Did you get a puppy yourself or someone give one to you recently? That is great news, but what if you are working and wondering what to do with a puppy while at work?
There is a way you can manage working a full-time job and training your pup at the same time. This method is called crate training, and it is a lifesaver for working dog lovers.
Most people say they are too busy to have a pet, but this simply isn’t true. There is a way to maintain your responsibilities and have a puppy. This guide will give you the in-depth tips and tricks for crate training a puppy while at work.
Why You Should Crate Train Your Puppy
Dogs are the cutest while they are puppies. Also, this is the period when they are easiest to train, just like children are easiest to teach while they are very young. Puppies are much easier to train and maintain than older dogs that have had no previous training.
So, you got a puppy, but you also have to work to support yourself, your family, and your canine baby. Here are some of the most basic concepts to get you started.
First of all, crate training does not equate to animal cruelty. Dogs actually like tight and cozy places.
You’ve probably noticed at least once your dog stayed under the table, the couch, chair, or your feet. They feel a sense of security and comfort in snug places. They will feel the same way in their designated crate, as long as you train them properly.
Crate training will get your dog used to living in the house without making any mess. They will also learn to be on their own while you are at work. You don’t want a big mess waiting for you when you come back home from work, do you?
Training puppies is much more than just teaching them to stay in a crate all day. You have to nurture them and build a relationship with them. This relationship must be based on mutual trust, loyalty, and respect.
Tips for Crate Training a Puppy While at Work
Needless to say, you will need a lot of patience and tolerance for your puppy, almost the same amount you would need for a baby. You shouldn’t expect any significant results straight away, as it will be a slow but rewarding process.
After you get a puppy, it would be good if you could get a few days off from work. You need to be with the puppy at first so you can train them before leaving for work.
You can’t expect them to behave properly on their own. However, there are some exceptions, notably dogs that are naturally calm and obedient.
No worries, any dog can become a good dog if you treat them and train them properly. Here are some of the crucial steps that you need to take for crate training a puppy while at work.
#1 – Introduce the Crate to Your Puppy
Your puppy needs to enjoy being in their crate if you want to train it right. You might want to put some blankets and pillows inside the crate to make it extra cozy for your little friend. Make sure the crate is spacious enough, as well.
The best way to choose the crate is to measure your dog, and then get a crate that is slightly larger. Crate sizes vary and, of course, so do puppy sizes. The most important thing is to make the crate comfortable for your pooch.
Your dog needs to feel like the crate is their new home. You can speed up the process with several tricks. Whatever you do, never use the crate as a punishment. Don’t force your puppy into the crate, always let them enter on their own.
You should only use positive reinforcement while the puppy is getting used to the crate; reverse psychology does not work on dogs. The best way to introduce the crate to your pup is if you give them some treats. At first, leave some around the crate, and let the pup sniff and explore the crate at their own pace.
You need to repeat this about five times a day. Place the treats, and step away. Your dog should soon realize that this is a good place to be.
#2 – Place Food Inside the Crate
When your dog gets familiar with the crate you can start placing food inside the crate. Use bite-sized chunks at first, and observe your pup from a distance. If the puppy eats the food, you can praise them and give them a treat.
In case your dog is resisting the food inside the crate, it probably doesn’t trust the crate yet. You have to stay patient and give them more time. When your pup starts eating inside the crate, don’t say anything until they are done.
Commands or yelling might confuse the pup. Give praise only when the pup deserves it. Your voice commands are very important for crate training. In fact, you could even name the crate. This sounds silly but it actually works.
Refer to the crate as “crate,” “home,” “bed,” etc. The dog will remember this phrase and associate it with the crate if you repeat it often enough. You can say the crate’s name after they enter it. Generally, your dog will get used to the crate easier if you repeat the phrase at least 10 times a day.
You should use these cues for at least a week. Keep using positive reinforcement and treats at this stage.
#3 – Close the Door
Closing the door is the next big step in crate training. You should only close the door for short intervals at first. After the puppy enters the crate, close the door. Then give praise to the puppy, as well as treats. Place the treats on the crate floor through the bars.
Shortly after, open the door and let your puppy out. At first, close the doors only for about 10 seconds, but gradually increase the interval. You need to do this multiple times a day, every day.
You can do it three times before leaving for work, and three times after coming home from work. Help your puppy have fun while in the crate, but don’t leave it there for too long.
