Do you sometimes wish that you could take a break from keeping watch over your new Australian shepherd puppy?
Even older Australian Shepherds can sometimes frustrate their owners if they have issues with potty training or destructive chewing. Crate training your rambunctious Australian Shepherd can help you to gain peace of mind and keep your dog safe all at the same time.
Crate training your Australian Shepherd is a process that you will want to take your time with to ensure its long-term success. Start slowly by introducing your dog to the crate and build up to longer time periods. Keep a consistent schedule of when your Aussie must stay in their crate and when they get breaks.
If you are ready to tackle crate training your Australian Shepherd, here are the six easy steps you need to get started.
How to Crate Train Your Australian Shepherd
Are you worried that your Australian Shepherd is going to hate his crate?
This is the initial reaction many pet owners have when they first start the process. The good news is that many dogs come to love having their own space in your home where they can retreat. It does take patience, and you should move slowly through these steps to ensure that this is a positive training experience for your pup (or older dog).
Here is everything you need to know to get started:
1. Choose the Right Size Crate for your Australian Shepherd
The first key to success is to purchase a crate that will be the appropriate size for your Australian Shepherd.
How do you know what size is the best fit? It should be big enough for them to stand up and turn around. If the crate is too big, it gives them tacit permission to potty in a far corner of the space without having to deal with the mess.
If you currently have an Australian Shepherd puppy, purchase a crate that will be the right size for their full adult size. Look for options that have dividers so that you can partition off the space they need right now and can grow into the full size.
Otherwise, you may have to get creative with blocking off the space you don’t want them to utilize.
2. Introduce your Australian Shepherd to the Crate Slowly
This is a key step toward crate training your dog. You never want to move too quickly, as it can feel forced and ruin the experience for your Australian Shepherd.
Place the crate in a room where you spend a lot of time such as your family room or home office. This gives your dog some time to get used to the idea of seeing it there, and he may even begin to investigate the crate all on his own. If he doesn’t, you can begin to introduce the crate slowly.
Walk over to the crate and speak in happy tones to your Aussie puppy. Drop a few yummy treats near the door of the crate to get your dog interested in walking over with you.
Once this is successful, move the treats to just inside the door of the crate where your Australian Shepherd will have to put his head in to retrieve them. Eventually, you will progress to tossing treats all the way to the back of the kennel.
For dogs who are not food motivated, you might try placing a favorite toy in the crate.
3. Make it Comfortable for your Australian Shepherd
This is also a great time to make sure your dog is going to be comfortable in the crate.
If your dog is already housebroken, you might be able to add a dog bed or a towel to the bottom of the kennel. However, you should avoid doing this if your dog is likely to tear it apart or use the bathroom on it.
Don’t feel bad if your Australian Shepherd cannot safely have anything comfortable in their crate just yet. It may be something you can introduce later down the line.
4. Start Kenneling your Australian Shepherd with Rewards
Now it’s time to officially start kennel training your dog.
Call your dog over to the crate, issue a command, and encourage them to enter with your hands. Never force them to enter the crate. If you need to, use food to lure them into the crate. Once they are safely in the crate, give them the food reward and shut the door gently.
Stay where your Australian Shepherd can see you while they are in the crate for these first few attempts. Sit quietly next to them for five to ten minutes before letting them out.
After you practice this way a few times, you can start to leave the room. Keep the sessions extremely short and practice them several times throughout the day. Work up to longer increments in the crate until you can leave them there comfortably for about thirty minutes.
5. Extend the Time in the Crate
Once your Australian Shepherd is comfortable staying in his crate for thirty minutes while you are home, you can start to leave them there while you are gone.
Because they will be in the crate for longer periods of time, this is a great time to start associating positive things with their crate. Instead of giving them a treat after entering, slip them a favorite toy.
Many dogs like a Kong ball that has been stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese. You can even put it in the freezer overnight so that the food will last longer for them. This takes your dog’s mind off of being in the kennel and gives them something to look forward to when you leave.
Remember that your Australian Sheperd still is not used to being in a crate all day. They need to be relieved every few hours with a bit of exercise or, at the very least, a bathroom break.
If you are crate training a puppy, they cannot hold their bladder for more than three to four hours. Set your dog up for success by planning frequent bathroom breaks.
When you return to let your dog out, be sure not to overdo the enthusiasm. You are excited to see your dog, and he is going to be excited to see you.
However, you might actually increase their anxiety over your homecoming if you get them too excited each time you return. Keep your arrival subdued and calm.
