Traveling with a new puppy can be an exciting experience, but it’s important to have them settled in and ready prepared before you go. If flying, all dogs and cats must travel in IATA-compliant pet crates or carriers. It is always recommended to restrain your pet when driving, not only for its safety but for the safety of the driver and passengers as well.
Crate training your puppy can help give it a space of its own and will let them feel safe when traveling and also secure in a new location.
Puppies will naturally try to find a space for themselves that’s secure and enclosed, where they can rest and feel safe. Crate training a puppy can help to meet that need by giving your puppy their own private area, as well as letting you establish boundaries early on.
Why Crate Train Your Puppy
Crate training is a popular method for many reasons:
- Makes travelling with your puppy easier
- Encourages good behaviour
- Affordable and easy for your puppy to understand
- Helps your puppy settle into a new location
- Keeps your puppy safe when unsupervised or when you have visitors
- Reassures your dog that they are behaving well
- Can help your puppy feel safe during storms
Training Your Puppy
Crate training a puppy takes time and patience, but by going slowly, your puppy should become gradually more comfortable with staying in the crate. It’s important to make crate training a positive experience for your puppy. Giving them treats for going to the crate and staying inside can reward and encourage their behaviour. Making the crate comfortable and throwing in some toys and a “used” t-shirt with your scent on it, can also help to make it an appealing space. Be sure and keep the door open until your puppy has used the crate for several weeks.
You can try playing some fun games with your puppy using the crate. This will let them know that the crate isn’t just for being left alone in but can also be a different type of space. Bringing your puppy away from loud environments to the crate can also help them to associate the crate as a peaceful and relaxing space.
Once your puppy is familiar with the crate you can start slowly increasing the time they spend inside, making sure to give plenty of treats for good behavour. Eventually you can have them spend a night sleeping in the crate, but be prepared to let them out to pee first thing in the morning. As a general rule, puppies can hold themselves for up to one hour for every month of age, although play and excitement can reduce this time.
Choosing a Crate
Your dog’s size is one of the most important considerations when selecting a crate. The ideal crate size is small enough that your pet won’t urinate in it but large enough so that they can stand up and comfortably turn around. When buying a crate for your puppy, make sure to purchase one that will accommodate its size when it’s fully-grown. While they’re growing you can reduce the space inside the crate by adding a divider.
Travel crates are great option for training your puppy, as they will eventually become comfortable with the crate and won’t be as worried when it is used for travel.
The ideal location for your dog’s crate while training is in a room where your family spends a lot of time together, such as the kitchen or living room. You can also shift it to your bedroom when you go to sleep at night.
What Not to Do
It’s important to never use the crate as punishment, as you want it to become known as a positive place. If your dog associates the crate with a bad experience they will avoid it as much as possible.
Remember not to leave your dog in their crate for longer than necessary. They’re social animals and need breaks to stretch their legs. Plan to let your dog out for several bathroom breaks during the day as well as during play and feeding times.
While crate training can help your puppy adjust to travelling, it’s not a fix for issues like barking or separation anxiety. If your puppy experiences these issues, it’s important not to rely on crate training as a solution and instead consult a professional dog behaviourist.
Crate training can be a great method for encouraging good behaviour as well as protecting your pet. With the right preparation and a little persistence, your pet’s crate can become their favourite place.