Dogs are den animals and actually prefer sleeping in small spaces. The cost of a crate/kennel might initially seem expensive, but when you compare it to the cost of ruined rugs and/or chewed up furniture, it is well worth it!
When you bring your puppy home, it is best to begin using the crate right away. There are many different crates, and we have given you a link to the ones we prefer in the email that was sent last week. The kennel needs to be big enough for them to walk into, turn around and lay down. You should, however, refrain from giving your puppy a large kennel in the beginning. This is because if the space is too big, they will sleep on one side and go potty on the other side, sometimes creating a large mess by the morning. As they get bigger/older, you can get them a bigger crate. Some crates come with a divider, so you can make their space larger as they grow.
Kennel training can make potty training easier, gives you and your puppy a few breaks throughout the day and helps keep your puppy safe when you can’t watch them.
We suggest putting a plastic bin on the top of the crate, so you can keep their toys and some treats close by. You can give them treats for going into the kennel, and toys to play with while they are inside. Toys like Kongs, Busy Bones, Nylabones, etc are all great options. Bones with the marrow can keep puppies occupied for hours. Puppies will enjoy going into their kennel to see what special surprise you have for them!
Even though we exposed the puppies to the crate early on (they have been sleeping in their crate for the last few weeks), they have free reign in and out of it. When you get home, you will be closing the door and this might cause some protest. This is where tough love comes into play – you will need to ignore the whimpering and crying until they get used to it. If you give them attention or let them out when they are whimpering/crying, it will teach them that crying will get them out! If you console them, you are teaching them that they are correct in their feelings of disdain. You cannot enable this behavior if you do not want it to persist into the future. Both behaviors from you will make this process very difficult.
Try to get the pup to enter the kennel on their own by luring them with one of those special bones or toys. Use the word “kennel” or “bed” when they walk inside. Once they are in there and happy, quietly close the door. Using the word “kennel” or “bed” as they walk in will help them to start relating that word with the action of walking into the kennel. This can later be used to tell them to go to their kennel, which is very useful in the future.
- Start off for short amounts of time of the door being closed and work up to longer times.
- When they are not in the kennel, we suggest leaving the door open, so they can go in when they want to.
- Make sure that you’ve given them food, water, exercise and that they’ve gone potty before having them go into the kennel.
- We suggest giving them a bone with marrow or a frozen Kong filled with something tasty, so they are occupied and happy to be in there.
- Sometimes it may be helpful to have a blanket to put over the outside of the kennel. Making it warmer and darker could help the puppy calm down, or not be energized by what’s happening around them. I had one puppy who didn’t like the draft from the A/C, so as soon as the blanket was put on the crate, they promptly fell asleep. Making it cozy, like a den, could help a lot.