German Shepherds value their personal space. As the owner of a domesticated GSD, you can provide their personal space by giving them a crate. However, you have to train your GSD to use it. Read this article featuring instructions on how to crate train your GSDs.
Crate training is a method of house training your GSD. It helps your German Shepherd puppy to adjust in his new home environment and learn appropriate behaviors. You may begin crate training your puppy when he reaches 8 to 12 weeks of age because he is usually weaned this time. It takes about 1 to 3 weeks to successfully crate train the majority of German Shepherd puppies. However, this process may be longer or shorter depending on your puppy’s personality, age, past experiences, and the way you train him.
Crate Training Benefits
It is advisable to crate train your GSD because of the following good reasons.
- A crate makes it easier to safely transport your puppy in the car for vet visits or short trips.
- A crate keeps your GSD from damaging your furniture and stuff while you’re out. It can also prevent your GSD from accidentally hurting himself.
- Crate training goes hand in hand with potty training.
- Crate training makes your puppy feel secure and comfortable day and night.
- Crate training makes your puppy respect your authority.
Crate Training Materials
Before starting the training, purchase or prepare all the necessary materials.
The crate is the most important material you have to prepare. There are several types of crates available in the market. Carefully select a crate that is comfortable enough but not too big for your GSD. You may choose the adjustable crate because you can increase the size as your puppy grows. Plastic crates and metal wire crates are good options for crate training.
- Blankets or pillows
Your crate should be comfortable enough so you have to put blankets or pillows inside. There are times your German Shepherd puppy gets anxious because he can see his surroundings but can’t interact with them. You can place a used blanket to cover the crate or you can buy a crate cover if you want. Remember not to cover all sides because your puppy needs ventilation.
- Toys and treats
To make an attractive crate, put some high-quality toys and offer treats.
- Training pads
If your GSD is still learning, he may have accidents causing leakage on your floor. You can buy training pads to prevent this.
How to Crate Train a German Shepherd Puppy
Once you’ve prepared the materials needed, you’re now ready to crate train your German Shepherd puppy.
- Once the crate is ready, introduce it to your puppy. Put the crate in an area where you and your puppy spends a lot of time such as the living room. Open the door and encourage your puppy to freely explore his crate. Make use of a command prompt like ‘place, bed, or crate’ whenever you ask him to enter his crate. Praise your puppy and offer a treat when he enters his crate by himself. If he doesn’t enter his crate, put toys near the front of his crate and wait for him to enter his crate on his own.
- If your puppy is willingly entering his crate, it’s time to proceed to the next step. Before commanding your puppy to enter his crate, prepare some treats inside his crate. Close the door when he enters his crate. Then open the door immediately after he’s done eating. Continue repeating this process while gradually extending the time before you open the door of the crate. If he whines, remove him from the crate when he stops whining. This will prevent him from thinking that whining can make you open his crate.
- When you notice that he’s not whining or complaining even though the door is closed, extend his crate time. Place toys in his crate before commanding him to enter. If he enters, praise him and feed him through the holes of the crate. Let him play there but do not leave him yet. After several minutes, go to another room so he’ll get used to staying inside the crate alone. Leave him again and slowly increase the length of time that you leave your puppy alone.
- In the evening, make sure your puppy has already eaten and relieved himself before letting him sleep in his crate. Place the crate beside your bed so he can feel secure and you can hear him if he starts to toss and turn. This is usually the time you need to take your puppy out for toilet breaks.
German Shepherd Crate Training Schedule
Your German shepherd puppy will thrive when you create boundaries and a daily schedule. The schedule may vary depending on your preference and your puppy’s age. Remember to provide potty breaks and don’t leave him alone in the crate for more than 4 hours.
- 7:00 am – Wake up and go out for a potty break
- 7:15 am – Playtime outside the crate
- 7:30 am – Mealtime
- 8:00 am – Playtime outside the crate
- 9:00 am – Potty break
- 9:30 am- Crate time
- Noon – Mealtime
- 12:30 pm – Playtime outside the crate
- 2:30 pm- Potty break
- 3:00 pm – Crate time
- 5:00 pm- Playtime outside the crate
- 6:00 pm – Mealtime
- 6:30 pm – Potty break
- 7:00 pm – Bedtime in the crate
- Never leave your German Shepherd puppy inside the crate all day. Spend enough time with your puppy to avoid separation anxiety.
- Don’t use the crate as a punishment. The crate should be associated with positive things like resting and sleeping.
- Place the crate in a quiet room during the first few days of the training so that your German Shepherd puppy won’t get distracted with excessive noise.
- Don’t allow your puppy to sleep with you in bed. Let your German Shepherd puppy sleep in the crate at night instead.
- Adjust the size of the crate to accommodate your growing puppy. Change the crate and buy the right size if it’s not adjustable. However, don’t change the crate too often to avoid confusion.
Crate training can be a great experience for you and your German shepherd puppy. You will feel more secure when you leave your puppy. At the same time, your puppy will feel secure in his place of refuge.