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How to crate train your puppy

Consider the space your puppy's very own bedroom

When you’re exhausted or just want a little escape, you may consider your bed a haven. A crate should be to a puppy what a comfortable mattress and cozy comforter is to pet parents. Dogs are natural den animals, meaning they enjoy hunkering down in a quiet, private space. Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch's on-staff veterinarian, explains how to make a crate one of your puppy's favorite places. 

How to use a crate

It’s best to use a crate from the first day you welcome your pup home. A crate that’s too small may make your puppy feel more anxious — make sure they can fully stand up and easily turn around in it. Also, if it’s too big then they may go to the bathroom in it. When picking out the crate, try bringing your pup along so you can make sure it’s the perfect fit.

After choosing the right crate, there are a couple of things you can do to make it their favorite space: 

  • Have them stay in the crate while you’re home during bedtime and naptime so they can enjoy their space with the comfort of knowing you’re nearby. 
  • Gradually increase the amount of time they spend in the crate to get them used to it.
  • Use lots of praise and give them a treat immediately after they get into the crate (it’ll make them excited about crate time).  
  • Give them their favorite bone or toy to chew on while in the crate (only give this to them while they’re in the crate).

RELATED: New puppy checklist — everything you need to know about bringing your dog home

What not to do when crate training your puppy

Helping your pup adjust to the crate takes time. Don’t spoil your progress by doing these things: 

  • Keeping your pup in the crate for the majority of the day. A great trick to deciding the amount of hours young puppies can be in their crate is adding the age of the puppy in months plus one. No pet should be crated for more than a few hours. 
  • Use the crate as punishment — this should be their safe haven. 
  • Put the crate in a loud area like a laundry room. Remember, this is a retreat for them so it should be away from anything that could overstimulate them. 
  • If your pup already suffers from anxiety, crate training may not be the best option. Ask your behavioral therapist beforehand for the best solution as they can injure themselves trying to get out. 

When to crate train your puppy

You should start crate training as soon as you welcome your pup home. Show them that this is their designated safe space as soon as possible. If they suffer from separation anxiety, talk to their behavioral therapist or vet to decide if crate training could help keep them safe while you’re away. 

Potty training

Crates help with potty training puppies as your dog most likely won’t go to the bathroom in their own space. If you’re using a crate to potty train, be sure to frequently let them use the bathroom.

Crates are meant to help your pet feel comfortable. With the help of these quick tips, your best friend will live their best life in and out of the crate. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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