Crate training your Labradoodle puppy doesn’t have to be a stressful or frustrating process. In fact, proper crate training can lead to a Labradoodle that loves spending time in their crate, and will go there willingly – even sometimes when you don’t ask! However, crate training takes time, and shouldn’t be rushed. With small steps, and positive reinforcement, you can turn your puppy’s crate into a great training tool.
But, if you’re still unsure whether you want to crate train your Labradoodle puppy, or aren’t sure how to go about starting, you can keep reading for more information.
Crate Training Your Labradoodle Puppy
Whether you’re a new dog owner, or you’ve had dogs throughout your life, you’ll know that crate training can be a controversial subject. Some owners will swear by their dog’s crate. They praise it as a wonderful tool and somewhere that their Doodle feels safe and happy. But, others may argue that it is a cruel tool, used to cage dogs.
In truth, it will all depend on how an owner uses their crate. It is definitely possible to misuse a dog’s crate. Or to turn it into a place your dog hates. But, at the same time, when used correctly, your Labradoodle puppy can love their crate. They can use it as their own safe space away from the noise of everyday family life.
Many new owners purchase a crate with the hopes of keeping their Labradoodle puppy in it overnight, and when they’re out of the house. However, crate training isn’t as simple as just leaving your puppy in the crate and hoping for the best. In fact, doing so can lead to a very unhappy and stressed puppy. Especially if they’ve only just come home with you at 8 weeks of age. So, before you start crate training your puppy, it’s important that you know exactly when and what a crate should be used for. Let’s take a look.
What is Crate Training?
A dog crate is simply an enclosed bed area for your Labradoodle puppy. Over time, with the right training, owners can leave their dogs in their crates when they’re going out. Or when their puppy needs some sleep. For many dogs, a crate will be a safe and secure area where they can take themselves to relax and wind down.
Many owners will use a crate at night, when sleep training their puppy. This ensures their puppy is safe at night, but also not causing havoc through the house! However, crates can also be used throughout the day to encourage your puppy to get some much needed sleep in those early months. Or to help them calm down if they get overexcited.
On top of this, a dog crate can be a very useful potty training tool. All dogs will try to keep their sleeping area and their potty area separate. So, when you’re trying to increase the amount of time between toilet trips in those early weeks with your new Labradoodle, putting them in their crate is a great way to do so. If this is something you’re interested in, it’s important to choose the right size crate. Choosing one that’s too large can result in your puppy using one end as a bathroom, and one end as a bedroom! But, more on this later.
Pros and Cons of Crate Training Your Labradoodle Puppy
Still not sure whether crate training is right for you and your new Labradoodle puppy? Well, now we’re going to summarise the pros and cons to help you decide. Ultimately, it’s each dog owner’s decision as to what is best for their puppy. Remember, you are best placed to know what is right for your Doodle!
Pros of Crate Training
- Can keep your Labradoodle out of mischief and safe when you leave them alone for short periods
- When done correctly, will be a safe and comforting place for your Labradoodle
- Offers somewhere quiet and calm for young puppies to get some rest throughout the day
- Can be a very useful potty training tool
- Can make travelling with your Labradoodle a lot easier
Cons of Crate Training
- If misused, a crate can be a stressful and frightening place for a puppy, eg. if they are kept locked away for long periods
- Puppies may go to the toilet in their crate if you choose the wrong size
- A properly sized crate for an adult Labradoodle will take up a lot of space in your home
- Crate training is a long process, and if rushed can lead to stress and unwanted behaviors, like crying and barking
- Crates are not a substitute for proper obedience and potty training, just a tool that can help with these
Hopefully this brief summary of the main pros and cons of crate training your Labradoodle puppy will help you to decide if it is right for you. If you’re choosing to crate train your Doodle, it’s important to go about it the right way. So, next, we’ll talk about how to crate train your Labradoodle puppy through the day, at night, and how to use a crate as a potty training tool.
