Guide To Crate Training A German Shepherd Puppy

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One of the most rewarding aspects of owning a German Shepherd puppy is watching them grow and learn. As you introduce your pup to the basics of obedience, it’s important to also begin crate training. This will help create a foundation of obedience and discipline that will serve your dog well throughout their life.

In this guide, we will walk you through the basics of crate training your German shepherd puppy. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your puppy has a positive experience with crate training and will be happy and comfortable in their crate.

What Is Crate Training?

What Is Crate Training

Crate training is the process of teaching your dog to accept and enjoy spending time in a kennel or crate. It is usually started when a puppy is young and can be used as a tool to housebreak them, as well as to provide a place for them to retreat to when they need a time out from their family.

The idea is that by providing your dog with a comfortable and safe place to rest, you can help them learn to relax and feel secure in their surroundings. This way, they will be less likely to get into trouble when they are left alone and will be more likely to follow your commands.

Benefits of Crate Training Your German Shepherd Pup

So, why is crate training such an important part of raising a German Shepherd pup? There are several key benefits:

Housebreaking

Housebreaking german shepherd

One of the most important reasons to crate train your German shepherd puppy is because it helps with house training. Dogs do not like to soil their sleeping areas, so by placing your pup in the crate when you’re not able to supervise them, you can help teach them to “hold it” until they are given bathroom breaks. Over time, they will learn that they should only “go” in their designated potty spot, whether that’s a puppy pee pad, the lawn, or outside.

Of course, you should never leave your pup in the crate for extended periods of time. You want to make this an encouraging, positive experience for them, and you want to set them up for success and not create any bad habits. If you keep your pup in the crate for too long, they may start to soil their crate out of desperation and this will only create more bathroom accidents down the road.

The best approach is to crate your pup for short periods of time (1-2 hours) and gradually increase the amount of time they spend in the crate as they get older and better housebroken.

Obedience Training

Obedience Training german shepherd

In addition to housebreaking, crate training can also be a valuable tool for obedience training. Of course, this will only be beneficial if you start crate training your pup while they are still young. By teaching them to be comfortable in their crate, you are setting the stage for successful obedience training down the road.

When your German shepherd views the crate as a safe, positive space, they will be more likely to respond well to commands and cues when outside of the crate. Think about it this way – if your pup is hesitant to enter the crate, they will likely also be hesitant to follow your commands. But, if they are comfortable and happy in their crate, they will be more likely to trust and obey you when asked to do something.

This can be especially helpful when it comes time to train your pup not to jump on people, chew on furniture, or beg for food at the dinner table. Once your pup gets into the habit of trusting and obeying you in the crate, it will be much easier to train them in other areas of their life, too.

Protection

Protection german shepherd

One of the biggest benefits of crate training is the fact that it offers your German shepherd pup a sense of security and safety. By being in the crate, your pup knows that they are safe and protected from harm. This can be especially helpful if you have a busy family with lots of people coming and going, or if you is constantly exposed to crowds of people.

Even if your furry best friend loves throwing himself into the thick of family life, it’s still important to give him a place where he can retreat and feel safe. Crate training teaches your pup that a crate is a place where he can feel calm and safe, which can be helpful in stressful or overwhelming situations. You never know when you might need your pup to take a break from the excitement, and having a designated “safe space” can be crucial in these situations.

Although you don’t want to leave your pup in the crate for too long, it’s still important to put them in there from time to time for their own safety and well-being. Your pup will love knowing that they have a place to go where they feel safe and happy – and you’ll love knowing that your pup is comfortable and well-behaved in any situation.

Transportation

German shepherd

Dogs are man’s best friend, and that means they often go where we go. But, not all dogs are comfortable with being in a car, and that can lead to a lot of stress for both you and your pup. By crate training your German shepherd pup, you can help them feel more comfortable in the car and less likely to get carsick. This is because successful crate training leads to your pup viewing his crate as a safe space that he can relax in.

If your pup is comfortable and content in his crate, he will be less likely to get carsick or experience other forms of motion sickness. Rather than panic, he will be able to relax and maybe even take a nap. This can be a lifesaver on long road trips or during times when you have to travel with your pup. Things like motion sickness and car accidents can be scary for dogs, and crate training can help to minimize these risks.

Also, if you intend to bring your pet on international trips, you will need to make sure that he is crate trained. Many airlines require that all pets be placed in airline carriers during the flight, and those carriers must be big enough to accommodate the pet’s size. By crate training your pup from a young age, you will be ensuring that he is comfortable and happy in his carrier – no matter how long the flight may be. 

German Shepherd Puppy Crate Training: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have we convinced you yet that crate training is a vital part of raising a German shepherd pup? If so, read on for our step-by-step guide on how to go about it.

Step 1: Choose The Right Crate

Choosing the correct size crate, as well as the right type of crate, is essential for successful crate training. A crate that is too small will be uncomfortable and cramped, while a crate that is too large will provide too much space and allow your puppy to potty in one corner.

