When a new pet first comes home with you, it’s all about love and snuggles, toys and fun. But working your new pet into your everyday routine of work, errands, and all the things you’ve got going on in your life – well, that can be a bit more tricky. Here are some tips for crate training and getting your new pet into a happy and healthy routine at home:

Crate Training – Getting Started

A crate can be a useful tool for your new pet. The goal is to create a calm, cozy, and serene place for them to rest, whether you’re at home or not. Training your pet to view the crate as a safe place can take a few days or weeks and be an extensive process. As with any other form of pet training, patience is key. 

Line the bottom of the crate with cozy blankets, pillows, and a few cuddly toys in order to create a safe space with familiar smells. Start by leaving the crate door open and allowing your pet to explore and wander over to the crate, if they choose to do so. Do not force them. It sometimes helps if you sit near the crate in the same room, in order to show them safety and comfort.

Use Treats or Food While Crate Training

Place treats or your pet’s food inside the crate or pet kennel, just inside the door. This will kindly entice your pet to investigate the crate without being afraid. Allow them to get the treats, then come back out of the crate. Praise them with lots of love and positivity. This will reinforce going into the crate.

Do the same thing a few more times, placing treats or food a little further inside the crate each time. Then reward your pet positively after they come back out on their own. Eventually, you’ll notice that your pet will start staying inside the crate for longer periods of time without being afraid. You’ll eventually be able to close the crate door for just a few minutes at a time. 

Time Periods for Crate Training

When closing the crate door, do so for only about 30 seconds. Then let your pet out and use positive reinforcement to encourage their good behavior. If your pet starts to whine and cry, it’s best to wait until they stop crying to let them out, otherwise, they’ll learn that the behavior gets them out of the crate. 

Once they’ve learned it’s safe in the crate for 30 seconds to a minute, then do the same for 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes. Once they’re comfortable with the crate for 10 minutes while you’re out of the room, you should be able to try longer amounts of time, such as 30 minutes. This will also be able to be extended to longer amounts of time, such as a few hours while you run to the store.

Helpful Hints for Pet Crate Training

  • Never leave your pet in the crate for extended periods of time, especially at the beginning. This will cause them to be fearful and not want to use the space. 
  • Place pee pads in a crate for very young puppies or older dogs who’ve never used a crate before.
  • Always leave fun and fuzzy toys, blankets, and pillows to make the crate seem like a safe and cozy place to be.  
  • Resist the urge to let your pet out when they start whining. Reward them and let them out when they’re quiet again. Otherwise your pet will learn that whining means they get to come out. 
  • Pets should not be left in the crate for more than a few hours at a time. Once you can trust pets not to go potty in the house or chew things up, the crate can become their safe space when they choose. 

Creating Routines for Your New Pet

Crate training is part of helping your beloved pet get into a routine with you and your family. Pets will learn your routine if it’s pretty consistent. They’ll learn which times of the day are crate time, feeding time, outside time, walk time, playtime, and more. All by watching you and your cues. When you have a daily routine, your pet will know what to expect and behavior should be relatively easy to manage, instead of erratic and chaotic. 

Make Things Easy for Your Pet

Having a new pet can be both rewarding and challenging. If you have questions or need assistance from a professional, please reach out to us directly at Bayside Animal Hospital. We’ll be more than happy to help you if we can or refer you to other local resources for training your new pet. Pets are family and we’re here when you need us.