#4 – Get the Puppy Used to Your Absence
Getting your puppy used to your absence is probably the hardest part of the crate training. You need to take baby steps at first. When you close the crate and give your pup a treat, move away from the crate and give them praise.
Turn around, with your back facing the puppy from a few meters away. Stay away for 10 seconds, and then return to your puppy. Give them a treat and some praise upon your return. Repeat this, but now give your puppy a toy they can chew.
Each time you repeat this process, you should go further away from the crate, for longer time intervals. However, you should remain stay visible to the puppy—maybe do some chores around the house.
The most important lesson your dog should get from the process is that it will be rewarded when you leave, and not when you come back. You have to be careful during this process. Don’t show excitement or pride if your dog is playing along.
They need to learn this is only natural, and that it will keep happening. This step of the training is very important and you should not give up until your puppy gets used to being away from you.
#5 – Leaving the Puppy Inside the Crate and Exit the Room
Finally, you reached the final training step for crating your puppy while at work. The training is easier said than done, and you should be proud of yourself and your pup. You should prepare mentally for this step because your dog probably won’t like it. You shouldn’t show weakness because the puppy will use it to emotionally manipulate you.
Yes, even little puppies are capable of playing with your feelings. Here is how you should approach the leaving part:
- Close the crate door and leave your puppy for just a few moments.
- Repeat this and, like before, each repetition should be longer than the last one.
- Keep your puppy busy with their favorite toy or a treat while you are away.
They should have fun in order to take their minds off the fact that they are alone. You can do some chores, maybe even try vacuuming or another loud activity. It is important that your dog can hear you in the other room.
You have to remain very patient during this step. It is possibly the most important step of the crate training a puppy and the one that takes the longest to sink in. All puppies are different; some might get used to your absence fast, while some might take days or even weeks.
FAQs About Leaving a Puppy in a Crate When at Work
You surely still have many questions. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding crate training while working a full-time job.
There is a time limit for how long a puppy can stay in a crate. The Humane Society suggests that pups under six months shouldn’t remain in the crate for more than three to four hours at a time. Some professional dog trainers even claim that it shouldn’t be more than two hours. In the end, it depends on your pup’s reaction.
Your puppy should be at least eight weeks old; training won’t be as effective prior to that. However, you should start the process as early as possible, because dogs learn the best and the fastest while they are young.
Puppies should not be alone for more than four hours at a time. Their bladders can’t take much pressure, and it is really unhealthy for them to stay inside for too long. They can soil themselves and the crate, creating more work for you.
Tips for Managing the Crate Training Process While Working
Things will become much easier once your puppy’s crate training is over. Until then, you might need some help. Try to stay patient and don’t lose your cool before the pup. If you are angry, they will become upset and won’t respond well to training.
It’s important to remember to not leave your puppy locked in a crate for longer than four hours. Even adult dogs shouldn’t be left alone that long; their bladders simply won’t take it. On top of that, the dog might get frustrated, anxious, and sad if you are gone too long.
You should use as many hours of your spare time to bond with your little canine. Don’t only work on its discipline and training—you should also show it plenty of love and affection. You can also play various with it, depending on its proclivities.
Dogs love to play and eat tasty treats, but what’s important is that they love you more. When you can’t make it home on time (longer than four hours), arrange for a friend to sit for your dog until you return home. It’s even better if your friend has a dog as well.
They can bring the dog along and have a playdate while you are at work. The alternative is hiring a dog sitter. There are many professional dog sitting services out there, and teens who love spending time with puppies. Always have a backup plan if you work long hours.
Take Care of Your Puppy
Dogs need a lot of care and nourishment while they are young; they don’t differ much from human babies in that regard. You can’t leave them all alone while you’re at work, because they will make quite a mess.
They will also feel sad and lonely, so it’s best to prepare them as best as you can for your absence. Crate training will help you immensely, and it will also teach your puppy to cope better with being on their own. This will come in handy later on when they grow up.
Stay patient and give your little pooch plenty of calming treats and positive reinforcement throughout the process. These are the key factors for the successful crate training of puppies.
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A big-dog lover, successful marketing executive, and website developer, Brian founded Canine Weekly in 2016. Brian lives just outside of Seattle with his wife and child. Brian grew up with labs and the family is eager to get another Labrador once their newborn is a little older. Brian is the former owner of Canine Weekly.