Crate training a puppy can take days or weeks, depending on your Doberman’s age, temperament, willingness to learn and past experiences. Crate training a puppy from a puppy mill will be very difficult as puppies from mills have already learned it is ok to eliminate in their crate.
It’s important to remember two points while crate training a puppy:
- associate the dog crate with good things
- It takes time and patients. Crate training a puppy should be accomplished in a series of small steps.
Step 1: Introduce puppy to the dog crate
Situate your crate in the family room or wherever the family spend most of its time. Line the create with a soft blanket or bedding and either remove the door of fix it open. Leave your puppy to explore the crate or maybe encourage puppy inside with a treat. Some Doberman puppies will be curious enough to enter the crate by themselves and may even curl up on the bedding and make themselves at home.
If your puppy is reluctant to enter then:
- Take your puppy to the crate and make soothing noises and small talk to reassure him.
- Encourage puppy to enter by dropping treats around and then inside the crate. As he ventures further into the crate put the treats further and further back.
- Don’t force the puppy to enter the crate. Proceed at his pace not yours.
- If your puppy doesn’t respond to treats try using a favorite toy.
This important first step to crate training a puppy may take a couple of days. Don’t rush it, be patient, give lots of encouragement and make it fun.
Step 2: Feed puppy in the crate
Once puppy is happy to venture into the crate further reinforce the pleasant association by feeding him his meals in the crate. Start just inside the doorway and progressively move the food bowl further and further towards the back of the crate.
Once he is comfortable having his meals in the crate begin to close the door while he is eating and open it as soon as he has finished. Progressively leaving the door closed longer with each successive meal. Proceed until puppy is happy staying in the crate for ten minutes after he has finished eating.
It is very important when you are crate training a puppy to not increase the time too quickly. If puppy starts to whine to be let out don’t let him out until he stops. Letting a whining puppy out of a crate rewards the whining by giving him what he wants. It teaches whining is the way for puppy to get what he wants. Let a whining Doberman out of a crate once and you’ll regret it for a long time.
Step 3: Lengthen the crating periods
Once puppy is comfortable eating in his crate you can confine him there for short periods, while you are close by.
- Call puppy over to the crate, make him sit and give him a treat.
- Direct puppy to enter the crate by giving a command such as “crate” Encourage him by pointing inside the crate with a treat in your hand.
- As soon as puppy is inside the crate, praise him, give him the treat, and close the door.
- Sit close to the crate for five to ten minutes, and then move out of sight for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, and let him out of the crate.
- Repeat several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you’re out of his sight and the time puppy is in the crate.
- Once puppy is happy in his crate without seeing you for 30 minutes you leave him crated when you’re gone for short time periods or let him sleep there at night. This may take several days or even weeks.
Step 4, Part A: Crate your puppy when you leave the house
Once puppy will happily spend 30 minutes in the crate you can begin leaving the house for short periods with him crated.
Five to ten minutes before you leave put puppy in the crate. Leave without making a fuss or saying goodbye.
When you return ignore puppy until he calms down then let him out of the crate. Continue to crate puppy for short periods when you are home so he doesn’t associate being crated with you leaving.
Step 5: Crate your puppy at night
When crate training a puppy at night it is a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby as puppies often need to go toilet during the night so you will need to be able to hear him whine. It is a good idea to have puppy close so he doesn’t associate the crate with social isolation and any time spent close to him, even sleeping will strengthen your bond. Once puppy is sleeping through the night gradually move the crate back to your preferred position in the house.