Meet Bruin, an 11-week-old golden doodle puppy.
He lives with Mathew and Nancy, and his young human siblings Daniel and Susan. Bruin, like the kids, is full of playful energy! Bruin is a young puppy who is still learning the ropes, in the crate, he cries and demands attention, and needs to learn how to be quiet and relaxed when left alone.
The crate is an important training tool for almost every dog, but especially for families with young children. Having your dog learn to tolerate the crate is sometimes necessary when parents need to focus on children, homework, or making dinner. Crate training is important for any owner for trips to the vet, traveling, boarding, etc.
If done correctly, most dogs can learn to love their crate or pass time in the crate when needed. Bruin, like all dogs, needs to learn that the crate is a positive environment, a place where they can relax and settle down.
Help your puppy learn that only by being quiet and relaxed they will get what they want. Daily practice is the key in teaching your dog that the crate is a safe comfortable place to be, and that it is okay to be alone.
We recommended practicing 10 crate sessions a day, for anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes. Teach your puppy to be calm in the crate, while you are home!
Start by placing 3-4 treats in the back of the crate. Do not call your dog to you, instead walk to your dog, say “Kennel Up” or “Get In”and use your dog’s collar to gently walk your dog into the crate. Any time between 2 minutes and 20 minutes later, come back and open the crate. Ideally, only after your puppy has quieted down should you let them out.*
At first, make practice sessions easy by staying in the room near your puppy, just sitting quietly in the room near your puppy as a first step. Once they are comfortable, try walking around the room and then walking out of the room and coming back in — all while ignoring your dog. This means no talking, soothing, responding too or looking at your dog during the exercises, especially if they whine and bark at you.
Work up until you can walk away from the crate and go into the other room, go to the bathroom, or do something in the other room you ignore your puppy.
When you open the crate, do not reward them or make a big fuss. You are teaching them that going in and out of there is part of their regular life. Ideally, your puppy becomes accustom to going in and finding treats in the back of the crate and learns to relax knowing that eventually, someone always comes to get them out.
What NOT to do
*It is very important to not give in to his cries, and only release him when he is quiet. Your dog needs to learn that the barking/cries does not pay off and it does not get them what they want. However, if you have to let a whining puppy out of the crate, try to wait for a lull of 5-10 seconds before releasing them.
Remember, do not put him in the crate as punishment for a bad behavior. Your dog needs to learn that the crate is a safe, positive place where he gets treats, is left alone for reasonable amounts of time and learns to be calm and patient.
Excessive Crying/Howling/Whining is expected! If after 10 training sessions your dog is not learning to calm down in the crate, but seems to be getting more worked up, or even panicked, your puppy maybe showing signs of actual Separation Anxiety. If that is the case, please contact a trainer, or check out one of our Crate Training eBooks to make sure you are doing everything right.
By waiting patiently in the crate to be released, Bruin quickly learned that there is no reason for panic or barking. Matthew and Nancy are now able to leave Bruin for periods of time while they are away from the house, and they can sleep through the night knowing he’s comfortable in the crate.
To learn more about training for your young puppy, and other solutions for crate training, check out Zen Dog Training Online.