How to Crate Train Your Labradoodle Puppy
Before you start learning how to crate train your Labradoodle puppy, it’s important to choose the correct crate. And, of course, your puppy is a very different size now than he will be in a few months. The best method here is to choose a crate that should be the right size for an adult Labradoodle.
Try to estimate how large your puppy is going to grow. You can contact your breeder to find out the size of the puppy’s parents for help estimating. Then, buy a divider for your crate, so that you can section off a smaller section for your puppy to use. Your puppy needs enough room to stand, sit, and turn around comfortably. But any larger than this and your pup may end up using one end of the crate as a toilet area.
I’ve Got My Crate – Now What?
Once you have the right size crate, you can get started making your puppy’s crate a happy place to be. In the first few days of your puppy being home with you, this can be achieved easily! Leave the crate door open so your puppy can go in and out as they please. And, when they aren’t looking, pop some pieces of kibble inside for them to find next time they go in. It’s important that your puppy doesn’t see you doing this! Soon enough, your puppy will be willingly going into their crate, and associating it with something that makes them feel great – treats!
You can continue this for as long as you’d like, as your pup will never dislike finding surprise treats in their crate. But, to move on, you can pop your puppy in the crate and close the door. First, open it immediately and treat your puppy for sitting quietly inside. At this stage, there’s no chance of your puppy crying, as you won’t be closing the door for long enough. Once your puppy is happy and comfortable doing this, you can progress to shutting and locking the crate door, before opening it and treating your puppy. And, once your puppy is okay with this, you can slowly increase the length of time that the door is closed before opening and treating.
Tips for Increasing Duration
It’s important that you don’t increase duration too quickly. Doing so can cause your puppy to be stressed and upset. A stressed puppy is no fun for anyone. If your puppy seems stressed at any point in this process, simply go back a step and reduce the duration.
On top of this, you should mix up the lengths of time that you leave your puppy alone, so they don’t expect duration to just get harder. For instance, one time leave then for two seconds, then increase to five seconds, then drop back down to three. Keep your puppy on their toes so that duration doesn’t become too predictable!
You can also put your puppy in their crate through the day before they go to sleep for one of their regular naps. Puppies need a lot of sleep when they’re young, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities for this. Just make sure to put them in the crate before they’re asleep, so they don’t wake up and get a nasty shock being somewhere they don’t expect! Overall, our aim is to make the crate a wonderful and happy place for your puppy to relax.
What If My Labradoodle Puppy Starts Crying?
If your puppy starts crying, it can be a sign that they’re feeling stressed out, or that they’re nervous. However, it’s important not to reward crying, as puppies can easily learn that crying gets them some attention! So, how are you meant to fix things if your puppy starts crying?
Well, as we said a moment ago, if your puppy is stressed out and crying when you increase the duration of shutting them in their crate, it could be that you’ve moved too quickly. Instead, move back a step, and increase the duration more slowly, for instance only a second longer.
If you’re quite far through the process, such as being able to shut your puppy inside the crate and take a few steps away, but your puppy starts crying, it’s important to go back and let them out – but only when there’s a break in the crying. Letting them out when they’re crying can lead to more crying in the future, whenever your puppy wants your attention, or wants to come out of their crate. A break of a few seconds is all that’s needed.
If your puppy is getting visibly distressed, it may be a good idea to give the training a break for a while. Go and play a game with them, or work on some different training to let them calm down, then come back and try again with crate training in a bit.
How Long Does it Take to Crate Train a Labradoodle Puppy?
No matter what breed you have, crate training is a lengthy process. Teaching your Labradoodle to genuinely be happy when left alone in their crate isn’t something that will happen overnight. At first, the increase of duration before you let your puppy out and treat them will be seconds, not minutes or hours! And, increasing this duration too quickly can lead to a puppy that hates being in their crate.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that puppies are individuals. Some may take to crate training much faster than others. For some owners, the process could take a couple of weeks. But, for others, it may take months before they can leave their puppy alone in the crate with no issues.