Ideally, your German shepherd puppy’s crate should be just big enough for him to stand up and turn around comfortably. Some dog parents find it helpful to use a metal crate with a divider panel that allows you to adjust the size of the crate as their puppy grows to its adult size. Others prefer plastic crates for their sturdiness, though this means they will have to go through several additional crates as their puppy grows.

Options that are less ideal include soft-sided crates and exercise pens. The former isn’t an ideal crate for training because they are not as sturdy as metal or plastic crates and can be torn up by a determined puppy. Meanwhile, an exercise pen doesn’t usually come with a roof, so if your pup is a jumper, he could easily escape.

Step 2: Introduce Your Puppy To The Crate

Once you have chosen the right crate for your puppy, it is time to start introducing him to it. Start by placing the crate in a room where your pup spends a lot of time, such as his playroom or bedroom. Make the crate nice and comfortable by furnishing it with crate bedding and comfort toys that he likes. This will help make the crate feel like a safe place for your pup.

German shepherd puppy

Next, let your pup explore the crate at his own pace without shutting the door. He should be allowed to enter and exit the crate voluntarily. If your pup is hesitant to go near the crate, try placing treats or his favorite toys inside to lure him in. You can also try coaxing him into the crate with a favorite food.

The goal of this exercise is to get your pup to feel comfortable going near the crate and entering it on his own. Filling the crate with his favorite toys and food treats will help him to associate the crate with positive things, such as food and safety. Over time, this will allow your pup to have a positive experience with crates without feeling confined.

Step 3: Feed Your Pup In The Crate

dog food

After your pup starts entering and exiting the crate on his own, start feeding him his meals inside the crate. If your German Shepherd pup has been entering and exiting the crate within seconds, placing a bowl of food inside will likely entice him to stay in the crate for a while.

If your pup is hesitant to eat his food inside the crate, start by putting a small amount of food in the crate and gradually increase the amount as he becomes more comfortable. You can also try feeding him his meals in short increments, such as 10 minutes at a time. Over time, you can build that up to 15-20 minutes, at which point your pup will likely be content to stay in the crate and eat his meal.

Depending on your pup’s personality, the food reward method may work better than minutes-long confinement. This may involve allowing your pup to remain out of the crate as long as he remains calm, but rewarding him with a food treat or play session when he enters the crate willingly.

Step 4: Start Closing The Crate Door

Once your pup is comfortable eating his meals inside of the crate, start closing the door for short periods of time. Start with shorter periods (a few minutes at most) and gradually increase the amount of time he spends in the crate with the door closed. Food puzzles that will keep your pup occupied, such as a chew stick or a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter, can be helpful during this time.

The goal at this juncture is to get your pup comfortable being in the crate with the door closed. This will help make him more content to stay in the crate for longer periods of time, such as when you’re not home or during car rides. When your pup learns to view the crate as a positive place, he will appreciate spending time there and even find comfort in it.

Step 5: Gradually Increase The Time Your Pup Spends In The Crate

Once your pup is content spending short periods of time in the crate with the door closed, it is time to start increasing the amount of time he spends in there. Start by leaving him in the crate for a few minutes while you’re home. If he seems to be doing well, gradually increase the amount of time he spends in there.

You can do so by gradually increasing the amount of time you’re gone, or by having him stay in the crate for longer periods of time but with occasional breaks. Over time, your pup will get to a point where he can comfortably sleep in the crate at night or for extended periods of time when you’re not home.

Have A Good Puppy Crate Training Schedule 

Like with anything else in life, a good routine is key when crate training your German Shepherd pup. A routine will help him understand what to expect and make the process smoother overall. Here’s a basic schedule to follow as you’re crate training:

  • Day 1: Introduce your pup to the crate and begin Step 1.
  • Day 2: Continue with Step 1 and move on to Step 2.
  • Day 3: Finish Step 2 and move on to Step 3.
  • Day 4: Finish Step 3 and begin Step 4.
  • Day 5: Finish Step 4 and move on to the final step.

Of course, you don’t have to follow this schedule to a tee. Different pups will learn at different speeds, so feel free to adjust the schedule as needed. Just make sure you are progressing slowly and steadily so your pup doesn’t get overwhelmed or frustrated.

The key to crate training your German Shepherd pup is patience and consistency. Take it one training session at a time, and make it a mutually rewarding experience for both you and your pup. Whatever you do, always keep your pup’s comfort in mind by never leaving him in the crate for too long or making it an overly stressful experience.

What If My Puppy Starts Crying?

german shepherd puppy (1)

Even after going through the stages of training, your German Shepherd pup may start whining or crying when you put him in the crate. This is normal behavior, as most puppies will whine or cry when they’re first being crated.

If your pup is whining or crying, the best thing to do is to wait it out. Resist the urge to shower your pet with lots of attention, as this will only reinforce the behavior. The goal is to make the crate a positive place for your pup, so he will start associating it with good things like food and relaxation.

If your pup continues to whine or cry after you’ve waited a reasonable amount of time, you may need to go back to Step 2 and start from the beginning. Be sure to remain consistent and patient, as crate training can be a slow process but is well worth the effort in the end.

