know that mealtime is just mealtime — and NOT a trick to get them inside the crate!
Game 8: Bolting Bad!
If you’ve ever come home to an excited dog, you know just how easy it is to get tripped up and lost in that furry blur of happiness. Now take all of that pent-up excitement, put it in a crate and let it all out at once — and you’ve got a bolting puppy!
An important part of crate training a dog is teaching them not to bolt out when that door opens — not only for their own safety, but for everyone else’s too! Crate-bolting puppies can make your heart skip a beat when traveling, getting out of the car, going to the vet, or having small children in the house and around the puppy crate. With a little bit of work, you can teach your puppy to exit their crate without running everybody over in the process.
Now that your puppy has gotten used to the crate door being closed, you can teach them the correct way to exit when it opens. Start by getting your puppy inside the crate with the door closed. Open the door, and if your puppy tries to get out right away, close it again. Wait for your puppy to settle down and then try to open it again, and close it again when the puppy automatically tries to leave.
Repeat this exercise until your puppy remains still when you’ve opened the door. When they do, reach in and give them a treat and some happy praise. Now, leave the door open, and if your puppy tries to leave, close it again. Every time your puppy stays still after you’ve opened the door, reward them. After a few successful repetitions, say the release word (see Game 3) to call your puppy out of the crate as they are patiently waiting with the door open. When that works, keep playing until your puppy understands you will close the door if it tries to exit without the release word.
As with all other puppy crate training games, play this game in short sessions (about 10 minutes at a time) on a regular basis to keep your puppy engaged and their memory focused.
Game 9: Rest and Relaxation
The purpose of this game is to show your puppy that relaxing and sleeping in the crate is a “good” thing. If you’ve already taught your puppy how to lie down, it can really come in handy when teaching your puppy how to relax in their crate. Start by getting your puppy in the crate and tell them to lie down (or wait for them to lie down if you haven’t taught the command yet).
When your puppy is lying down, give them some calm praise and a treat. It’s important not to make your puppy too excited or stand up. You want your puppy to make a connection between being relaxed and being rewarded, so praise the little things like lying down, yawning, stretching out and rolling on the side with a gentle pet, a “good dog” and a treat. When your puppy is relaxing in their crate, stick around for a little while and then call them out with the release word. If it works, you’re really getting somewhere!
Game 10: Can I Come Out Yet?
This is a fun little game to play with your puppy to teach them the boundaries of their crate and to stay seated or lying down until released. As a follow-up to games 8 & 9, we’ll be using a conditioning method that gives you insight into your puppy’s intelligence and how quickly they learn — and it’s very simple!
If you’ve already taught your puppy how to sit or lie down, great! You can use these commands to help you play this game, or you can also wait for your puppy to lie down or sit on its own. Once your puppy is in the crate, close the door and have them sit or lie down inside. Now, start slowly moving your hand towards the door latch as if you’re about to open it. If your puppy gets up, remove your hand and stand up.
Now, tell your puppy to lie down or sit (or wait for them to do it), and then put your hand slowly back on the door latch. If the puppy doesn’t move, give them a treat through the crate along with some calm praise. Repeat this until your puppy stops getting up when you put your hand on the door latch.
When it works, slowly open the door. If your puppy gets up, close the door, remove your hand, and repeat until your puppy stays down as you open the door. Once your puppy stays down even as you’re opening the door, call them out and make them feel like a special dog.
As with all other puppy crate training games, don’t expect your puppy to get this on the very first try. It may take days—or even weeks!—of practice until your puppy is responding to all of your commands and is remaining still until being released from the crate. Short and consistent training sessions are the trick to success. Puppies will be puppies, and your patience and persistence will be rewarded!
Puppy Crate Training Key Takeaways
Puppy crates are an essential tool for raising an obedient pet as well as making the dog owner’s life easier. Good crate manners mean less unpleasant surprises at home, simplified pet travel and invaluable pet safety. Just like people, animals also like their own personal space where they can feel safe, comfortable and at ease. Eventually, all puppies can learn to love their crates — you just need to teach them about its value!
Probably the most important thing to remember when crate training your puppy—besides being patient!—is to never force your puppy into their crate or use it as a form of punishment. The last thing you want your puppy to feel is an aversion towards their crate, as this will teach them to avoid it and make it harder to trust you when the crate can really come in handy. When you have a fully-grown adult dog with excellent crate manners, it also extends to their personality traits and will make you the proud owner of an obedient, intelligent and well-behaved dog.