Crate training, done properly, is [an] effective management system that can be a lifesaver for dog owners. Like any training method, crating can be abused, but using a crate for appropriate time periods is helpful with a variety of important goals, including house training, preventing destructive behavior, and teaching a dog to settle and relax.
If a dog is taught through positive reinforcement to love the crate, the crate becomes his own private and safe place, much like a bedroom for a child. The crate or kennel is somewhere the dog can go and not be bothered; it's a perfect destination when the dog is tired or nervous. Dogs have a natural instinct to be in a den. Many dogs take to a crate very easily.
Crate training provides a number of benefits to owners. A crate that is sized properly (read more about size below) encourages a dog's instinct not to mess where he sleeps, helping to teach the dog bladder and bowel control. This tendency to view the crate as a clean place is a huge benefit house training a new rescue dog or puppy, of course!
Using a crate prevents a dog or pup from getting into trouble when you can't supervise directly. Those times might include at night, when you are at work (provided the work day is not too long and the dog gets exercise before and after), when you are busy cooking, or any other time when your attention is elsewhere than directly on your dog.
Crate training also teaches puppies and excitable dogs to expect and enjoy some down time, and conditions relaxed behavior. Dogs and pups can be put into a crate with a yummy and safe chew or stuffed Kong to keep them secure, relaxed, and out of mischief for periods of time.
Puppy Care Questions & Answers
How do I crate train my puppy?
Puppies from Acadia Goldendoodles have been exposed to a variety of crates starting at 5 weeks of age. They have had access to them, been fed inside them, slept in them with their littermates, and had several individual training sessions aimed at settling down in the crate with the door closed. Puppies learn at different rates, so your puppy may already feel comfortable in a crate with the door closed, or there may still be some work to do.
For detailed instructions about this, I love Susan Garrett's "Crate Games." She has a nice introduction to it on YouTube. There is also a quick explanation of one way to crate train in Sarah Fulcher's article, "To Crate or not to Crate?" on Karen Pryor's "Clicker Training" blog site.
Should my puppy have a chew toy or Kong in her crate?
It's always a good idea to give your puppy something to do quietly in the crate. I saw this video on YouTube about using Kong-type toys for this. Check it out - maybe you will like it too:
Where should I place the crate at night?
I always start out with the crate in my bedroom. After settling the puppy into the crate, I leave some of my cloths nearby so the puppy can smell me. That way s/he knows I am nearby at night. If necessary, the crate can be placed next to the sofa in the family room and a family member can sleep on the sofa. After a few days (or weeks) I gradually move the dog to the new location in the house, by having some part of the day spent there. However, you want to be sure it is located where you can hear the puppy if it needs to go out.
Should I crate train my puppy?
Yes, you should. In my opinion, crate training and positive dog training are the best things that have happened to the "dog world" in my lifetime. A close second is the success of the spay and neuter campaigns being run over the last 30+ years. The following is an excerpt from Sarah Fulcher's article, "To Crate or not to Crate?" on Karen Pryor's "Clicker Training" blog site: