Crate Training In A WeekendMarch 31, 2021 2021-08-03 5:30
Are you ready to add a new puppy to your family? You probably decided to crate train him. The crate can be a helpful tool to keep your puppy out of trouble, help with potty training and offer a safe and secure place to sleep.
If you are working full-time, you may want to crate train your puppy within a weekend. But is this really possible?
The quick answer is that while you can get started in a weekend, you cannot complete the training process in such a short time frame. No behavior is taught reliably in two days – this applies to crate training as well! All areas of dog training require continued practice and consistency. While you can begin the crate training process on a Friday evening, do not expect to be completely done 48 hours later.
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Is a weekend enough to crate train a puppy?
No – a weekend is not enough time to completely crate train a puppy. You need to expect that this process will take quite a bit longer.
Whenever you are teaching anything to a dog, remember that only you have an idea of how the end behavior should look like. Your dog has never done it before – he knows nothing about the skills you want him to learn. It is important to be patient and go at the dog’s speed whenever you train anything.
That applies to crate training as well. You should absolutely not rush this and simply put your puppy in an indestructible crate for 6 hours during the day. He will likely get very scared and start to hate the crate.
Instead, go slowly and establish a strong positive connection to the crate. This will be much more successful in the long run.
Of course, your crate should not be too small or too big. It should be placed in a quiet part of the house and be as comfortable for the pup as possible.
Starting out with crate training
You can definitely begin crate training over the weekend. Here are some steps you can follow:
On Friday evening, take your puppy for a nice long walk or playtime outside. Try to get him as tired as you can – you can play with toys, let him run and wrestle with other puppies, do some training etc. The goal is to get him so tired that he will quickly pass out once in his crate.
Bring him inside and then put him into his crate. The crate should be as comfortable as possible – you can have blankets and stuffed animals in there. If you brought your puppy home from a breeder and the breeder gave you a toy, t-shirt or blanket that smells like the puppy’s mom and littermates, this should absolutely go into the crate as well!
If your puppy cries briefly in the crate but settles fast, that is ok. You can stay close to the crate so he can see and hear you – this is comforting to pups.
After the night in the crate, it is time for more playing, exercising and training on Saturday morning! Take your puppy outside and have a nice time there. You can once again play, train, go for a walk, let him explore, hide some treats for him to find … the more energy your puppy can exert, the easier it will be for him to settle for his nap in the crate! After an hour or two, bring him inside and out him into his crate. You can give him a chew such as a bullystick to be calm as he settles for his nap.
Repeat this several times throughout the day – giving your puppy periods of activity and then a rest in the crate. At night, your puppy will once again sleep in the crate.
The third day – your puppy should already settle quickly for his crate naps by now. If you want to help him generalize the new skill, you can also take him for a car ride in his crate. Ideally he will be calm and relaxed and maybe even lie down to sleep on the road.
At night, your puppy will – once more – sleep in his crate.
By the end of the weekend, your puppy will expect that he takes naps in his crate. However this does not mean that you can put him in there as he is wide-awake. There is nothing to do in a crate except sleeping. If you have a puppy who is ready for action go into his kennel, chances are he will be whining and crying.
Proceeding after the first weekend of crate training
Once more – your dog will not be perfectly crate-trained after the first weekend. This is only the start of the crate training process. As with all behaviors, it will take time and consistency to perfect it.
Going forward, keep on putting your puppy into his crate whenever he is ready for a nap. During the night he can sleep in his crate as well. Never put him into the crate when he has just woken up from a nap – if you do this, he will likely be very bored and frustrated and will regress in his crate training progress.
The Bottom Line
It is not possible to complete the crate training process in one single weekend. However, with the right approach you can already get started and establish a positive connection for your puppy. It is very important that you only crate him when he is already tired and ready for a nap. That way, he will quickly associate: crate = rest time.
If you got your puppy from a shelter and he has experienced trauma and stress, it might be that he sleeps a lot during the first week or two. If you can have him take these naps in the crate, you will be off to a great start to training already!
You should not put your puppy into a crate if he is wide awake and ready for action. This would only build up resentment and frustration and lead to problems in the future. Instead, make the crate a comfortable place of rest and relaxation.
You can help your puppy get used to the crate even better in a weekend by making it extra snuggly. Use blankets and stuffed toys to create a welcoming den for your puppy. The more comfortable he feels in the crate, the more he will enjoy taking his naps in there.