Crate training is an invaluable tool for all pet parents. While it is a lengthy process, it teaches your pet restraint, how to follow basic commands, and makes traveling much easier!
What if I told you that you could start the process in just 3 days? While your dog definitely won’t be fully crate-trained by Sunday, you could lay down the foundations over just 1 weekend.
This will help you later on by slowly introducing your pup to his kennel.
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Is it possible to crate train your dog in a weekend?
You might be wondering – is this even possible? The answer is yes! The most important aspect of training is to have a solid foundation. Sometimes, your dog can become confused if he is not used to specific training methods.
So, you must start off with an easy-to-understand framework & set of instructions. Your pup can quickly become overwhelmed or scared by the big change of sleeping in a crate; this may lead to crate training regression or a refusal to enter the crate.
A bad introduction means your dog’s training process will be greatly extended. My friend ended up crate-training her pooch for almost a year because she immediately locked him in the crate for a few hours a day, even when he was whining. This caused him to form a strong negative association with the crate, which meant he would avoid entering it at all costs.
So, she had to retrain him over a period of several months to enter the crate, and now he willingly sleeps in it! Of course, your pooch won’t be 100% crate trained by the time Sunday rolls around, but these 3 days will lay the foundation for the rest of your crate training.
Why should I try to crate-train my pup on the weekend?
Is there any benefit to crate-training your pooch in just a weekend? While it’s impossible to fully crate train your pup in just a couple of days, it’s a good opportunity to introduce your pup to the kennel carefully.
Consistent training over 3 days will give your puppy a comfortable first encounter with the crate. Over the weekend, your dog will begin to understand that his crate is a place for him to relax if his surroundings are overstimulating.
If you lock your dog in his crate for hours at a time right from the start, he will probably develop a strong negative association with the crate. Therefore, taking things slowly & easing into the training over a weekend will be much less stressful for your puppy.
There is a myriad of benefits, as well as a few risks, to crate-training your pooch.
Keeps your home & pup safe
A bored puppy is a destructive puppy. Dogs love to entertain themselves and often do so in the most damaging ways, displaying seriously destructive behaviors!
When my pup was still young, I left him alone at home for 10 minutes, and I came back up to see that he had already ripped two pillows to shreds and was working on the third!
Crating your dog at home when you aren’t there stops him from unwanted behaviors that will end up causing damage to your home.
It also keeps your puppy safe from getting into the pantry items, cleaning supplies, garbage, or anything else that could seriously harm him.
Aids with potty training
Dogs are den animals, meaning they naturally tend to enclosed spaces. Similarly, they are very good at keeping their dens quite clean.
This means they will divide their living space into a sleeping area & a bathroom area. They will avoid urinating in the same spot that they sleep in.
In a crate, you may only have space for a pee pad & a bed. Your dog will instinctively urinate on the pee pad because he does not want to pee where he sleeps.
This will make further potty training much easier because your pooch will be used to relieve himself on the pads.
Whether you’re traveling by train, plane, or car, having your pet in a crate is a must. A carrier makes your dog easier to transport, makes him more relaxed, and is a flight requirement.
Makes guests feel safe
I’ve had many experiences where I’ve had guests who are really uncomfortable with my dogs. Even being in the same room as the pups can freak them out. In this case, putting your dogs in a crate until your guests leave is always easier.
Just locking them in a room gives them too much space & can often confuse them and leave them with a serious case of FOMO.
Calms your pup down
A crate is your dog’s safe haven. It’s an isolated den where he knows he won’t be troubled. So, putting him in his crate when he’s stressed out can calm your pooch down.
It gives him a second to rest & decompress. A crate can provide some much-needed privacy for dogs that are overstimulated.
Over-reliance on crating your pooch
Crating your puppy can be very convenient for traveling, guests, and protecting your house & your pooch. Therefore, it’s common to see inexperienced pet parents leave their dogs in their crates for too long.
A dog shouldn’t be crated for more than 8 hours, even if they are fully potty trained.
So, if you leave your pooch in his crate while you’re at work, take him out before you go & immediately after you come back from work. Let him relieve himself, play with him, and show him tons of love!
Finding a crate that fits your pup perfectly can be difficult.
A crate that is too small may lead to back or neck problems, rashes, and shivering due to stress. Ensure he can sit up straight, turn around, and lay completely outstretched in his crate.
However, bigger isn’t always better. Since dogs tend to divide their living area into a sleeping space & a potty space, a large crate means that they will turn half of their crate into a potty patch.
Plus, a jumbo-sized crate can also stress them out & make them feel unsafe. If you have a puppy & don’t want to keep buying new crates when your dog outgrows them, consider getting a puppy divider so your crate can grow with your pooch.
Frustration & distress
Crate training is a confusing & hectic time for puppies. It’s a huge change in the way of life that they were used to.
This can cause severe frustration & distress. Suddenly sleeping in a crate may make them feel unsafe, confused, and abandoned.
It’s crucial to introduce crate life to your puppy in a slow & controlled manner, like by following the weekend training schedule below!
