Most of new Golden Retriever owners struggle with leaving their bellowed puppy alone for some period of time. It seems cruel and counterproductive to do so, but that could not be farther from truth. In fact most beneficial thing you can do for the development of your new Golden Retriever is crate training.
What Is Crate Training?
Dogs have natural instinct to search for and settle in a den, a safe place where they will sleep and eat. With crate training we use that instinct to our advantage. Step-by-step we learn our new puppy that create is that special place of comfort and safety.
Benefits of crate training
First question new puppy owner might ask is: Why should I crate train my Golden Retriever?
There is plenty of reasons why crate training your Golden Retriever puppy is a must, and we will list most important of them:
Keeping Your Puppy Safe When You Are Not In The House
Never and I mean never leave your untrained puppy home alone unsupervised. That sort of behavior can result in severe damage to your household or even in death of your puppy.
Providing Your Dog With Safe And Comfortable Place To Sleep And Relax In
As mentioned before dogs have natural instinct to search for their own special place for sleep and relaxation. With crate you provide them exactly what they need.
Preparing Your Puppy For Enjoyable Trips And Holidays With You
When fully crate trained your puppy will have no fear or anxiety traveling inside crate in car or airplane. This means you can bring your best friend with you on memorable trips and holidays.
Crate Training Is The Best Method To Potty Train Your Puppy
With crate it becomes very easy and simple to potty train your puppy. Most puppies won’t potty in the same place where they sleep. This gives you opportunity to train your puppy to go outside and potty as soon as it leaves crate.
Golden Retriever crate training: Step-by-step guide
Choosing a proper crate
First thing you need to do when you decide you want to crate train your puppy is to by a high-quality crate. Crates are usually made of either plastic or metal.
Plastic crates are required by the law if your dog travels by plane. They also provide more privacy and some dogs may feel more secure in plastic crate.
Families with young children should consider buying plastic crate.
On the other hand metal wire crates are more flexible and adjustable, using a divider you can control size of your puppy living space. They are easier to clean and offer more ventilation.
Collapsible wire crates are easier to store and transport.
Introducing The Crate
This is the crucial step in process to crate train your Golden Retriever puppy, so take your time to do it properly.
Set up crate before bringing puppy to your home, if the puppy is already member of your family assemble the crate without puppy seeing it.
Position the crate in room with the most activity, living room for example, so your puppy can see you and it won’t feel alone.
Do not make a mistake and force your puppy into the crate as this will only create aversion to the crate, even fear and that can be a very hard thing to undo.
Puppy must associate crate with good, pleasant experiences and it must go inside crate voluntarily.
Best permanent spot to position crate is beside your bed. Puppy will feel more comfortable seeing you and this will prevent crying at night. Also, you will hear him when he wakes up to take him outside.
Introducing Puppy To The Crate
As we mentioned above most important thing when you start crate training is to learn your puppy to associate crate with pleasant things.
This can be achieved by placing high value treats and toys inside crate.
- First you remove or tie door of the crate.
- Place high value treats around outside of the crate and few just inside.
- Place some toys inside crate
- Now let your puppy into the room
Now that the puppy is in the room, just act normal. Play with him, watch TV and don’t pay any attention to the crate.
Puppies are curious by nature and it’s highly likely that your new best friend will soon notice treats and toys near and inside cage.
This will entice them to investigate space around or maybe even inside crate, at the very least every puppy will eat treats you placed around crate.
Do not praise them or pay any attention to this action, just act normal and go about your business.
When puppy isn’t looking every half hour or so place some more treats inside crate, if they removed toys outside crate, place them back in crate when your puppy is not looking.
Remember, every treat you give your puppy should be subtracted from daily portions to prevent overeating.
This should be done few days before you start crate training, and then occasionally for a few weeks after start to reinforce your puppy pleasant feeling around the crate.
Feed Your Puppy Inside The Crate
Next step is to start feeding your puppy inside crate. Start by placing food bowl just inside crate as the puppy will feel more comfortable.
Next meal you place food bowl a bit further, after couple of times place the food halfway into the center of the crate.
Once your puppy is used to this place the bowl all the way back.
Play and food release endorphins and soon you will see your puppy jumping inside crate at meal time.
