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In theory crate training puppies sounds simple. A quick note: I often use the term crate and kennel interchangeably throughout this article.
Crate Training Theory: Your puppy does not want to poop or pee in the place he sleeps…put him in his crate (make sure it’s not too big or he’ll pee/poop on one side and sleep on the other) and he won’t poop or pee (unless he really has to). I wrote this article on How To Crate Train Your Puppy In 5 Easy Steps. Of course it’s not always easy to crate train your puppy.
Not long ago I received an email asking me for hints on how to get a new puppy from crying, howling, barking in his kennel during the night. I’ve actually received many emails asking me for similar advice.
Today, I compiled a list of all the tricks and hints I’ve tried with my puppies or heard have worked with other puppies. If you’re a regular reader on my blog then you’ll know that two out of my last three puppies did not enjoy the kennel and barked, howled, and cried throughout the night during their early days. If this is your first night at home with your puppy you also might want to take a look at this article: how to handle your puppies first night at home.
Crate Training Puppies – 14 Useful Tips
Every puppy is different. Some have no problems with their kennel while others (as you know) have a difficult time adjusting to the kennel. To answer your questions: yes, you do need to just leave him in the kennel and yes, expect to be woken up 3-4 times a night during the first week or two. Try to do your best to stick with your puppy and be consistent with his training. Every time you take him out of the kennel and reward him for whining by letting him sleep on the bed he’s learning that whining will get him what he wants.
Puppies are difficult to raise. It definitely takes a commitment. It can take a couple days for him to get used to the crate all the way up to a couple months.
Here are some suggestions you can try that might help you:
- If he’s crying you should try taking him out to see if he has to go potty. After you take him out bring him straight back to the crate.
- Cut off his water and food at least an hour and half before bed time. That way he won’t wake up as many times in the middle of the night.
- Try playing with him a lot before bedtime to tire him out.
- If it’s a wire crate try enclosing it by putting a sheet over it.
- If the crate’s not near your bed try putting it near your bed where he can see you.
- Try sleeping on the floor next to the crate.
- Feed him all his meals in his crate.
- Put some snuggly toys in the crate to keep him company.
- During the day when he takes a nap move him to the crate. You can try this with the door open or closed.
- Try leaving the door open but lying down across the doorway of the crate as if to nap with him, to make him feel more comfortable in the crate, and at the same time make my body block the doorway.
- If he’s in the crate and he’s not crying give him lots of praise.
- Try the heart beat toy. I’ve heard of a toy that simulates the mom’s heartbeat that helps the puppy sleep. Try this toy: Petstages Heartbeat Pillow
- Try the heated toy. I’ve also heard of a toy that has a thing on the inside that you can warm on the inside and insert in the toy. Makes the puppy feel like he’s with one of his litter mates. Try this toy: Pet Stages Warming Soother
- The one that worked for me and Stetson – I was a wreck and I thought Stetson would never get used to his crate. The only way I was able to get him to sleep was to talk to him for 5-10 minutes, telling him what a “good boy” he was when he wasn’t crying (if he did cry I would just keep silent tell he stopped). To try and quiet him down I’d either say “quiet” or “Shhh”.
By the way, if you leave anything in the crate with your puppy make sure he doesn’t start eating or chewing on anything that may be harmful to him.
Try to be consistent with your puppy. Try not to take him out of the crate unless he stops whining even if just for an instant.
One last tip: If you’re lucky enough to pick your puppy out of a litter be sure and bring a plush toy with you and rub it all over his litter mates. Then when you get home and it’s time for bed put the toy in the crate with your puppy. The scent of the litter will make him feel more at home and give him the feeling that he’s sleeping with one of his litter mates.
Best of luck with your puppy. Let me know if any of the above suggestions work for you.
What do you do when crate training puppies?