FAQ: Crate Training
1. Should I crate train my puppy? Why?
ln our experience, crate training is crucial for many reasons. It creates a safe place to put the puppy when you are out of the house or asleep.
Since you can not keep your eyes on your puppy at all times, it is very easy for them to get into things that could hurt them. For example, they coutd chew on wires, get into cleaning fluid, chew on plastic or other choking hazards/chemicals.
If implemented correctly, a crate can be a safe, comfortable place for a puppy to sleep and unwind in. Crates can often evoke a feeling of being safe much like a puppy's "den" instinct where they feel protected and secure.
What Kind of Crate do You Recommend?
We recommend wire cages that are only just big enough for your puppy to stand up with several inches above his head and able to turn around comfortably. Any more room than this and they will likely use the bathroom inside their crate.
Since you want to encourage your puppy to use the bathroom outside and only outside, you want to give them just enough room to sleep only. Amazon and other pet stores sell crates that start off big but come with dividers to make it smaller so you can remove the dividers as your puppy grows.
Cavapoos and Mini Doodles under 30lbs: 30 Inch Crate
Mini Doodles 30-45lbs: 36 Inch Crate
Medium Doodles 45-60lbs: 42 Inch Crate
3. What should I avoid putting in the crate with my puppy?
Do NOT put:
NO Rawhide bones. Aside from holding onto bacteria, rawhide bones can quickly be chewed down to a choking hazard
NO Puppy Training/ Pee pads. Not only do you want to encourage your pet to use the bathroom outside and outside only, these pads have a plasiic lining that the puppy can chew on and get stuck in their throat.
NO collar with Id Tag. These can get snagged on different parts of the crate. Though, not necessarily dangerous, can cause the puppy a lot of anxiety and might hurt themselves in the struggle to get free.
NO Heating pads or heating blankets- These can be very dangerous as wires can be chewed on and puppies can accidentally burn or shock themselves.
A good rule of thumb: Don't place anything in your puppy's pen that you don't expect them to chew up completely.
4. How do I make my puppy feel as comfortable as possible?
The crate should never be a punishrnent zone, only a place to sleep and stay in while you are gone or in bed.
Never leave the puppy in the crate for more than 3-4 hours during the day. lt is important for puppies to release a lot of energy, learn, grow, and explore. During the night, however, they should be able to sleep comfortably for an 8 hour stretch (depending on their age).
If you are going to work/school and the puppy will be alone for more than 3-4 hours, you will need to hire someone to come and let your puppy out and have AT LEAST 45 minutes (idealy an hour and a half) of play time and bathroom time before returning to the crate.
If you are unable to hire someone then it will be important to make a play area such as a kitchen or bathroom with a baby gate blocking the entrance with easy access to food, water and toys. Be aware that this can make house training more difficult since you are not there to let them out so, if you are planning on getting a puppy, you will want to plan for it to be during a time where you will have as much time as possible to devote to your puppy or to have friends and family members to help you.
5. How do I get my puppy to like their crate more?
Never use the crate as a place of punishment.
When placing your puppy in his crate, try hiding small treats in his bedding or blankets . This will make him excited to go into his crate.
Make sure it is comfortable- Too much light or near a cold breeze or air vent can make them uncomfortable.
A white noise machine outside the crate. Much like babies, this can be very soothing.
Putting a blanket or towel over the crate to create a comfy feeling.
Reduce noisy distractions to help them fall asleep.
Have toys! Nylabones are great as well as Kongs- A great trick is to take a Kong, put peanut butter into the hole in the middle, freeze it, and place it in the back of the dog's crate. This can keep your dog entertained and busy for a while (not recommended for nighttime use, only day time. Nighttime should be for sleeping only).
Routine, again, is key. A certain time to wake up and go to bed will help them fali into a schedule. Saying a ceriain phrase like "Bedtime" or "Crate", along with praise and treats when they enter, will help them realize that it is a happy place to be.
5. What can I expect in the beginning?
Your puppy will likely cry in the beginning. Don't worry, you are not being cruel to your puppy. They are just in a new place with new smells, sounds and sights and it will be the first time in their life they are away from their siblings. Just like human babies, crying is to be expected so you will need to make sure your neighbors or roommates are okay with you getting a puppy.
Some places recommend getting a toy or towel with the scent of the puppy's litter to put in their crate with them. We do NOT recommend this. In our training experience we have seen this cause seperation axiety as the puppy will smell his litter but not be able to find them. This confusion can cause discomfort, anxiety and ultimately more crying.
Instead, we recommend you putting something that smells like your family into the crate such as an old towel or sock. This will aid in the bonding process and start an association of comfort with your scent.
Try not to let your puppy out if they cry or this can reinforce the notion that you will let them out whenever they cry for you. Your puppy should start to quiet down after 1-2 weeks.