Tips and Tricks For Successful Crate Training

In addition to following a good training schedule, there are a few other tips and tricks you can follow to ensure successful crate training for your German Shepherd pup:

A Tired Pup Is A Happy Pup

Something else you can do to help make the crate training process go more smoothly is to tire your pup out before placing him in the crate. A tired pup is less likely to whine or cry, as he will simply want to relax and sleep. Once your pup has spent enough time in his crate in a relaxed state, he will start to see the crate as a place of comfort and relaxation.

One way to tire your pup out is by going on a long walk or playing fetch in the yard. An intense exercise session such as this will help your pup relax and sleep in the crate without any fuss. Many dog parents also find that a training session before crating their pup helps to tire him out. When your pup is well-exercised and content, he is less likely to cause a scene when being crated!

Take Baby Steps

When crate training your German Shepherd pup, always take things slow and be consistent. Take things to step by step and only move on to the next step once your pup has mastered the current one. This will ensure that your pup doesn’t get overwhelmed or frustrated, which can lead to him refusing to enter the crate or trying to escape.

Another thing that helps is to learn how to assess and understand your pup’s personality. Some dogs are more independent and don’t need as much attention, while others may require more hands-on training. Crate training is a process that takes time and patience, so be prepared to put in the effort required to see successful results.

When things get challenging, don’t be afraid to take a break. There’s no shame in admitting that crate training is harder than you thought it would be. Life happens, and there will be times when things may not go according to plan. In these cases, simply break things up into smaller, more achievable steps and pick up where you left off.

Take Your Pup’s Age (And Bladder Size!) Into Consideration

Another thing to keep in mind when crate training your German Shepherd pup is his age and bladder size. Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t be left in the crate for more than three hours at a time, as they have small bladders and can’t hold them for very long. German Shepherds that are a couple of months older (six months and up) can generally handle being crated for up to six or eight hours at a time.

Of course, these are just general guidelines and you should always take your pup’s individual needs into account. If you notice that your pup is getting restless or starting to whine, it’s probably time to let him out of the crate. And if your pup seems content to spend a couple of hours in the crate, don’t feel obligated to rush him outside just because the “recommended” time has passed.

Crate training a German Shepherd pup can be a challenging but rewarding process. By following a good training schedule, being patient and consistent, and using some helpful tips and tricks, you can successfully train your pup to love his crate! 

Common Mistakes and Solutions

German Shepperd puppy 2

Part of successful crate training is understanding what not to do. Here are some of the most common mistakes dog parents make when crate training their German Shepherds, as well as some advice for people who find themselves stuck.

Using The Crate For Punishment

One of the worst things you can do when crate training your German Shepherd pup is to use the crate as a form of punishment. We understand that there may be times when your pup misbehaves and you need to discipline him, but using the crate as a form of punishment is a bad idea. What appears to you as a place of punishment will most likely be seen by your pup as a place of fear and anxiety.

The last thing you want is for your pup to associate the crate with punishment, as he will start to fear and avoid it. This can lead to problems such as refusing to enter the crate or trying to escape from it. In more severe cases, your pup may resort to drastic measures such as chewing through the crate or damaging property in an attempt to get out.

If you find yourself in a situation where your pup has misbehaved, try to find a different way to discipline him. Positive reinforcement is always the best option, as it is much easier to train a dog that way. If your pup knows that he will be rewarded for good behavior, he is more likely to repeat it.

Leaving A Dog With Separation Anxiety In The Crate

Separation anxiety is a very common problem among dogs and can make crate training very difficult. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, he may become extremely stressed and anxious when left alone.

Despite the many challenges that come with it, it is important to note that adult separation anxiety isn’t a behavioral issue, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We recommend against using crate training as a means to treat separation anxiety in adult dogs because it will only serve to further aggravate the problem.

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, it is best to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist who can help you develop a treatment plan. There are many different ways to treat separation anxiety, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Allowing A Dog To Potty In The Crate

One of the most common reasons why dogs refuse to enter or exit their crates is because they have been taught that it’s acceptable to potty in there. If you allow your dog to pee or poop in his crate, he will quickly learn that this is acceptable behavior and will continue doing it in the future.

The best way to avoid this is to make sure your pup has plenty of opportunities to go outside and relieve himself. If you are unable to let your dog out regularly, consider using a pee pad or placing him in a designated potty spot in the yard. This will help prevent your pup from associating the crate with going to the bathroom.

Conclusion

We hope this guide to crate training a German Shepherd puppy has been helpful. By following these tips and being patient and consistent, you can successfully train your pup to love his crate!

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help! And if you want more information on crate training, feel free to check out our guide on crate training an older dog, or even this article on when you can stop crate training a dog. We have a wealth of information to help you get started!

Meet our writer

Wanda has LOVED dogs ever since she was a child, and is currently a dog parent to a 3-year-old poodle who means the world to her. She was a volunteer with the Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition (BARC), a no-kill shelter based in Brooklyn, New York.

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