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Does the thought of crate training your German Shepherd make you want to run screaming?
Are you imagining your puppy crying to get out of their crate all night while you stress over what to do?
It doesn’t have to be this way!
I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to crate train a German Shepherd puppy stress-free and have a happy puppy.
Should German Shepherds be crate trained?
Yes, German Shepherds should be crate trained. Exposing your dog to a crate is a necessary life skill. They will be in and out of kennels during their lives, such as at the groomers or vets. Teaching them crate skills makes them less stressed in new situations and gives them a comfortable place to rest and sleep that they enjoy.
You aren’t required to crate train your GSD pup, but it’s a great skill for them to learn.
Crates for German Shepherds are:
Made with safety and comfort in mind.
Constructed of chew-proof sides.
Built with plenty of ventilation.
Comfortable for your dog when trained to them.
A crate is not a dog prison!
Don’t shove your pup or dog inside as punishment! Never put your dog inside and slam the door out of anger or spite.
Don’t use the crate any longer than needed.
If you use the crate longer than you really need, your GSD will:
Begin to have anxiety.
Refuse to go into the crate.
Will protest with other unwanted behavior (like urination and excessive barking – source).
Use the crate positively for the appropriate times and your puppy and dog will enjoy their time inside.
How long can you leave a German Shepherd puppy in a crate?
You can leave a German Shepherd puppy in a crate for only 2 to 3 hours or fewer when they are 8 to 12 weeks old. They can sleep in a crate overnight if they are let out every few hours to potty.
But keep in mind they will have an accident if you keep them in their crate for too long without a break.
German Shepherd Puppies and Crate Training Times
Average Time a Puppy Can Hold Their Bladder
Check the age of your German Shepherd puppy to see how long they can hold their bladder before you expect too much from them.
However, just because a puppy can hold their bladder in the crate for as long as the table shows, this doesn’t mean you SHOULD crate them this long. Puppies need to interact with you, explore their environments, play, and stretch.
WARNING: Excessive crating leads to mental and physical stress and unwanted behaviors. The crate is used as a temporary tool, not as a full-time containment system.
Is crate training your German Shepherd effective?
Yes, crate training your German Shepherd is very effective.
The crate uses the fact that dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep and helps with bladder control because it encourages a dog to wait until they are out of the crate to eliminate.
Remember, using the crate effectively means:
You must learn to spot the signs your pup needs to take them outside or to their potty pads.
You must not force your pup to “hold it” any longer than necessary.
You must take your pup out at regular intervals overnight because they aren’t able to physically hold their own bladders.
If you don’t let him out soon enough before soiling his kennel, he may develop the habit of always soiling his kennel.
Why a crate training a German Shepherd puppy is great!
Have you thought of all the ways your dog will be exposed to a crate in their life?
There are many benefits to crate training your German Shepherd puppy.
As a secure and safe hideaway.
Your dog needs a place to call his own. A place away from the busy family to relax. The kennel provides your puppy or dog a safe spot to find comfort.
You will need to move your dog safe to travel around town. Maybe you plan to take your puppy with you on a road trip or vacation. The kennel gives you an area to secure your pup safely for travel or transport.
For protection from damage and destruction.
Your dog will go through a chewing stage. The stage may last through puppy-hood. To protect your belongings and keep your puppy safe, the kennel works wonders.
To speed up the house and potty training.
A crate almost guarantees quicker success by building upon a puppy’s need to not soil where they sleep or eat.
Choosing the Right Location
After you buy the correct size crate for your GSD, you need to place it in a safe area.
Some areas will help your dog feel more secure and allow them a comfort zone. While the location you choose is personal there are some common ideas to keep in mind.
Follow these tips to find the best place for your dog’s crate:
Pick a spot that isn’t in drafts and maintains a steady temperature.
Temperature changes are uncomfortable for your dog. Too hot or too cold areas could make them sick.
Don’t place the crate right below a bright window.
When the sun stays on the same spot for a while, it can get very hot and cause heat sickness in your dog.
Place their crate in a corner of a family room, out of the main pathway of foot traffic.
Your dog wants to spend time with you whenever it can. Don’t put their crate in a room you hardly ever use.
