Qwerty LOVES his crate. When he is tired, he will put himself to bed. I get asked if we let Q sleep in the bed with us and the answer is, I would let him, but to be honest he wouldn’t want to, he likes HIS bed.
Crate training is probably one of the number 1 things I speak with new puppy parents about. Most people want to know how to go about doing it, especially with a young, energetic puppy that can get in to trouble. I am a huge advocate for crates/kennels!
Here is how I did it.
Qwerty’s crate was one of our first purchases when we made the leap to bring a dog home. I got a crate for his full grown size that included a divider so I could make it the size we needed as he grew. A crate for a potty training dog should only be big enough for them to turn around, any bigger and there are more chances for accidents. Personally I like the wire crates because they are easily collapsed for travel and they are sturdy, but you need to choose a crate that works best for you and your dog.
Make the crate inviting. We purchased a bed that was advertised as hardy (although I have a co-worker who’s dog was able to destroy the same bed so obviously not hardy for all dogs…) We also put some nyla-bones and toys that could not be easily chewed up in there. The crate is in our family room, so it is in a comfortable location where our family spends the majority of our time when we are home, but it is also downstairs away from the bed rooms. If you want your dog in the bed room, that is fine, but for the first few nights there is going to be a lot of crying and if you are going to make sure to do this right you need to be able to handle that. Our crate is also right next to the door where we let Qwerty out so there was little to no chances of an accident from crate to door. Every time Qwerty went in his kennel he got a reward, for us it was treats and “good boy”.
The first 3 nights were the worst, he cried and carried on for what seemed like forever. I set alarms for every 2 hours, when my alarm went off I would get up, go down stairs and take him outside to go potty. When he did his business, he went straight back in the kennel, with a treat. I also would not let him out of the kennel if he was crying. I would sit, just out of sight, and the second it was quiet I would let him out. Still to this day Qwerty does not get let out of his kennel unless he is quiet and calm.
We not only had Qwerty in his kennel at night, we also would give him “quiet time” during the day when we were home. We noticed that he would get very naughty when he was tired so he would get little breaks during the day in his kennel to nap and cool off. Also when we were doing things around the house and couldn’t watch him we would put him in his kennel. Again, every time he went in the kennel it was a positive thing. He always got a good treat for going in there and yet again we would not let him out until he was calm and quiet. This happened until he started to earn our trust, in both potty training and mischief making. He now only gets crated when we leave the house and meal times.
Some people recommend covering the kennel if your dog seems uncomfortable in it, for us, Qwerty chews anything that was hanging near or on his kennel that he could reach, so this was not an option for us, but some dogs do prefer to be in a more “cave like” kennel. If your dog prefers this you can also get a plastic sided kennel that is already a little more covered than a wire kennel.
Also try and slowly increase the time you have your dog in the kennel and ALWAYS try and end on a good note. Make the kennel their safe place. Just a few months ago, we had our daughter’s birthday party and I didn’t want Qwerty getting in the way of people getting their food and eating, so I put him in his kennel, right next to where every one was. He remained calm and quiet the whole time because he was used to being in his kennel when people were home (it does not happen very often any more now that he is older and more trustworthy). Our family was amazed that such a young, energetic dog could be ok with sitting in his kennel while people were around him eating. When the food was put away, he got a reward of going outside for some frisbee time.
Another recommendation is to feed your dog in the kennel. We tried this with Qwerty, but to be honest if there is food in his kennel he just tries to cover it with his blanket. But many dogs happily eat in their kennels and this makes the very positive association of meal time with the kennel, making it that much easier to get your dog to enjoy their time in there.
Overall you need to find what works for you and your dog, but for us crate training was the first training success we had and we are so grateful that Qwerty love his crate even a year later!