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Bluegrass Bernedoodle Blog

Crate Training a Puppy

Crate training is one of the best things to work on with your new puppy. Not only will it make house training much easier, it will also set them up for success later in life. There are numerous benefits for you and for your pup. “Dogs are less likely to have complications following surgery when they can peacefully relax (rather than accidentally aggravate injuries because they can’t settle now in a crate).” (American Kennel Club) Crates make it easier to safely transport your dog, whether traveling for leisure or an emergency. For the majority of their life, their crate will serve as their own peaceful space just for them.

“In addition to being like your puppy’s bedroom, the crate is also a very helpful housetraining tool, or in other words, teaching them when and where to go to the bathroom. For example, because puppies DO NOT want to have an accident where they sleep, the crate encourages them to hold it until it’s time to go to the bathroom. The crate also helps prevent your puppy from inappropriate things elsewhere in your house too, by managing their access to other areas when you aren’t able to watch them closely!” -Baxter & Bella Online Puppy School (Use code INSPIRE for 25% OFF)

“Dogs instinctively try to keep their sleeping areas clean. As such, the crate helps puppies learn to hold and strengthen their bladder and bowel muscles, making housebreaking less of a chore for you and your dog.” (American Kennel Club)

How to Successfully Crate Train Your New Pup

The most important step in crate training is making it a positive experience. Make sure they have their snuggle puppy in the crate with the heartbeat on. Giving them a soft chew and a hard chew will give them something to do as well. You can even feed them their meals in their crate. Anything you can do to make it a positive experience for them! Dogs are den animals, they like to feel secure and have their own space. It’s best to cover the crate completely with a blanket so it feels more like a den for them.

What Crate Type and Size Should I Buy?

There's nothing wrong with getting a big crate that your furbaby will grow into, but you will need some way to make it smaller while they are a puppy. We suggest getting a wire crate with a divider while they are a puppy, and then just getting rid of it later and using a nicer one. Check out our puppy products page for the crates listed below.

what size crate should I get

How Long can They Stay in Their Crate?

Regarding duration, day and night are different. During the day your puppy's absolute maximum crate time in hours equals how old your puppy is in months.

(2) months old = (2) hours

(3) months old = (3) hours

(4) months old = (4) hours etc.

On a typical day, after giving your puppy a potty break, place them in the crate with a safe chew toy and commit to dedicate the next 60 minutes or so for them to have some resting time, as well as to learn this is a safe zone for them, similar to a bedroom.

Plan to place the crate right next to you while you take a nap, read a book, watch a movie or sit and work in your office - although they are in the crate, with you right there, they don't also feel alone. Help your puppy relax by playing classical music, a noise machine, or metronome. Create a daily routine so your puppy knows what to expect when in their crate.

For the next few days, and as briefly noted above, start leaving them alone for SHORT durations - walk into another room then come right back; go make a sandwich in the kitchen and then return, etc... so your puppy learns it's okay to be alone because you'll be right back.

As you come and go, do not give your puppy attention, unless upon returning they are calm and quiet, which you can choose to sometimes reward with a yummy treat as needed to help them learn. Other than that, simply go about your day as usual. Gradually lengthen out the time you leave them alone as they learn until they can handle it like a champ! -Baxter & Bella

What Should I do if my Puppy Cries in Their Crate?

Baxter & Bella says, “It is important to be mindful and make a distinction of being there to positively help an infant puppy who is struggling with the crate and stressed in the situation versus our caution of unintentionally rewarding or reinforcing a toddler puppy throwing a tantrum in order to get what they want. From the get go, we want to help our puppy as best as we can to feel relaxed in their crate. Doing the things mentioned above for the first several days makes a huge difference. They may bark, whimper, whine, etc... but don't worry, with some practice, patience and persistence, your dog can learn to love their crate and you will be so grateful when they do!

If you puppy is simply barking because they want to be out with you, it’s better to allow them to work through the frustration and help them self-soothe. By not rewarding the barking with attention this behavior decreases each time until your puppy readily settles when in their crate - get them out when they bark, and the barking will increase!

Take your puppy potty right before crate time to help ensure any barking or whining is not because they need to go potty. Most puppies settle themselves within 20-30 minutes. Some will cry longer and some will fuss for shorter time periods. Letting them get over the frustration on their own is a healthy life lesson and a puppy who has learned to settle in their crate will be calm when left alone - a wonderful behavior!

If you need more help working through crate training, we highly suggest signing up for Baxter & Bella. They offer one on one calls with their trainers, group Q+A calls, and there is an extensive amount of training information you can access as well! All of our families who have done it love it! It's for the life of all your future dogs too. The first couple units really will help set you up for success! (Just remember if you got your furbaby from us, they will be further along so you won't need to set alarms through the night to take out your pup. That's for pups that don't have the curriculum and exposure ours have along the way.) Crate training can be a bit of a challenge in the beginning, but it's so worth it in the end. Here's a photo from one of our families whose dog goes on her crate on her own throughout the day, just to relax. :)

Lastly, down be surprise if you put a little blanket or bed in the crate and they push it all the way to the back. Bernedoodles are fluffy and can get hot. Some of them prefer the plastic crate base over a fluffy blanket or bed because they'd rather stay cool! If that's the case just leave it bare and give them a chew toy in case they get bored. As they continue to grow, they will go into their crate on their own and takes naps. Once they understand the crate is their safe space, they love it!

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crate training a puppy


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