First, you want the crate to be a safe space for your puppy. Do not use it as a form of punishment or time out space- this creates a negative association with the kennel. Leaving it open, in a social area of the home(think the family room) with a soft pad, a few toys and comfort items. This will help the crate seem more inviting for the pup. Puppy’s love to sleep inside of/underneath things. This is an instinctual desire self soothe and protect oneself. You want their crate to be their den- their safe haven.
Short, positive interactions are a good way to introduce the crate. Ten minute intervals, rewarding every time and especially if the dog is interested in the kennel in their own. The more comfortable they get, the more you can advance on in your training. You can place their food bowl inside/give meals in the crate, with the door open so they may leave at any time. Food = good, Food in crate= crate is good. It’s all about positive association.
⭐️ Very young puppies typically need to go to the bathroom within ten minutes of meal consumption. ⭐️ This is a good way to help start potty training as well- they are predictable. After meals and also before/after nap time, take the pup out to potty.
The size of the crate matters! You want a crate just big enough so the dog can stand, turn around, and lay down comfortably. Dogs do not like to leave their business where they sleep, this helps limit accidents in the kennel while potty training (If getting a bigger crate ensure it has a divider to grow with them. This is the most cost effective). Always potty your pup before and after kenneling.
The first night is always the hardest when crate training. Your pup was just taken from everything they know and now has no way to comfort themselves. Heartbeat toys meant for puppies and kittens are amazing! As well as a warm water bottle. This helps ease the anxiety of being on their own. I cannot stress this enough- do not let them out during their distress. Instead, sit by the crate and talk in a soothing voice. Let them know everything is okay, reward them when they settle down. If you have to, reach in and pet the pup until they calm down. If you continually let them out during the night you are going to condition them that throwing a temper tantrum gets them what they want…and soon you’ll have an unruly teenager on your hands! You can keep the crate next to your bed in attempts to help soothe a very young pup. As the puppy gets older and more comfortable, start moving the kennel further and further away.
When putting the puppy down for the night- consider the energy left and the last potty break/consumption of fluids. If you let your pup drink a lot just before bedtime, they will need more potty breaks through the night. If they did not receive adequate mental and physical stimulation through the day, they will be more restless and so on. Establish a routine. Dogs thrive on them. Feed the puppy a couple of hours before kenneling for the night so they have time to wind down, give them a short walk to tire them out from sniffing, etc.
Never, ever, ever put your dog in a crate wearing a collar or harness. They should always be naked. Over the course of twelve years in the industry have known three dogs whom have got caught up and strangled themselves. Just don’t risk it.
Some people say they will never need to kennel their dog- this is very much so not predictable. Vet clinics use kennels after procedures- emergency or routine. If you’re ever in an accident and your dog is with you, the response team is going to secure your dog somehow while you are transported- typically on a slip lead or in a kennel. Many groomers, unless one on one, use kennels if you are not there for prompt pick up(some use them regardless). Crate training can be a wonderful tool for a dog when they are scared as their crate is their safe space. Anxious dogs tend to be taught if they are feeling uneasy they should go lay down in their “house”. This helps them feel secure. If your dog ever undergoes a CCL injury or ligament issue- being able to crate them for their own self preservation is key to proper healing. Crates are a godsend in emergencies.
I hope this helps answer some questions!