Easy Step-by-Step German Shepherd Puppy Crate Training
To get your dog used to their new dog den you need to expose them to it slowly and using positive techniques.
Once you place the kennel in your preferred location and set up comfortable bedding inside, use these steps to introduce the kennel to your dog.
Want to know the right crate for a German Shepherd puppy that’ll grow with your dog and save you money?
How to Crate Train a German Shepherd Puppy Step-by-Step Chart and Guide
If you want to be sure you know how to crate train a German Shepherd puppy, then follow these easy steps. Remember, a crate is new and unusual for most puppies, so take your time and always stop when your dog looks scared or shows fear of the crate training.
What to do
Use baby steps and go slowly letting your GSD pup get used to their crate.
2. Offer them meals
Provide them a few meals either very near or inside their crate for a positive association with their new crate.
3. Increase time inside
Gradually lengthen the time you leave your pup inside their crate, but be sure to not let them panic or you’ll ruin your hard work.
4. When you leave
As they spend more time inside their crate, work on leaving them alone for very short periods.
When you follow these easy steps you’ll know how to crate train a German Shepherd puppy in no time!
Step 1: Introduce Your German Shepherd to Their New Crate
Spend about 5 minutes, two to four times a day, introducing your dog to their special kennel.
Familiarize your dog with the kennel by tossing a high-value food reward near the crate to entice them.
Let them explore the kennel and go in and out freely on their own.
Don’t shove your dog in and close the gate!
Some dogs can take days of introductions before they’re comfortable going inside. A fun, squeaky toy tossed inside can sometimes help them explore their crate.
Step 2: Feed Your German Shepherd Inside Their Crate
When your dog has sniffed the crate and wandered in and out multiple times, offer them a meal inside with the door propped open.
As they’re eating in their kennel, keep the door propped open.
Offer several meals, in the same way, to show your dog a kennel is a safe place.
After a few meals inside and when they are comfortable eating, begin to quietly and softly close the door. But let them out once their meal is over.
The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal and don’t keep them inside their crate any longer. With each following meal, leave the door closed a few minutes longer each time until they’re in the crate for 10 minutes after finishing their meal.
If they whine, then you’ve increased the time too quickly. Next time, leave them in the crate for a shorter period. If they still whine, don’t let them out until they’re quiet for 10 to 30 seconds. This way you reward them for staying quiet, instead of whining.
Step 3: Increasing Your Dog’s Time Inside their Crate
Begin leaving them in for longer periods, building up time slowly.
Call them over to the crate with a command, such as “crate” or another word you choose. When they enter, toss them a treat as a reward.
Close the door quietly and sit in the same room as them for 5 to 10 minutes. You can even sit calmly next to the crate while dropping food into it occasionally. Lessen the times you drop in treats until you’re not dropping any treats inside for 10 minutes.
Now, go to another room for a few minutes to leave them alone. When you return, don’t let them out immediately. Instead, sit in the same room again for a few minutes before releasing them.
Increase the time you leave them alone in the room and repeat the previous step upon your return to them. Once you work your way to leaving them in their crate for about 30 minutes, begin leaving them in their crate while you leave your house.
Step 4: Crating Your German Shepherd When You Leave the House
Leave the house for a short time with them in the crate using the same process above to call them to the crate.
Call your dog to their crate anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes before you want to go so they have time to settle in their crate and relax.
Don’t make a fuss about leaving. Don’t get excited or coddle them with hugs and kisses, as this only excites them or makes them anxious about your departure.
Tell them to go into their crate, give them a reward, and offer them praise. Leave the house without a big commotion.
When you return, quietly let them out of their crate. Again, don’t make this a big deal. Don’t act overly excited to see them on arriving or this could increase their anxiety.
Occasionally, leave your dog in their crate for a short time while you’re still home so they don’t associate getting crated with your long departures.
Always remove your dog’s collar before placing them in their den. Their collar could get hung up on one of the bars and cause serious injury or worse!
When you take the time to introduce the crate properly, they see it is a comfortable place that has their favorite toys and tasty foods!
You must keep this slow. If at any time your dog whines, you have gone on too long!
If your Shepherd whines or barks, don’t let her out of the crate until she’s quiet (even if just for a few seconds she’s stopped whining).
