How to Start Crate Training Your Puppy

Updated: Apr 12



Breaking Crate Training Into Steps:


(If you're indoors and have enough room, begin by removing your dog’s leash.)

Your initial training goal is simple—you just want to get your dog comfortable with the idea of the crate. With your dog next to the crate, use either your marker word or clicker, as well as a treat, to mark and reward your dog for simply looking at the crate. This builds an association for your dog between the crate and being rewarded.


Next, begin opening and closing the door of the crate to get your dog used to the movement. If they give you a positive reaction, mark this and give them a treat.


Your first real task of this training will be to get your dog to start moving inside the crate. Usually this begins with small steps like poking their nose or paws inside. Mark this behavior and reward them with a treat.


Starting to Close the Crate.


Once your dog has become more comfortable with the idea of their crate, you can begin tossing treats inside to get them to move their whole body inside. While you have already tossed their treat inside the crate, it’s important not to mark the behavior until they have at least partially made their way inside the crate.


When your dog has begun stepping completely inside the crate, begin closing the door for a moment and then treating them. This will continue to reinforce the association between being inside the crate and being rewarded.

 

Related Article:

The Science of Service Dogs: How Trained Service Dogs Help Veterans with PTSD

 

Training and Nurturing Puppies at Project 2 Heal:


At Project 2 Heal, we breed Labrador Retriever puppies for the purpose of donating these animals at 8 to 12 weeks of age to one of our partner organizations. From there, our puppies are trained extensively in service dog work and matched with an individual in need.


Our process begins with Early Neurological Stimulation, which are exercises conducted during the first two weeks of life—beginning at only 48 hours after birth!—that slightly stress the puppy's nervous system and allow them to become less reactive to novel stimuli as adults. This process includes the following:

  • Tactile stimulation: Stimulating puppy paws through touch our tickling.

  • Holding the head of the puppy erect.

  • Holding the head of the puppy pointed downward.

  • Supine position: Resting the puppy on its back in the palm of hands.

  • Thermal Stimulation: Placing feet of puppy on top of a cool, damp towel and allowing the puppy to move about.

Service Dog Scent Training:


Also occurring during the first 14 days, service dog training includes a process called early scent introduction. This training exposes dogs to smells it will encounter during working life. During this process, trainers pay close attention to the way puppies react to various smells. This helps identify which puppies may not be suited to work as a service dog.


Service Dog Clicker Training:


Championed by Karen Prior Academy, clicker training service dogs is a method that teaches puppies about associations. Puppies learn commands through a combination of rewards and clicking sounds. During service dog training, high-level tasks are broken into smaller tasks, after which puppies are rewarded with food and stimulated with sound from a handheld clicker.


Eventually food and clicking sounds are phased out so that puppies are able to execute tasks upon command.

 

Our mission is to reduce the cost and time necessary to place a service dog with a veteran, child with Autism, or adult with disabilities.

 

How Can You Help Further Our Mission?

When you donate only $5 per month, your contribution covers important expenses, including:

  • First vet visit for entire litter

  • 50 pounds of high-quality dog

  • 1 puppy eye exam

  • 6 bags of high-value reward training treats

  • 1 puppy-in-training service dog vest

As you can see, there are a number of ways that $5 monthly donations can make a real impact at Project 2 Heal. With an average cost of $5,000 to raise and train a puppy litter of puppies through the first 8 weeks of life, we'd love for you to join us on our mission.


Click below to become a donor at any level that works for you. We need your help to raise puppies and change lives.

 

$5 Monthly Donors


Our bread and butter (or should we say, "kibble?"), these donors cover items listed above, including first vet visits!


I Want to Cover Vet Visits!


$10 Monthly Donors


Each of our $10 monthly donors feeds an entire litter from birth to donation. (That's a lot of puppy food!)


I Want to Cover Vet Visits!


$25 Monthly Donors


$25 a month prevents fleas and ticks for a pup. With 30+ puppies expected in 2021, these donors mean the world!


Fleas and Ticks? Eww!