How Long Does Crate Training a Puppy Take?

Crate training a puppy is a relatively simple task. However, if your dog previously had a bad experience with crating, the training may take a little longer.

Typical Crate Training

Crate training a typical dog or puppy with no previous experience with crates doesn't take very long, probably no longer than a few hours, if that. These hours may take place over two or three days, however, if you are in no hurry for crate training.

Many dogs are crate trained in the simplest way: their owners toss a treat in the crate, possibly give their dogs bones or another special treat, close the doors and leave. This works fine for many dogs.

To crate train your dog in a positive manner, feed him a couple of his meals in the crate, beginning as soon as you bring him home. Toss treats in the crate and praise your dog for going in after them. Give him additional treats while he's in the crate. Finally, put a bone or very special treat in the crate. Close the door with your dog on the outside. Allow him to try to get in the crate and whine for you to let him in. After a minute or so, let him in. Close the door until he is finished with the treat. Then, let him out.

If you repeat this for a day or two, your dog will soon be seeking out his crate. Put a comfortable bed inside and an old shirt that smells like you. When you leave him in there the first few times, give him a special treat.

Common Mistakes When Crate Training

Crate training your puppy may take a little longer if you make mistakes during training. Avoid this by recognizing some common errors.

No matter how long and loudly your puppy cries, do not let him out of his crate. If you respond to your puppy each time he cries, he will learn that he can get out of the crate by making noise. If you are concerned that he may need to relieve himself, take him outside for just a minute to give him the chance and then return him to his crate.

With a nervous dog, don't move too quickly. Another common error is to push your puppy in the crate and then leave him there before he is ready. If your puppy seems nervous, keep crate introductions short and stay near him for reassurance.

In addition, don't leave your dog in the crate for six hours during his first stay in the crate. No dog should be in his crate longer than four hours anyway, and when introducing it, the stays should be much shorter.

Crate Training a Fearful Dog

Crate training a fearful dog may take weeks or months, depending on the dog and level of fear. If you push your dog, it could take even longer.

The key is moving slowly. Consider taking the door off the crate until your dog is more comfortable. Begin by feeding your dog his meals at the edge of the crate so he doesn't have to go in. If your dog is too afraid to eat, move the bowl to directly outside the crate.

Toss your dog's favorite treats, such as steak or hot dogs, in the crate. Once your dog is going in the crate without hesitation, begin the previously mentioned training protocol. If your dog ever becomes too nervous, slow down. Making him feel comfortable is the biggest key to success.