Hugo, a Cockapoo puppy, is going to be joining our family shortly. We have decided to use a crate for night-time and for periods during the day when we can’t watch him. I have read about how we need to get him used to the crate first, before actually leaving him in it, but when should we begin this process and what do we do in the meantime?

Sue Williams advises…

It is fantastic that you have done your homework and have a plan in place about how to teach Hugo to love his crate. Of course, as you point out, a problem does arise in the initial stages while you are implementing the gradual training. Personally, I use a crate immediately. It helps me to teach a puppy how to cope when he’s alone. I like to start teaching this from the start, as if you leave it till later, the result is likely to be an overly clingy pup who falls apart when left alone. This can lead to major behavioural issues, such as separation anxiety.

Obviously, it is critical to ensure the puppy doesn’t get stressed, so you need to monitor him closely. Make sure the crate is located in a suitable position and that you make it cosy inside with nice bedding and safe toys. I find that covering the top of the crate with a cloth or blanket helps to settle the pup and make him feel more secure. Young puppies need to sleep a lot, so I plan the crate time to coincide with when they are tired, as this means they are more likely to settle and fall asleep quickly.

Combining this approach with positive reinforcement methods to acclimatise the puppy to the crate works really well and results in a happy, confident pup who loves spending time in his ‘den’.


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