Crate training is an effective method for providing your Australian Labradoodle puppy with a safe and comfortable space while helping them develop good behaviors and also become house-trained. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can successfully crate train your furry friend and establish a positive association with their crate. We get you jumpstarted here at Sweet Tea by initiating crate training around 5-6 weeks of age to assist your puppy's transition into your home.
1: Choose the Right Crate Select a crate that is appropriate for your Australian Labradoodle's size. It should be large enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. We advise you to opt for a crate with a divider panel, allowing you to adjust the space as your puppy grows.
2: We recommend placing the crate in a central area of your home, perhaps the kitchen, during the day. Make it inviting by adding comfortable bedding, toys, and treats inside. Leave the crate door open initially, allowing your puppy to explore it at their own pace.
3: To encourage positive association, allow your Labradoodle puppy to enter the crate voluntarily by using positive reinforcement. Toss treats or toys near the crate, gradually moving them inside. Praise and reward your puppy when they enter the crate willingly, reinforcing positive associations.
4: Another way to encourage positive association with your puppy's crate is to feed them in their crate. Start feeding your puppy inside the crate with the door open. This step further helps them associate the crate with positive experiences. You may also opt to give them their favorite chews such as bully sticks during times when they are awake and not sleepy to help establish that being in their crate can be a safe positive place whether awake or sleeping.
5: Naps. After your puppy has had a meal and has actively played with you or another dog/human and is starting to drift asleep, is a super time for your puppy to take a nap in his or her crate. Our routine is as follows: before crating, try taking your puppy outside for a potty break, they will usually go potty for you. Here at Sweet Tea starting about 6 weeks of age, we have the puppies take naps in their crates. We are not quiet and our children come and go while the puppies are napping. In addition, I work on our computer, talk on the phone, and print out materials on our printer. There is usually always something going on while they are napping, therefore, they quickly become acclimated to napping while the house is buzzing with activity.
6: Release your puppy from his/her crate after napping when you hear them cry, especially after they have napped longer than 30-45 minutes and take them outside right away.
7: Establish a nighttime routine. Our routine here at Sweet Tea with our adult dogs is simple. Go outside try to potty and move bowels if needed. Come back inside and give a command such as "go to bed" or "get in your house." While your puppy is young, you can opt to place the crate in your bedroom or bathroom if connected. We suggest if in your bedroom, place a blanket over the crate so your puppy does not have a direct line of sight. Another good place is in the hallway or an adjacent room with both doors open so you are able to hear your puppy cry if he/she needs to go potty during the night. Most of our puppies sleep through the night within 3 days or so. There is a lot of change when your puppy first comes to you so you may need to get up in the middle of the night to let them out. If that is the case, make sure it is all about potty time and your puppy should be promptly placed back into their crate after going outside. We recommend an 11 pm to 6 am sleep schedule when your puppy first comes home with a possibility of going out once trough the night the first few nights. Limiting your puppy's food and water during the evening hours (7-10 pm) also helps with elimination needs in the middle of the night.
8: Going places while your puppy is still young. For your puppy's safety, we recommend placing your puppy in his or her crate when you need to run errands during the day for up to 2 hours, but no longer if it can be avoided until your puppy reaches about 4 months of age. After that point you can gradually work up to longer periods of time during the day if necessary. Puppies are rapidly growing and changing and need to interact with you and their environment and the crate is there to help you potty train and keep your puppy safe by limiting their ability to accidentally ingest a foreign object.
9: Consistency and Patience Remember, consistency and patience are key throughout the crate training process. Avoid using the crate as a form of punishment, and never force your puppy inside. Encourage positive experiences, offer rewards, and maintain a consistent routine.
Conclusion: Crate training your Australian Labradoodle puppy can be a rewarding experience for both of you. By following these step-by-step guidelines, you can establish a comfortable and positive environment that promotes good behavior and helps your furry friend become well-adjusted and house-trained. Remember to be patient, stay consistent, and enjoy the journey of crate training your adorable Labradoodle companion.