From housebreaking to traveling, crate training a puppy or dog can have long-term rewards for both owners and pets.
: Collars can get caught in a crate's bars or wire mesh; before crating, always remove your dog's collar unless it's a break-away safety version.
Step 1: Choose a crate Choose a crate to fit your dog. They should be able to walk into the crate upright without hitting their head on the roof, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
TIP: Puppies need good bladder control for crate training, so don't start the process until your dog is 10 weeks or older.
Step 2: Remove the top Remove the screws that hold the top and bottom halves of the crate together. Take off the top of the crate and remove the door, turning the crate into an open den.
Step 3: Create a bedroom Create a soft sleeping area with the towel or blanket, putting two of your dog's favorite toys at the far end of the bedding. Let your dog go in and out of the open crate for a few hours at a time over the next few days.
TIP: Domesticated dogs still have a natural instinct to create a haven or den.
Step 4: Add water and toys After your dog has gotten used to the crate, fill the water bottle with ice water and attach it to the inside. Place the toys at the closed end of the crate and put a few treats at the far edge of the bedding. Reattach the top and door.
Step 5: Use positive phrases Place the crate close to a chair or sofa you often sit in, or, at night, near your bed. With the crate door open, encourage your dog to go inside with positive phrases like "go to bed" or "go to your room" and point at the crate.
TIP: Make sure your dog goes to the bathroom before entering the crate.
Step 6: Stay close by During the first few sessions in a closed crate, sit or sleep nearby. This will make your puppy more comfortable with their new room.
Step 7: Respect the crate Because the crate will soon become your dog's room, make sure you don't disturb them while they're in the crate. If your dog wants to come out and play, they will bark to let you know.
FACT: About one-third of dog owners leave messages for their dogs on an answering machine or talk to them while they’re away, according to a poll.