It’s important that you move at your own puppy’s pace. Don’t worry about comparing the timeline to other puppies you know. Even if this process takes a little longer for you and your Labradoodle, taking it slowly will be worth it in the long run. Ultimately, it’s better to spend a little longer on crate training now if it means you’ll have an adult Labradoodle that feels safe and comfortable in their crate when you need to put them inside in the future.
Crate Training a Labradoodle Puppy at Night
Crate training a Labradoodle puppy at night and through the day is a little different. Generally, many puppies are happy to sleep in a properly sized crate at night, and they may be used to doing so at their breeder’s home.
However, during their first few nights with you, they will be scared and unsure of their surroundings. So, it’s a great idea to have the crate somewhere that your puppy can see you. You can also ask your breeder for a toy or blanket that smells like your pup’s mother and siblings, to offer them a bit of comfort through the night. Being close to you will reduce the chance of your puppy crying through the night.
Although many puppies will be perfectly happy to sleep in a crate at night, this doesn’t mean they will automatically sleep through the night. Puppies have very small bladders, and you will need to take them outside multiple times, especially in those first few weeks. Your alternative is to place puppy pads at one end of a large crate. If your puppy cries throughout the night, it could be a sign that they need to go to the toilet. So, listen out for those signs if you’re choosing to potty train your puppy in the yard.
Dog Crates as a Potty Training Tool
Throughout the day, a crate can be a great tool for potty training your puppy. Labradoodle puppies, like any other puppies, have very small bladders in their early age. Some may need toilet trips outside as often as every 20 minutes! But, as time goes on, you can start to extend the breaks between these trips by using your crate.
Puppies don’t like to pee in their sleeping area. So, if it’s coming up to the end of your pup’s usual toilet break capacity, pop them in their crate for five minutes. This way, you can extend the break between potty training breaks, and encourage your puppy to learn how to hold on until they’re outside.
It’s important to note here that you should only ever try to extend this break in small amounts. It would be cruel to put your puppy in their crate and expect them to hold on for long periods, even for as little as fifteen minutes when they’re young. Like all other parts of crate training, small steps are key here for building a strong level of trust between you and your puppy, and for successful training.
Alternatives to Crates
Not everyone likes the idea of putting their Labradoodle puppy in a crate, even though many dogs will feel like they have their own little den. And that’s fine, it’s not for everybody. However, it’s still important that your puppy has a safe area where you can leave them at night and when you need to go out of the house without your dog.
As an alternative to a puppy crate, you could invest in a puppy pen. This will give your puppy room to move around, to play, and more, which a crate does not. Many pens are large enough for you to put a bed inside, a water bowl, and even some puppy pads for potty training purposes. However, despite this extra room, puppies will still need time outside of the pen to interact with you, socialize, exercise through games, and stimulate their brains.
Baby gates on doorways are another alternative you might want to consider. This way, you can puppy proof an entire room for your pup to have access to.
If you choose either of these two alternatives, you will still need to work hard at training. Particularly at training your puppy to be happy when left alone in their pen or room. This will still be a slow process, like crate training. So, just because you use an alternative, don’t expect that training will be any faster or easier. If you’re struggling with any aspect of puppy training, you should take a look at the training courses on our sister site. The Puppy Parenting course is ideal for learning how to crate train, among other important puppy training goals.
Crate Training Your Labradoodle Puppy
Have you decided that crate training is the right step for you and your Labradoodle puppy? When done properly, crate training can be great, and can offer your puppy a safe and comfortable place of their own to relax. But, make sure you increase duration in the crate very gradually, so that your puppy never feels trapped or distressed when inside. Do you have any other Labradoodle crate training tips?
References and Resources
- Ackerman, L. ‘Pet Specific Care for the Veterinary Team’, Wiley (2021)
- Martin, D. (et al), ‘Problem Prevention’, Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses (2014)
- China, L. (et al), ‘Efficacy of Dog Training With and Without Remote Electronic Collars vs. a Focus on Positive Reinforcement’, Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2020)
- Hiby, E. (et al), ‘Dog Training Methods: Their Use, Effectiveness and Interaction with Behavior and Welfare’, Animal Welfare (2004)