Crate training your puppy is the best way to keep your puppy safe and out of trouble when you are unable watch them! Just like you would ensure an infant was in a safe place such as a crib or playpen before you do other chores or take care of your own needs, you should crate your puppy anytime you cannot be immediately supervising them. It is okay to crate your puppy while you are home so that you can do chores, care for your family or just take a break!
Some people prefer to have two crates available for their puppy, one in the bedroom and one in the main area of the house. At night, many puppies will feel more secure if they are near you and can hear you breathing. The bedroom crate also makes a good place for a puppy if there is too much activity going on in the main area of the house. The crate in the main area can serve as a good place for your puppy to retreat to during the day to take naps or chew on a favorite toy.
Puppies that are still learning to be house trained should have a crate just large enough for them to turn around and lay down in. This helps keep the puppy from activity, and discourages the puppy from having accidents in the crate. Puppies do want to be clean and are less likely to soil a space they cannot leave. If you want to purchase a crate to fit your puppy’s adult size, you can “shrink” the crate by using a firm cardboard box or specially made crate divider.
If your puppy will not be quiet in the crate, or needs to be crated for a longer period of time, give them something to keep them preoccupied such as a favorite toy, bone, chew, or Kong toy. Kongs and other similar products can be filled with tasty treats, peanut butter, or cheese whiz and frozen to prolong the fun!
Make the crate a happy place for your puppy, give lots of treats and toys when first introducing your puppy to their crate. Some people even feed their pet’s meals in their crate. You want your puppy to feel safe in their crate so never use the crate as punishment!
More mature puppies that have no experience with crates may take a little longer to become comfortable in their crate. Toss in treats or toys, leaving the door open and let the puppy explore their new crate on their own. Never force a fearful puppy into a crate as this can increase their anxiety and make them more averse to their crate. Give them plenty of time in the crate with the door open before you close the door. Remain close, give treats and words of encouragement, and after a few minutes open the door. You may have to repeat this process a few times before your pup is completely comfortable in the crate.
Read the article In Praise of Crates for some great suggestions about choosing the proper crate and the process of crate training