What is Crate Training?
If you’ve spent any amount of time around dogs or dog owners, you’ve probably heard of crating or crate training dogs. But should you crate train your doodle? And what exactly is crate training? The short answer is yes, you absolutely should crate train your doodle.
Crate training is the process of teaching your dog to be comfortable in a crate or cage. The idea behind this comes from a dog’s “denning instinct.” Dogs don’t live their lives in dens, but they do seek out the safety of a den-like space when they are vulnerable.
The idea of crating may seem uncomfortable to you, but as you train your doodle and reinforce the crate as their space and a good thing, your dog will come to think of it as a familiar and safe space that they can go to when they want to be alone. This isn’t a prison for them. Instead, think of it as being similar to going to your room when you want to be left alone.
Crate training or crating should not be used as a punishment for your doodle, and it isn’t a solution for bad behavior. Crate training should be a positive experience, both for you and your dog.
What are the Benefits of Crate Training?
In addition to providing a general safe space for your doodle, crate training comes with a ton of benefits! Here are some of the top ones:
- House Training: one of the most common benefits of crate training is that it helps to house train your doodle. Dogs don’t like to soil the place where they sleep or their place of comfort, so they will learn to hold on as long as possible when in their crate. Just keep in mind, puppy bladders are small, so they shouldn’t be left in the crate for long periods of time to start.
- Security: Once your doodle is comfortable in their crate, they will use it as a place of security and comfort. The crate can help them feel safe when they are overwhelmed, scared of loud noises, or any other anxiety-inducing events.
- Transport: Many doodle owners use crates when they are driving with their doodle, especially as a puppy. Leaving your doodle unsecured in your car can be dangerous, both for you and your doodle. Having them travel in their crate keeps them in one spot and protects them in case of an accident. It can also act as a comfort for dogs that aren’t as comfortable in the car.
- Traveling Home: Your doodle’s crate provides a traveling home for them. This is perfect for helping them feel comfortable when they are staying with a boarding kennel, or if you take them on vacation with you. Having their kennel can help relieve the anxiety of unfamiliar locations.
- Protection: Many doodle owners will crate their doodle when they aren’t home, especially as a puppy. This will keep your doodle puppy out of trouble and it will also reduce the chance that they will have an accident in your home.
Choosing a Crate for Your Doodle
When it comes to crates, you have a wide variety of sizes and materials available. It is important to get a crate that will be large enough for your doodle, but not too large. There should be enough room for your doodle to stand up and turn around in. Keep in mind that your doodle will grow quite a bit! You can either buy a new crate each time they outgrow their smaller crate, or you can get a crate that allows you to block off part of the area so you can adjust the size without having to buy a new crate and spend money unnecessarily. It is generally recommended to go with the second option, not only because it saves money, but also because your doodle will be trained with and become used to their permanent crate from the beginning.
Crate sizes are based on length and height. The crate space should generally be 2-4 inches longer than your doodle and 2-4 inches taller than your doodle in the “Sit” position. You should also check the weight limits of the crate when purchasing one. Plastic and metal dog crates are generally considered to be the best options when crate training.
How Do You Crate Train?
Now that you know why you should crate train and how to choose a good crate for your doodle, how do you crate train? Just like training your doodle with anything else, the specifics of the process will depend on you and your doodle, but there are some best practices that make the job easier. Luckily for you, doodles are generally considered to be very intelligent dogs, so crate training should be fairly easy!
Start by introducing your doodle puppy to their crate. The crate should be placed out of the way, in an area that your doodle can easily access. The introduction should start to create a positive association with the crate. Blankets, favored toys, and treats are all a great way to help them feel comfortable around the crate. Let them explore the crate and really get comfortable with it being in their space. It is important to always be positive and not overly emotional about crating. Your doodle takes their cues from you, and if you are upset, they will get upset!
When you start closing them in the crate, make sure you start with very short amounts of time. You should stay with them for these time periods and reward them after each one. As you build up to longer amounts of time, you can start leaving the room. Once your doodle is comfortable with being crated for approximately 30 minutes without you in the room, you can start crating them while you leave or at night.
Fully crate training your doodle puppy may take time, but they should be able to pick it up in a matter of weeks if you are consistent with your training.
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