This brings us to our next tip, which is a bit dual-sided depending on your dog. For some puppies or dogs, placing the crate in a spot where they do not feel alone is helpful and will result in dog that is more settled in their crate as they do not feel left out. This can mean having the crate in the living room or kitchen where your family normally spends their time or possibly in your bedroom at night or with other dogs where you may have them created. If you do not want them in the same room you can try putting a radio in with them as this can help them not feel alone. Unfortunately, for other dogs, being around people or other animals while being stuck in a crate can be very upsetting. We like to call this creating a sense of “FOMO”, fear of missing out, and this is more likely to increase the chances of them being noisy. In these instances, if it is possible, put the crate somewhere where it is not going to disturb people while your dog barks. With young puppies though, please remember to set an alarm at bedtime to go and check on them in a few hours so you can let them out to pee. Some puppies can hold it all night, but many young puppies are not able to hold it all night and we do not want them to get in the habit of pottying in their crates. So we want to make sure we are getting up to take them outside because we will not hear when they wake up and get upset because they need to go out.
Our next big tip is when you are initially starting to crate train, when possible, try to limit the amount of time in the crate. Some of us get really lucky to get a puppy from a responsible breeder or rescue who has already put some crate training into the puppy, and when that happens it's GREAT, often these people will tell you what puppy is and isn't used to, then you can begin to shape it to your schedule. Understandably, if you are gone to work during the day it will be for longer periods of time, but it is important that your puppies be let out to pee during the day. Limiting the time in the crate to start is a good way to help keep it positive for our dogs. Another thing to keep in mind is to try not to create bad habits. As we have previously mentioned, our dogs are incredibly smart and they will very quickly figure out recurring actions. If in the morning you always let them out to pee and then put them into the crate and then leave for the day you run the risk of this making them not want to go in the crate in the mornings after peeing because they know you are leaving and this is not fun for them. So try to always vary your habits, if at all possible, and be careful to not create negative connotations with their time in the crate. A great way to help make sure a crate is an enjoyable place for your puppy is to give them non-destructible toys or feed them in there. It is important to note though if you are feeding your puppy in the crate that you make sure to take them outside after they've eaten because they will need to go potty. You CAN create GOOD habits to help make the crate a good place. One thing we do, to kill two birds with one stone, is every morning we grab our dogs supplements, pupplements if you will, and we take them to our dog's crate and give them their “cookies” when they go in. Our dogs love their pupplements and have gotten to the point as soon as we grab the jar they run and go into their crates. We were very lucky with both Tori and Baron. These two learned to accept their time in the crate quite readily. Viking, due to some negative experiences early on, did not like his crate and would fight to try to not go in it and would bark and howl while in it. It took a period of 6 to 8 months before he began to accept that being crated was part of his day-to-day life and that it was not hurting him. He is now probably the best of our three at going into his crate and while he can still be somewhat vocal, he is happy to go in it and typically will go to sleep.
Lastly, sometimes the type of crate can make a difference. Some pups prefer the nice open wire crates whereas others like the hard plastic crates that are more secure and den-like. One thing to always keep in mind is making sure it is not something your pup can get out of or hurt themselves trying to get out. If you have a wire crate you can try putting a blanket over it to block their vision of stuff going on, but depending on your dog keep an eye on this so they are not pulling the blanket into the crate and eating it. Another safety issue to keep in mind with wire crates is making sure you take off their collars before they go in so that they do not get accidentally tangled up in them.
Sometimes we get lucky and we have a dog or a puppy that takes to crate training like a natural. They like the space and they will happily go into it. Sadly, other times we have a dog that just does not like the crate. In these instances, it takes time, patience, and consistency to hopefully change your dog's perception. While you may not get them to love their crate, the goal can be to get them to a point where they can be neutral and not stressed while being in it.