Crating Your Cockapoo: Creating A Cosy Den
Don’t think because you are crate training your puppy you’re caging him. A dog crate serves several important functions for a puppy if introduced properly into his routine. It will become a place of comfort and safety and help your puppy get used to confined spaces. Very useful in the early days when he needs transporting for trips out the house or to the vets.
What Size Crate?
Even the ‘standard’ or ‘maxi’ size Cockapoo doesn’t grow to be a large dog, but your crate will have to be large enough for him to stand, sit, turn, stretch, lie down and spread out. It’s important that the crate is well ventilated. Most are designed that way and there is a huge variety to choose from.
Place the crate in an area away from the family hubbub but not too far away so he still feels the comfort of having you close by. Here a few things that will transform the crate from being a sterile environment to a place your little Cockapoo enjoys returning to:
- Put bedding in there like a soft blanket and some chew toys
- Covering part of the crate can help make the dog feel secure and less exposed
- Always ensure he has access to clean, fresh drinking water
The Dog Crating Process
There are three important points to remember about crate training:
- Be sure to make it a positive experience
- Be patient as learning to trust the crate as his new den happens slowly
- Gradually introduce him to his new safe place
Step One: Introduction To The Crate
To begin, place the crate in an area that your puppy is used to but slightly out the way, like your living room or kitchen and leave the door open so he can come and go.
Tempt your puppy into the crate by putting some treats or chews in there. Your puppy should soon associate the crate as being a happy place where he enjoys snacks and plays with toys. If he is apprehensive be encouraging with you voice and gradually move him closer by serving up treats and petting him right next to the entrance. Soon he will find his way in there and settle. This step may take several days so be patient and don’t force the issue.
Step Two: Making it home
Once your puppy has accepted the crate you can begin to serve meals in there. And once he is safely in and enjoying his meal close the door.
Open the door again when he is finished but begin to leave the door closed a little longer each time. This will lead him to naturally rest after eating and have his first crate sleep time. If your puppy starts whining or barking or exhibiting any signs of distress you may have over-done it with the amount of time spent with the door closed.
Once step two is complete your puppy’s crate has become his den. A safe comfortable place to eat, rest and relax.
Step Three: Going Out Of Sight
Once your puppy has started to trust his new environment you can start to leave him for short periods. Just make sure when you do leave, your Cockapoo is happy with a chew stick or favourite toy and has water to drink.
TIP – Buy an activity feeder, like the popular Kong and stuff it with food mix (cheese mixed with peanut butter and crumbled dog biscuits are a popular choice) so he is happy and has plenty to chew on.
If he is struggling with being in the crate alone just sit next to him quietly for a few minutes until he is engaged with his activity feeder and then slip out the room. Return in a few minutes and just sit quietly. Repeat this routine until your puppy is comfortable being alone.
Practicing this step in the day and evening is also a good idea.
Making sure your puppy is occupied in the crate is key when he is getting used to the new environment because you don’t want him to get bored or anxious and start barking. It’s easy to fall into the trap of giving into this behaviour by letting him out. But then you are just reinforcing him barking.
Wait until there is even a momentary break in his behaviour then let him out. Like all training timing is everything!
Step Four: Moving On
You will have successfully completed step three when your puppy can be left alone inside the crate for about 30 minutes to enjoy treats. Make your re-appearance is as low key as possible so as not to create excitement. You don’t want him to be anxious waiting for your return. The way to achieve this is not reward the behaviour but rather ignore it.
When used correctly, crating helps you Cockapoo on many levels. It offers a safe place, to get away from a sometimes noisy family, have down while the family is eating their meal, and also accept some alone time without feeling separation anxiety. I recommend crating from a puppy so its accepted straight away and will maximise the full benefit for you and your Cockapoo.