Crate Familiarization for Puppies

 Once you have your crate set up in the room of your choice (I recommend your bedroom) and you have brought your new puppy home, it is time to get your puppy familiarized with the crate.  

Make the crate feel like home
        Leave the crate door open and allow your puppy to explore it to whatever level he feels comfortable.  You may want to give him some treats while he is inside to make it a rewarding place to be.  Try not to force him inside or shut him in against his will.  This will frighten him and may hinder your familiarization progress.  

       Feed him his meals inside the crate as well and if you have a voracious eater, while he is eating is a good time to shut the crate door.  He will not notice it is closed until he is done eating at which point you should praise him for being calm and quiet inside and then let him out.  

To help him feel more at home during the night, you may consider purchasing a clock that makes a ticking noise and keep it near but outside the crate to simulate the heartbeat of his mother and/or siblings.  It will be soothing to your puppy and may actually lull you to sleep as well.  I generally place the crate right next to my bed so that if my puppy starts fussing when I put her in, I can reach over the side of the bed and stick my fingers through the crate so she can smell me.  Generally, she will lick me then settle down and go to sleep.  

Make the crate readily available and enjoyable
         When your puppy is awake and playing during the day, keep the door to the room where the crate is open and also, keep the crate door open.  I have even been known to move the crate to the living room where we would spend the most time.  The reason for this is when your puppy gets tired, if given the option, he may choose to nap in his crate.  If he chooses to do this, you should keep the door open to keep him from feeling trapped when he wakes up.  

You will want your puppy to be in his crate when you can’t keep an eye on him or are away from home.  If you leave your puppy consistently for long periods of time, your puppy may begin to associate the crate with the negative experience of being left alone.  You should set up times where you put him into his crate for maybe three to five minutes and then, let him out.  If you alternate randomly leaving him in his crate for an extended period of time and letting him out after a couple of minutes, he will learn that being in the crate doesn’t always mean that he has to stay in it indefinitely and therefore, isn’t a negative thing.    

You should see in a matter of a couple of days of familiarizing the crate to your puppy that he will willingly go into his crate to eat and sleep.  This crate has officially become his den and may remain so throughout his life if you continue to make it available.    

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