If you’re wondering whether to crate train a puppy please know there’s no hard and fast rule. For some pups, it’s a good way to learn obedience. For others, it’s not a great fit.
Crate training can give your puppy their own safe space, or it can make them feel restricted and stressed. It really depends on you, your pup, and your puppy training ethos.
Here, we’re looking at some of the benefits. Before you make a final decision, check out part two where we look at some of the potential drawbacks of crate training a puppy.
What is crate training?
If you’re a parent or know any parents (of humans, that is), you’ve probably heard of the ‘time out’ concept. It’s a way of saying “OK, things are getting out of hand. Let’s stop, breathe, and take some time to sit quietly and calm down.”
Crate training is basically a time out for puppies, though a more positive type. It has other benefits too.
Puppies are seriously energetic. Having a place they associate with some downtime can be a huge benefit for behavioural and obedience training, as well as establishing territorial boundaries.
That’s not to say your puppy can’t have free run of the home and garden. But the crate is where they go for specific activities. Like calming down or refraining from being underfoot during an important home visit. It’s sort of the puppy equivalent of only using your bed for quiet time and sleeping, not working, so when you climb into it you’re ready for rest already due to the strong association formed.
Crate training can help a puppy’s development by creating an area for safe confinement. The key is remembering that the crate isn’t for punishment. It’s a safe space where your puppy can escape the world if they need to.
Think of it as a kids’ treehouse or secret den; a sanctuary only associated with happy feelings. So make sure it’s welcoming, with a lovely soft place to sleep and some favourite toys.
Why crate train a puppy?
Done correctly, crate training can help your puppy learn positive behaviours and help minimise any bumps in the road when it comes to behavioural problems and obedience.
For instance, travel. Although COVID-19 has probably halted your travel plans at some point over the last year, it’s likely you’ll need or want to take your puppy somewhere in future.
There’s also the fact that if you crate train a puppy properly, you can manage destructive behaviours. Big cheers for not needing to replace furniture and shoes after an excited puppy chews them.
And if you crate train your puppy, it can also be a useful tool in toilet training.
Four pros of crate training a puppy
Ready to find out some of the major benefits when it comes to whether you should crate train a puppy or not? To help you make an informed decision, here are some instances in which crate training can be really beneficial.
1. Travelling with pets is easier
Whether it’s a trip to the vet or a holiday (a crate is a necessity if you’re flying with pets), crate training means your pet will always have a safe and familiar setting. Travelling in a crate they’re accustomed to means they’ll be less stressed.
The crate is basically like bringing your pet’s bedroom with them on the trip, complete with plush bed and familiar smells. Talk about first class travel!
Plus, they’re less likely to try to escape and get lost because they’re safe, secure, and content. But if the worst happens, here are some tips on how to find your lost pet on a roadtrip. However, there’s no doubt good crate training will minimise the risk of this happening.
Find out more about travelling with pets before you book your next trip.
2. Crate training a puppy can prevent behavioural issues
There’s also unavoidable truth that puppies like testing out their teeth on, well, everything. Here’s our teething puppy survival guide to help get you through. And, if you crate train a puppy, you have an effective way to halt this behaviour.
Of course, this only works if your puppy enjoys their crate and sees it as a relaxing time out, not a punishment. So remember to play plenty of puppy games and keep them stimulated to help prevent destructive behaviour too.
3. If you crate train a puppy, they’ll always have a safe space
All dogs share the wolf as a common ancestor. And just like their ancestors, dogs feel safe and happy in a den. A crate is ultimately your dog’s den.
This means if they encounter a stressful situation, like a new pet coming home or lots of guests arriving, your puppy always has somewhere they can go to decompress. Make sure everyone knows that when your puppy is in his crate, it’s a no-go zone for humans. Sometimes puppies need their space too.
4. Toilet training is easier
Wondering how to toilet train a puppy? Once you’ve helped them identify the correct place to pee and poop, it normally happens quite quickly. Basically, once they’ve done their business they’re likely to follow the smell back to the same place and go there again.
Unfortunately, they’re likely to do this whether it’s the right or wrong place.
Because dogs naturally want to toilet away from their dens (the crate in this instance), you’re already starting off on the right foot. Keep water inside the crate, and take your puppy outside as soon as you open it. Now the crate is well on its way to becoming your best toilet-training ally!
For more tips to get potty training right, read our article on toilet training your puppy.
How long should a puppy crate training session be?
Puppies should only be in the crate for short periods. Never keep them in there longer than their bladder can cope. Position the crate in a central part of the home with the door open, and let your puppy go in and out on their own time initially.
Here’s a video to help get puppy used to their crate. As you progress, your growing puppy will start to spend more time there – when they’re not having fun playing, exploring, eating and toileting of course..
Below is a rough guide to how long you should crate train a puppy per day:
- 8 to 10 weeks of age = 30-60 minutes
- 11 to 14 weeks = 1-3 hours
- 15 weeks and above = 3 hours or more
But of course, be guided by your puppy’s development, personality, and your individual circumstances. If you’re not sure, chat to your vet.
And remember that dogs are social creatures. They need lots of love, attention, and engagement. A crate isn’t a substitute for this, so crate training only works when it’s paired with other good puppy-raising habits including plenty of socialisation, exercise, and attention.
Dog insurance, whether you crate train a puppy or not
Whether babies or adults, crate trained or not, dogs have a way of getting into tricky situations. Pet insurance can help lighten the load. It means you’re covered for hospitalisations, vet visits, medications and all kinds of other treatments, and even third party liability.
At the time of writing, we’re offering 8 weeks free puppy insurance for dogs aged 6-30 weeks, with $1,000 in cover. No excess payments, no lock-in contracts. Just a free, no-obligation offer. And for parents of older dogs, you’ll get one month free if you buy a dog insurance pawlicy online. Again, with no lock-in contracts.
What more could you ask for 😊 Get in early before any ‘pre-existing conditions’ start emerging, which won’t be covered!