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Who knew having a puppy was this tiring? Especially as that pup happens to be a Beagle, which is one of the more mischievous breeds out there. You turn your back for a few seconds--in fact, you don't even have to turn your back--and he's chewing something he shouldn't or digging the carpet. You're exhausted from the sheer effort of having to watch him every second of every minute he's awake.
You're not so much worried about damage to the house (although hubs isn't quite as forgiving) so much that he'll chew and swallow something he shouldn't. Indeed you are right to worry because swallowing small objects is a sure fire way for the pup to end up in doggie ER awaiting surgery to remove a foreign body stuck in the gut.
A friend suggested crate training the pup, so that when you can't be there to supervise, you can at least know he's not eating carpet or house plants. It seems a good idea, and something you are keen to know more about.
Mischievous dogs such as the Beagle are a danger to themselves. A crate is a great way to keep pup safe when you can't be in the room, watching over him. When crate training is done properly, the dog views the crate as his den, his safe-place, and far from being cruel or unfair to confine the dog in the crate, it becomes something that appeals to his instinct as a dog.
Of course, there's a right and a wrong way to crate train a dog. The wrong way is to force the dog inside and shut him in against his will. This will serve to make him resentful of the crate and feel stressed when inside.
The right way to crate train is to have the pup discover the crate as a great place to be (hidden treats help a lot) and then praise him for spending calm time inside the crate.
To create train a Beagle puppy, you need to encourage him to think the crate is a great place to be. You do this by having the right sized crate and making it comfortable inside. Then you hide goodies in the crate so that he wants to go in. To do this you will need:
- A crate
- A comfy bed
- Favorite toys
- Time to sit with the puppy and praise him
- His dinner in a bowl
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Don't: Put puppy in the crate as a punishment
It's imperative that the dog only associates the crate with good things. Never use the crate as a place of imprisonment and put the puppy there when he's naughty.
Do: Keep up with the treats
Once the pup learns to go into the crate, it's all to easy to forget about rewarding him. Do remember to occasionally hide a goodie in the crate so that it remains an exciting and intriguing place to be.
Don't: Respond to crying
If the puppy cries and you let him out of the crate, he has learned that crying gets what he wants. Next time, he will cry louder and longer until he gets your attention and you do his bidding. Be prepared to ignore whining and crying, and even to avoid entering the room when he's making a noise. You want him to learn that quiet behavior is rewarded, not noise.
Do: Let the puppy out only when he's quiet
Following on a theme, only open the door when puppy is quiet, so he learns that silence (not howling) gets what he wants. If necessary, wait for a break in the barks before responding. Most dogs will pause for a brief time, even in the midst of a barking session, in order to listen to see if anyone has heard. Take advantage of this brief lull to enter or let him out (hence rewarding the silence).
Don't: Leave the dog in the crate for hours on end
Don't abuse crate confinement by leaving the dog inside for hours and hours. As a rule of thumb, four hours is the longest an adult dog should be confined without a break during the day, and less for puppies.
The Crate Confinement Method
Understand the idea
Until now, you have been getting puppy used to going into the crate and building a strong link between the place and pleasant things. Now it's time to start closing the crate door, so that the dog is confined inside. This obviously removes the dog's ability to leave when he wants, and so it's crucial that once again you build strong positive associations with being in the closed crate. This is done by only shutting the door for a few seconds at first, and praising the pup when he's calm. Over time, you gradually extend the how long you leave the door closed until he is content to curl up and sleep for hours if necessary.
Start at mealtimes
Feed your puppy in the crate. Whilst he is eating, quietly shut the crate door. Leave it shut for just a few seconds and open it again. The puppy may well be so preoccupied with eating that he doesn't take any notice. Slowly extend the amount of time the door is closed before you open it again. If the puppy finishes eating, the praise his calm behavior and then open the door.
With the puppy in the crate, if he remains calm with the door closed, give him lots of praise. Stay beside the crate for extra reassurance for the youngster. Then open the crate and make a big fuss of him. Gradually build up the time to a few minutes, where the pup is in the crate before releasing him.
Step away from the crate
Once the pup is quiet for several minutes in the crate, take a step away, pause, step back and let him out (provided he's quiet). Over the next few sessions, take more steps away until you are on the other side of the room but still in the dog's sight. Each time your return, praise his calm behavior and let him out for a fuss.
Briefly leave the room
When you are able to cross the room without the pup kicking off, then step outside the room and out of his eyeline. Be very careful only to re-enter the room when he is quiet. Remember, responding to a cry teaches him that crying gets what he wants. Go over to the crate, praise him and set him free
Spend longer out of the room
When all goes well, your next aim is to leave he room and stay gone for a few minutes before returning. The same principles apply of only entering when puppy is quiet and only letting him out when calm, then give him lots of praise.
The Introduce the Crate Method
Understand the idea
The best way to crate train a puppy is slowly! You want the puppy to 'discover' the crate and make a link with it being a great place to be. You can't do this quickly or force the pace, because the whole idea is for the crate to be a den... a safe place for puppy. Once the pup views the crate as somewhere he will go voluntarily, then you are on course for a happy dog.
Make the crate comfortable
Once crate trained your beagle may spend several hours at a time in his den, for example at night or when you go out. (Beagles can do a lot of damage in a short space of time!) Make sure the crate is comfortable by providing a soft, warm bed for him to snuggle down in. Place the crate in a quiet corner but in a room where he can see what's going on, such as a living room. You don't want the pup to feel left out of family life! Place a small bowl of water in the crate, so that pup cant have a drink should he feel the need.
Hide treats in the crate
Scatter tasty treats in the crate. A few at a time is fine, and preferably when the puppy isn't watching, so the goodies appear as if by magic. Do this regularly over the course of the day. If you're worried about the puppy's weight, then use some of his mealtime kibble - he'll love that just as much. Encourage the Beagle to use his nose to sniff out this wonderful tidbits, and praise him when he goes towards the crate or inside it. Once he finds the treats, tell him how clever he is and give another treat to reinforce the message.
Put favorite toys in the crate
Put your dog's favorite teddy or tug toy in the crate. Encourage him to go in and find the toy, and then reward him with a game. Again, do this whenever you want to play with the pup, so that he associates the crate with spending time with you.
Feed him in the crate
Another great way to get him used to the crate is to feed him his meals inside. At first, always leave the door open, so that he doesn't feel trapped. As he starts anticipating mealtimes and running to the crate, you can start to close the door while he's eating, for just a few seconds and then open it again before he asks to be let out.
Practice all of these steps
This first stage of crate training can take a day or two, or several weeks - depending on the puppy's temperament. Keep practicing these exercises until going into the crate is second nature for the dog and he's happy to go in.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 01/24/2018, edited: 01/08/2021