If you let your Shepherd out of the crate while they’re whining and barking, they’ll learn to whine and bark in the crate for attention or to be released – you don’t want this!
German Shepherd Puppy Crate Training Schedule
Wake up and take your dog out. Praise puppy for relieving themselves. Go back inside and fix the puppy’s breakfast. Offer fresh water and take them back outside again.
Interact with your dog before leaving for the day. Take your pup back outside to eliminate before crating.
You can stop by for lunch or have a friend or dog walker stop by. Let them outside to relieve themselves and stretch. Offer fresh water, cuddles, and another meal. They need to go outside after eating and drinking. Place your pup back in the crate.
When you return home, let your dog outside. Play with them and take them for a walk. Supervise them by leashing them to you and watching them closely.
Take your pup outside after playing with him and allowing him supervised time.
Feed your dog their last meal of the day hours before they go to bed. Let them outside. Praise them for using the bathroom outside. Throw a ball or work on basic obedience. Return inside and leash them to you to supervise while playing, petting, or letting them rest next to you.
Take your dog outside for bathroom time. Bring them in and let them explore while you watch them. Keep them leashed to you when indoors to avoid any accidents. Offer fresh water. Take up the water a couple of hours before bed. This is to prevent accidents in the crate overnight.
Puppies need to go outside right before bedtime. Let them stretch their legs in the yard. But don’t begin playing with them enthusiastically. This gets him too excited before bed. You want bedtime to be a calming ritual.
Try setting your phone’s reminder alarms so you don’t miss a potty break.
Maybe you can’t stay home all day with your new dog, so this schedule won’t work for you.
No problem, there’s a simple solution…
How to Crate Train a German Shepherd with Any Schedule
If the time schedule doesn’t work for you, there is another option.
You can make your own schedule based on the typical times a GSD puppy needs to go out. Be sure to watch for these times and set an alarm if you need a reminder.
Pay attention to these timesand let your dog out:
When they first wake up.
After their first meal of the day.
Before you go to work.
Before your pup’s lunchtime.
After your pup’s lunchtime.
Before their dinner.
After their dinner.
Before their bedtime.
Scheduling is important because it lets you and your dog know what to expect each day.
Dogs and puppies love routines.
Keeping to a schedule and routine will help create a stable home with expectations and make house training easier on you and your dog.
German Shepherd Crate Training Fast and Quick
It’s important to establish household rules as soon as your new dog joins the family.
Following rules and routines early prevent problems from developing. Here are some quick tips for crate training a German Shepherd for faster results.
German Shepherd Crate Training Tips
Find a crate training schedule that suits you and your puppy (the sooner the better to get a routine).
To teach these skills, you need to be clear about your schedule and expectations. Follow through with your routine and rules to get the best results.
Crate Training Problems and Solutions
If you’re having problems crate training your GSD, then use this problem and solution checklist to troubleshoot your issues.
Your dog isn’t clean overnight.
8 hours is too long for some dogs and puppies. Get them out to eliminate sooner. Set an alarm if you need help to wake up to take them out.
The dog isn’t eliminating on his last outside walk before crating.
Go outside with your dog. Keep him company. Does he have a quiet area private to eliminate? Find another area for him to potty that he may like. Offer praise and reward when he potties outside.
Your dog keeps urinating in his crate, even after cleaning it.
Urine and feces MUST be cleaned with a specialty enzyme cleaner. Only an enzyme cleaner can remove the biological traces of your dog’s accidents. Clean the area with warm, soapy water, rinse well, then use the enzyme cleaner to take away any traces of the smell.
Your puppy whines and cries all night in the crate.
You’ve probably moved too quickly with your crate training and your pup is scared. Move the crate into your bedroom where you sleep and keep a night light on dimly lit in the room so your dog isn’t in the dark.
This chart can help you sort out some of your kennel training issues.
How to Crate Train a German Shepherd Puppy Successfully
German Shepherd puppy crate training isn’t stressful when you know the steps to get started successfully.
Have your area set up for your puppy or dog before you bring them home. Buy the right size crate to begin with so your pup doesn’t have to change crates later.
Go slowly and don’t force your pup into the crate!
Use a schedule and break down the training into small, achievable steps for you and your dog. The best training takes patience and consistency.
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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