The Humane Society of the United States recommends crate training as a way to keep your puppy safe and secure while they’re sleeping or while you’re not at home. This is especially important if you have a new puppy. It’s still not aware of its new environment and you do not want it to hurt itself while exploring the house in the night.
In this sense, a puppy crate is like a temporary house for your dog. After all, they’ll be spending quite a bit of time there throughout the day, at night, or even while travelling. Your pup needs to feel comfortable when it’s housed in there.
Because a dog’s crate is like a second home, you’ll also need to consider how you can make the space a safe space for your pup. It’s first imperative that you choose the right crate for your dog’s size. Choosing a crate that allows your dog to stand up, sit down, and lie down easily is crucial. Aside from that, however, what else do you need to consider or include in the crate?
You have to ask yourself the question, “How can I make my puppy’s special home more comfortable and secure?” By asking yourself that question, you’ll be able to start finding some answer as to what else you can put in a puppy crate to make crate training a more pleasurable experience.
Here are a few ideas…
Some Basic Crate Training Tips
It’s important to understand that you might have to change the space up a bit depending on your use of the crate.
If you’re using the crate as a playpen of sorts for your puppy while you’re away at work, then you’ll need to include lots of interactive toys and even a space for a food or water bowl. However, if your goal is to use the crate as a place to help your dog sleep soundly at night, you won’t want to be throwing in any tempting toys, of course!
Also, if your puppy is fairly new to crate training, it’s important to ease them into the process and give them time to adjust to the crate. It can be a scary place for a tiny pup, and letting them get used to being “closed” inside of it will require that you make it a fun place to be in and that you only keep them there for about 30 minutes at a time to start with.
In general, your puppy should see its crate as a safe space that it associates with comfort, pleasure and coziness. Crate training your puppy might take time, effort, patience and perseverance, but it is indeed worth it.
What Do You Put in a Puppy’s Crate?
Now that you know why you should be crate training your puppy, your next question might, so what do you put into the crate so your puppy does not get bored? Depending on your puppy’s personality, and the reasons behind using a crate, what you choose to put inside a puppy crate will vary. Let’s start with a few things to avoid.
What NOT to Put in a Puppy Crate?
First and foremost, we recommend avoiding towels and blankets made of materials that a puppy could reduce to shreds. This is a choking hazard if they end up swallowing them, and that’s a big no-no anytime, but especially if you’re not going to be there to monitor their behaviour.
If you are using the crate as a place to allow your puppy to sleep soundly throughout the night, we recommend that you avoid including any toy aside from their main “comfort” toy (you know, the one that they carry around with them that makes them feel safe and secure but definitely not the squeaky ones!). Also, avoid giving them too much space in the crate at night as it might encourage them to play or even use the space for releasing itself.
What about their collars? Most responsible dog owners remove their dog’s collar before putting them in the crate or any cage as it can sometimes get caught on the metal bars. If they’ll be sleeping in the crate, they’ll be more comfortable without the collar anyway.
Which Toys to Put in a Puppy Crate?
Let’s refer back to a statement we made above as it’s extremely important to consider when “decorating” your puppy’s crate. Remember that your puppy should always perceive a crate as a pleasant place to be. This means that it shouldn’t feel “scary,” dark, or overwhelming for them.
So what’s the easiest way to ensure it’s a pleasant place?
Include lots of toys but only when the crate is to be used in the daytime! Also, be careful when choosing the toys as it’s important to pick durable ones that are appropriately sized for your puppy’s mouth. If your dog is spending a lot of time in its crate during the day, opt for more interactive toys, which might include:
● A Kong ball! This is a favourite for a reason. You can fill the Kong ball (which they sell in puppy sizes) with puppy-safe cheese, peanut butter, or treats. Freeze the Kong and then give it to them to play with. It’ll entertain them for hours.
● Interactive dog puzzles. There are many different types of these kinds of interactive dog toys, but they’re usually filled with holes and hidden boxes. You’ll place a treat in the holes, and your dog will have to sniff to search them out.
● Talking balls. If your puppy feels lonely while in its crate, get them something called a “babble ball.” Whenever they interact with it, it’ll chirp, growl, buzz, and make other sounds that will help them feel less lonely and activate their brains through play.
What Kinds of Blankets to Put in a Puppy Crate
As mentioned above, it’s important to avoid putting any type of material in the crate that your puppy could potentially chew and shred. Because puppies like to keep warm, we suggest opting for a fleece blanket or a waterproof pad that you’re able to clean easily. If you want to double up on safety, put puppy pee pads below the waterproof pad and then top it off with the fleece blanket.
If your puppy is experiencing bouts of separation anxiety, it can be helpful to include an item of your clothing that smells like you. A rolled-up shirt that you’ve slept in recently can double as a blanket and will provide them with comfort when they’re alone while you’re at work.
Anxious puppies and hyperactive puppies might also do well with some calming scents. Lavender, Bergamot, Frankincense, and Ylang Ylang are all great, calming scents that will help your puppy feel relaxed while it’s in its crate. You can drop a little of these scents on the blankets. Be careful not to put too much!
Should You Put Food Inside of a Puppy Crate?
If you are leaving your puppy at home for long periods (during the day while you work, for example), then we recommend leaving food and water for them.
We also recommend feeding them inside of the crate if they’re new to crate training as it can help them grow more comfortable with the space. Eventually, they’ll associate the crate with a happy place where they get to eat!
If, however, you are using the crate as a way to potty train your puppy at night, we don’t advise leaving water in the crate. Leaving water inside of their crate at night will only increase the chances that they’ll need to be let out to pee in the middle of the night; this is inconvenient for you, and it also disrupts their sleep schedule.
Learning what to put in a puppy crate is only part of the problem of training your tiny new furry family member. After creating a space for them to relax and feel safe in, you’ll need to ensure that you’re training the puppy properly in other areas, such as how to prevent puppy barking at night while sleeping in their crate and preventing them from biting.
Initially, you may find that it’s a lot of work helping them get used to living with you, but over time, you’ll find that it’s worth it. You’ll get lots of joyous time with your new furry friend.