An Introduction to Crate Training Your Puppy

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Dog imageCrate training is necessary for safety, damage prevention, housetraining and travelling. When you can't keep your puppy with you, he should be confined to a safe area, such as a dog crate. The crate should be big enough for your puppy to comfortably stand up and turn around in when he reaches adult size.

A good way to introduce your puppy to the crate is by playing a game that teaches him to go into the crate on command. At mealtime, grab a handful of his favorite Hill's puppy food kibble and take your puppy to the crate area. With a bit of encouragement, toss a kibble into the crate. As your puppy runs in after the food, say "Go to your crate." Once your puppy has eaten the prize, he will run out to play again.

Repeat the exercise 15 to 20 more times per session. Gradually move farther from the crate before you toss the food. Eventually, you should be able to say "Go to your crate" as you sweep your hand toward the empty crate and your puppy will enter on command.

If possible, keep the crate in an area where the family spends a lot of time so your puppy has the opportunity to occasionally enter on his own. You can encourage exploration and time in the crate by placing Hill's puppy treats or toys in the crate for your puppy to find.

You must be careful not to overdo crate confinement. Your puppy can be kept in his crate all night for sleeping and up to four hours during the day, but if you are away from ho,me for a longer period, you will need to provide more room until your puppy can control his bowels or bladder.

For longer confinement periods, you can use a small, puppy-proofed room or an exercise pen with papers spread on the floor during the day, and then use the crate at night when your puppy sleeps. A crate is just too small an area to keep your puppy in all day and all night, too.

If your puppy cries or barks while confined, try to ignore him. Releasing your puppy or giving him any type of attention will reinforce the behavior.

You need to make your puppy stop barking before you let him out of the confinement area. You can try blowing on a whistle or making an unusual noise. This will cause your puppy to be quiet as he tries to decipher the sound. You can then quickly go into the room and release your puppy while he is quiet.

Most importantly, the confinement area should be a safe haven for your puppy, so never scold or handle your puppy roughly as you put him inside.

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