6. Sleeping in the Crate
If your goal is to have your Australian Shepherd sleep in the crate, you are now ready to tackle this. Keep the crate close to you during sleeping hours. Ideally, it would be in the bedroom with you.
This allows you to hear if your Aussie puppy needs a bathroom break in the early morning hours. For adult dogs who are just being crate trained, it means that they won’t feel so isolated and anxious while they sleep. No matter what, your dog is a social creature and he will want to be as close to you as possible.
Give your Australian Shepherd the same command you always use to ask him to enter the crate. Follow it up with a treat as usual. Initially, your dog may do some whining at night.
This can be quite annoying while you are trying to get some solid shut-eye, but do your best to ignore it. If your Australian Shepherd has already been out to go to the bathroom, they are likely just crying for attention. Don’t reward their whining with any type of attention – positive or negative.
This might also be a good time to consider covering the crate with a blanket or purchasing a crate that is a bit darker such as a flight kennel. This reduces the visual stimuli that your dog is exposed to and can help them to calm down faster.
How to Crate Train an Australian Shepherd Puppy for Potty Training
You can use all of the same tips above to implement crate training for housebreaking. Just remember that a young puppy will have a difficult time holding it for long periods of time.
You should make arrangements to take them out at frequent and regular intervals to give them an opportunity to use the bathroom. Whenever they do use the restroom outside, it is best to make a big deal of rewarding them for this excellent behavior!
Other tips and tricks to get your Australian Shepherd Puppy to stop whining in the crate include:
- Make sure they get enough exercise during the day.
- Select a crate that is big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and possibly even play with some small toys. A crate that is too small will make your dog uncomfortable while a crate that is too big may invite naughty behavior.
- Spend time getting your puppy used to the crate first.
- Keep the crate nearby so that your dog doesn’t feel so isolated and alone.
How long does it take to crate train a puppy?
There is no easy answer for how long it can take to crate train an Australian Shepherd puppy. Some Aussies love their crate and training may only take days. If your puppy is more resistant, it may be a matter of weeks. Remember to move slowly and take things in small steps.
Crate training your Australian Shepherd is an important component of being a pet owner. It ensures that your dog stays out of trouble while you are away, and it prevents them from using the bathroom in the house when unattended. Make sure to move slowly through these steps to give your pup time to get used to the new routine!
How do you crate train a puppy at night?
Crate training your puppy at night is very similar to crate training him during the day. Make sure to keep a strict routine so that your puppy goes to bed at the same time and in the same place each night.
A puppy may not be able to hold its bladder for a full night, so you should consider getting up early in the morning to let them outside to prevent accidents.
Should I ignore the puppy whining in the crate?
If your puppy has already been outside to use the bathroom, then it is generally safe to assume that they are whining simply to be let out of the crate.
Ignoring the behavior is often best. Otherwise, you run the risk of accidentally rewarding your dog for whining by releasing him from his crate.
This type of testing behavior often runs its course fairly quickly. Yelling or trying to punish the dog for whining is not likely to have the desired effect.
Does putting a blanket over a dog crate help?
Having a dark and quiet space to themselves can be a great way to facilitate crate training. Covering the crate with a blanket or a specially-made cover can be a helpful tip.
It limits some of the stimuli that your dog will be exposed to, making them less likely to react by barking or whining. Without being able to see what is going on around them, your dog is likely to be calmer while in the crate.
How do I get my puppy to stop whining in his crate?
Whining in the crate is a common problem that can drive pet owners crazy. The good news is that there are several ways to eliminate this behavior.
First, ensure that your pup doesn’t have to use the bathroom. They may be whining to tell you that they desperately need to go outside. If this has already been addressed and the whining continues, ignore the behavior.
This could be your dog’s way of testing you to see if you will pay more attention to them or release them from their crate if they get noisy.
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“Crate Training 101.” The Humane Society of the United States, www.humanesociety.org/resources/crate-training-101
“Crate Training Your Dog.” Crate Training Your Dog, Brown University, 2000, www.brown.edu/Research/Colwill_Lab/CBP/Crate.htm#:~:text=Try%20to%20ignore%20the%20whining,with%20going%20outside%20to%20eliminate
Sharpe, Shannon. “How to Crate Train Your Dog in Nine Easy Steps.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 28 Apr. 2021, www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-crate-train-your-dog-in-9-easy-steps/
“What to Do When Your Puppy Whines in His Crate.” Edited by Dr. Katie Grzyb, PetMD, PetMD, 3 June 2020, www.petmd.com/dog/training/what-do-when-your-puppy-whines-his-crate