This is one of the training areas that is mostly a case of “owner training.” Puppies can whine LOUD and at length so many owners find it difficult to be consistent and firm with crate training. The good news is if you welcome a JLDD puppy, we have already done some of the hard work with crate training for you. We gradually expose our puppies to crates beginning at 3 weeks of age.
Please note that early introduction to crate training is critical. Finding a puppy breeder who exposes the dog to crates and alone time before they go home definitely puts your pup one step ahead. If, however, you are starting at square one, not to worry- you will just want to start off gradually.
On day one, you may simply want to feed your pup in the crate and initially let him sniff the place out without even closing the door. Once he is familiar with the crate, you can start closing him for short periods of time and always reward him with treats upon entering the crate.
At the beginning, make sure your pup can still see you - this helps your doodle relax and settle sooner. On this note, we have found most puppies adapt more quickly to sleeping through the night in their crate if they are in the same room as a human.
Still, you can expect the first few nights to be quite difficult. This is likely your puppy’s first night away from the warmth and comfort of his littermates, so be prepared for some protesting!
The first few days can be extremely difficult, but your consistency will pay off. Many owners find it difficult to be consistent because of their worry that their dog is miserable with crate training and, true enough, the puppies can sound really pitiful in there. But stay strong and remember that you are actually helping them in the long run for the times that they must be left alone when you go out.
Keeping your puppy in a kennel while you are gone not only keeps them safe, but when utilized correctly, the crate actually feels like a safe, cozy place to your pup and will help keep him calm and rest when he must be left alone.
Being fed in their crate, having special “crate only” toys such as special chew toys and peanut-butter filled kongs will help pups develop a positive association with their crate. “Busy toys” such as puzzle, games and long-lasting chews often help dogs settle in their crates quickly.
Keeping a routine is key so your pup knows what to expect. Make sure you are giving your pup plenty of exercise and play time when he/she is out of the crate. If you have your pup on a good exercise/play/sleep schedule then he/she will be tired and ready to nap when it’s time to go in the crate which will help him settle sooner.
Allow pup to settle for about five minutes before you let him or her out. It may take a while, but it is important to only let your pup out when he/she is quiet so that he does not associate barking or whining with getting let out.
The only time this does not apply is in the middle of the night. Most 8-week old pups will wake up after 4-6 hours needing a potty break - so in this case you will want to respond to your pup’s alert and carry your pup outside to let him relieve himself.
You will know you have mastered this important aspect to training when your pup voluntarily enters his crate to rest or nap without even being instructed to do so! A well crate trained pup makes grooming, boarding, and traveling much easier for you and your pup.
Jenna and the JLDD Team