Use Two Cue Words Associated With Entering And Exiting Crate
Your next step should be to train your puppy two cue words, one for entering the crate and other one for leaving.
You can choose whatever words you like, all you need to watch out for is consistency. When you pick two words, for example: “Crate” – for going in crate and “out now” – for leaving the crate use them all the time and don’t change them.
Now that you have chosen two words sit near the crate with some high value treats. Show treats to your puppy and then throw one inside cage.
When puppy goes inside use your cue word: “Crate”, and praise him. Now, move away from the crate so the puppy can exit.
Wait quietly until it does so, as the puppy is leaving the cage use the cue word: “out now” and praise him again.
Do not give him treats on the way out since we want to associate crate with treats.
Repeat this action about ten times and then take a break.
After couple of minutes repeat this exercise again with another set of 10.
Do this few times a day for a day or two, until your puppy is really relaxed and comfortable going into crate.
After you are positive your puppy has successfully finished this step it’s time for another one.
Make Your Puppy Go Inside Crate Without Treats
Now you need to make your puppy go inside crate without treats. Start by repeating previous exercise with treats and cue words for a few times.
After 5th or 6th time do not throw treat inside crate but use the cue word for entering crate. When puppy enters the crate award them with a treat or two and throw in a praise party, then use the cue word for exiting crate.
Same as with previous exercise do this in two or three sets of 10 with couple of minutes break between each set.
If puppy is not reacting to the commands and wont enter the crate this means you need to go back to the first exercise and practice more before getting back to this step.
Crating Your Puppy Throughout Day And Closing The Door
After you and your puppy succeeded in two previous steps its time to set up a daily crating routine.
First thing you need to do is to make him feel comfortable when closing the crate door. Up until now all the exercises were done with crate door open or removed.
Cue your puppy inside create, award it with treats and praise it. After that sit calmly by the crate and gently close the door without any rush movements.
Throw in some more treats trough closed doors and continue to praise your puppy.
After this step open the crate doors and use the cue word for exiting cage.
Repeat this exercise for about 10 times, if your puppy is able to be in closed crate for about a minute it’s time to move on to the next step.
If puppy is reluctant to stay inside crate when you close doors(panicked, fearful) try closing the door just part of the way and then progress to fully closed bit by bit.
It’s important that you follow your dogs pace and don’t force anything.
Now set up daily crating routine. For example 15 minutes crate time after breakfast, 20 minutes after launch and 15 minutes after dinner.
Next Big Step: Move Away And Leave Them Alone
Ok, now it’s time for next big step: Moving away from the crate and eventually leaving your puppy alone.
Start by using cue word for going inside the crate. Then move just a few steps from the crate while still facing the crate, then return praise and reward your puppy.
Open the door and use the cue word for exiting the crate.
Repeat this exercise for about 10 times before extending distance from the crate by few more steps.
After you successfully managed to create considerable distance between you and the crate start walking around room looking busy and then return to reward and praise your puppy.
Do this a few times, and then try to leave the room just for a few seconds. After you return go to the crate praise and reward puppy. Repeat this exercise few times but remember to make breaks between sets to keep your puppy interested.
If puppy starts whining once you left the room do not go back until he has stopped. This will show him that his whining will get him nowhere.
Final step: Leave the House
Once your puppy is comfortable staying in crate for a period of like half an hour you can start leaving him for a short periods of time.
When you are ready to leave the house, just leave and don’t make any fuss about it. Don’t say goodbye or make this a special occasion in any case. Do the same when you return into the house, act as if nothing happened, ignore your puppy for a few minutes and only then greet him.
Once you achieved this step hard part is over and you now have crate trained puppy that is capable of staying alone in house for some period of time.
Golden Retriever Crate Training: How Long Will It Take?
There is no definite time frame for Golden Retriever crate training. Every dog is different and while some can learn very quickly others need weeks of training to be fully crate trained.
Important thing is to follow your dogs pace and don’t force things as that can set back entire training process.
IMPORTANT: Don’t Crate Your Puppy For Too Long
To stay healthy dogs need to exercise their muscles, stretch their legs and move around. For these reasons dogs should not be crated for more than 4 to 5 hours during the day.