Crate Training Schedule
Here’s a step-by-step crate training schedule that comprises 3 days of rigorous training.
Day 1- Door’s Wide Open!
Start off the day by playing with your dog. Make sure your pup is tuckered out, content, and has had tons of bathroom breaks. This will make him much more receptive to going in the crate.
Now, introduce your dog to the crate slowly. Let him spend lots of time sniffing, touching, and trying to understand what it’s here for. Here comes the most important part; you need to make the crate as enticing as possible. Here’s how!
- Keep the crate near you or near a spot with a lot of foot traffic. Make sure your pup can see you clearly while laying down there. Consider sitting on the ground close to the kennel to make him more comfortable.
- Put his favorite blanket, exciting toys, or special treats like a delicious chew bone or some freeze-dried liver in the kennel! By putting tasty treats like your dog’s favorite bone in the crate, you will entice him to enter it.
- Around breakfast time, keep your dog’s food & water bowls inside the crate near the entrance. This way, he doesn’t have to enter the kennel fully to eat, but he will have to pop his head in.
- No matter what, leave the crate open. On day 1, do not close the door if your pup is inside, as this is too sudden for most dogs & can cause stress.
Day 2- The Training Begins
Today is the first day when you will be actively training your pooch to stay in the crate. We have broken Day 2 into 2 training steps that are easier to follow.
Stage 1 can be done in the morning or early afternoon after your dog’s bathroom break.
This is when you will use positive reinforcement to entice your dog to enter his crate. Your goal for this stage should be that your dog will enter the kennel fully & stay in there for a minute or two.
- Sit close to the door of the crate. I recommend sitting on the floor next to the door to show your dog that it is safe to be near the kennel.
- Make sure your pup is leashed.
- Decide on a short & sweet verbal cue to signify your dog entering the crate. This could be “good night!”, “sleep!”, or “bed!”.
- Toss a few high-quality treats, like a special bone, into the crate. Wait for your pooch to enter. Once he does, say your command & give him tons of verbal praise & petting.
- Do not close the door. Let your dog get comfortable with staying in the crate for a minute or so. In this phase, he is solidifying the relationship between your verbal command & the action of entering the kennel.
- Use your command for leaving the crate & gently pull your dog’s leash, so he exits the kennel.
- After your dog stays in the crate for a few minutes, try again after a short break from training. If your dog does it 2-3 more times, you can progress to stage 2.
- Make sure you give your dog at least a half-hour break between stage 1 and stage 2. Without a lunch break, your pup will be overworked & unresponsive to further training.
After a midday break, your pup should be energized & ready to tackle some more training. This is when you are going to close the door for a short period of time.
- Ensure your pup is well-fed, has been played with, and doesn’t need a potty break.
- Add his favorite treats to the kennel. Start with your pup close to the kennel & say your entering cue.
- Wait for your dog to enter before praising him & giving him tons of love.
- Now, you will need to gently close the door & stay right next to the kennel. If you have a wire crate, pressing your hand onto the side may be helpful so your dog can sniff you.
- After around 1 minute, open up the crate doors again, say your exit cue, and give your dog tons of praise & some delicious treats like freeze-dried liver or peanut butter!
- If your dog whines before you say your exit cue, ignore it. If it goes on for more than 20-30 seconds, however, you may need to open the door & restart the training again after a quick break.
- Continue this step multiple times until your dog can stay in the crate for over 5 minutes.
- Then, when your dog is in the crate, stand up for about a minute & then open the door.
- After your dog is comfortable with that, you can walk around the room & even leave the room while your dog is still in the kennel.
- Your dog may even take a quick crate nap if all the training tuckers him out!
Day 3 is all about reinforcing what you have taught your dog in the past 2 days. You must ensure that your pooch knows the commands for entering & exiting the kennel, regardless of whether there are treats in there.
- Start off your training bright & early, preferably before breakfast, so your pup is still hungry.
- Like before, stay next to the kennel with the door open. However, do not place any surprise goodies in there. Before you begin, prepare supplies like kibble, chicken, or liver in your pocket or training pouch.
- Say the entering command and wait for your dog to enter the crate. When he does, close it behind him, but stay next to the kennel.
- Wait for 1 minute before opening the door. Once you open the door, say the exit command.
- Once your pooch exits, give him tons of verbal praise & tasty treats.
- Repeat this until you can stand up, walk around the room, and eventually leave the room while your pooch is still in the closed crate!
- Continue doing this until you don’t need to give your dog a treat once he exits the kennel. At this point, your dog should be very used to your 2 cues and what they mean.
- Remember – training is an ongoing process that never ends. It’s essential to remain patient if your dog seems to be regressing with his training.
For new pet parents, the crate training process is a dangerous bridge to cross. However, laying down a solid foundation in just 3 days is a great way to jumpstart this lengthy process.
By getting a suitable crate, following our guidelines, keeping training times short & enjoyable, and remaining patient, it’s quite unlikely that your dog will develop crate anxiety.
The benefits of crate training are endless, so it’s a fantastic skill for your pup.
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