Learning how to kennel train a puppy is one of the best time investments a new dog owner can make. While some people may fear that kenneling is cruel or inhumane for a social animal, it is actually quite the opposite.
As den creatures, dogs crave small, enclosed areas when scared, tired, or simply wishing to escape the chaos of the household. Indeed, dog owners that are kennel training puppies can achieve success quickly and efficiently when following the proper protocol.
Reasons for Kennel Training Puppies
There are numerous reasons kennel training a new puppy should occur as soon as possible, and some may surprise you.
Not only does crating your pet help with potty training and ensure that he or she stays out of trouble when you are away, but kennel training can also ensure your puppy’s safety. During car trips, airplane rides, natural disasters, after surgery, or during other unforeseen circumstances, a crate may be the safest place for your pet.
As your dog grows older, having free access to the crate can be beneficial, especially if your dog is skittish during thunderstorms, fireworks, or simply wants to rest in an area he or she feels safe. Even though many owners do not use the crate beyond the puppy years, it is still a very important skill for a dog to have learned.
Buying a Kennel
When learning how to kennel train your puppy the first step is to purchase the proper sized crate.
If using the crate for potty training or for rehabilitation after an injury it is recommended to purchase one that is just large enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around in comfortably. Any larger and you run the risk of inappropriate elimination inside the kennel or too much movement during recovery.
If your puppy is expected to grow much larger before being fully trained look for a kennel that has removable partitions. Purchasing a crate with removable partitions allows an easy and convenient way for controlling how much space within the crate your puppy can access.
Kennel Training Tips
Kennel training for puppies is an easy task to undertake, when done appropriately. Before you begin, bear in mind that the kennel should only have positive associations.
Never place your puppy in the crate as punishment; otherwise he or she will fear the kennel and refuse entry.
Also beware that kennel training is not an alternative to proper exercise or training. While convenient, a puppy should never be left in a kennel for more than four hours at a time.
Additionally, unless your dog has severely destructive tendencies, the kennel should only be used as a training aid, and not as a means of prolonged confinement during the day or at night.
Introduce Puppy to Kennel
The best way to kennel train a puppy is to do so slowly in a number of steps. To begin, first introduce your puppy to the kennel while providing positive praise and treats. This action will help your puppy associate the kennel as something good, rather than something to be afraid of.
With the door to the kennel open, place treats in and around the crate while telling your pet what a good dog he or she is. If your puppy voluntarily walks inside, give him or her profuse positive praise. Every time your puppy enters the crate, be sure to use a key word (such as “crate!” or “kennel!”) in a praising tone followed by a treat in order for your puppy to learn the command.
Crated Meal Time
Once your puppy has shown confidence in and around the crate, begin to feed meals inside the kennel. At first, simply place the food bowl right inside the crate door and gradually move the bowl further inside each meal.
Once your puppy is comfortably eating meals inside the crate, close the kennel door until your puppy is finished eating.
Extend Crated Time
When your puppy has mastered crated meal time, you can begin to extend the amount of time he or she is left inside the kennel. After a meal, leave the door to the crate closed for an additional five minutes.
Gradually increase the amount of time left crated by 5 – 10 minutes each day. Eventually work up to leaving your puppy crated while you are away for short periods of time, such as to run errands. Once your puppy has mastered extended time in the kennel, learning how to kennel train a puppy at night is the final step.
Crated Bed Time
Kennel training a puppy at night is easy if the dog is already accustomed to the crate. That’s why it’s important to successfully complete introducing the puppy to the kennel and crated meal time first. It will definitely make this step much easier.
For puppies that have a tendency to inappropriately urinate or defecate in the house while the family is asleep, a kennel can be a lifesaver. Just imagine accidentally finding a soft squishy surprise with your bare foot as you walk into the kitchen to make the morning coffee!
For your puppy’s safety, never leave loose blankets in the kennel, as they can pose a strangulation hazard. However, do provide a soft bed or padded cushion for your pet. At bed time simply place your dog in the crate using a treat and the kennel command.
In the beginning, your pet may feel safest if the crate is near the bedroom or even beside your bed. This will help to prevent your puppy feeling socially isolated. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago when he had the warmth and comfort of his siblings when sleeping.
It is also recommended to keep your puppy nearby in case he or she needs to be let outside to use the restroom, as puppies will whine or cry to avoid eliminating in their sleeping quarters. As your puppy grows and begins to sleep through the night, the crate can be moved to another location in the house.
A Final Thought
Some puppies will whine and cry when crated in order to seek attention from their owners or out of fear that they are missing out on whatever the family is doing. Never let your puppy out of the crate because he or she is crying, otherwise your dog will continue the behavior.
If boredom is an issue for your puppy, be sure he or she is receiving adequate exercise. It may also be beneficial to provide your pet with a boredom busting interactive dog toy, such as a KONG or other mentally stimulating toy.