How to Crate Train a Mastiff Puppy

How to Crate Train a Mastiff Puppy
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-3 Months
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Bringing home your new Mastiff puppy can be both exciting and a little intimidating. On the one hand, you just can't wait to have fun with your new best friend and teach him all the best things in life. On the other hand, you might be nervous about creating a safe and comfortable place while instilling good behaviors. One of the first skills you should work on is crate-training your Mastiff puppy. 

Crate training your Mastiff will give him a safe place to call his home, give you peace of mind that he won't destroy the house, and help with safe car travel in his new surroundings. Crate training is a sensitive issue and you need to approach it with patience and consistency. You can't expect to stick your dog in a crate, leave for several hours, and have him want to ever be in there again. You have to slowly let him take ownership of the space and learn to love it. Crate training your Mastiff puppy the right way will pay off for the rest of his life.

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Defining Tasks

Crate training your Mastiff puppy comes with a few considerations. Remember that your Mastiff is not a Lab, or a Golden retriever, or a herding dog and sometimes needs slightly different training methods from time to time. Never be afraid to think outside the box (or crate) and enlist the help of a professional with Mastiff experience. 

Make sure you get the proper crate for your needs. A wire crate is good for home and allows your puppy to see everything that's going on in the world. A hardshell crate is safer for travel because they can't collapse down, but make sure they have proper ventilation. Another consideration for you is size. Your puppy is tiny, cute, and cuddly now, but in six months he is going to be huge! If you purchase a crate your puppy will grow into, make sure you purchase a divider so he can grow with the crate. Too much room in the crate can be less effective in potty training since the puppy can go the bathroom without messing up his bedding. You can often find second-hand crates and upgrade them as he grows.

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Getting Started

The most important item you need to crate train your Mastiff puppy is patience and the second most important item is a sense of humor. Once you show your puppy that the crate is the place to be, he'll be excited to get inside. Here are a few necessary items to have on hand.

  • An appropriately sized crate
  • Some comfy bedding
  • Treats
  • A food bowl
  • His favorite toys
  • A blanket to cover the crate

There are several ways to crate train your Mastiff puppy depending on his personality and your daily routines. Check out the three methods listed below and pick the best one for you and your buddy. If you take your time and listen to your dog, he'll learn to love the crate.

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The Food Association Method

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1

Set up the crate

Set up the crate in a room where the family spends a lot of time. Make it cozy with nice bedding. Make sure the door is tied open.

2

Allow your puppy to explore

Let your puppy in the room and begin to encourage his exploration. When he gets close to the crate toss him a treat. You can even place treats around the crate.

3

Encourage him to go inside

When he's sniffing the opening to the crate, toss a few treats just inside the door. Keep tossing them farther inside.

4

Reward him getting inside

Once he ventures inside the crate, give him a few treats and tell him "good boy!" Start to treat him only for going inside.

5

Give him meals in the crate

Once he's comfortable going inside the crate, start feeding him inside. Close the door while he eats and open it as soon as he is done.

6

Extend crate time

Start leaving the door closed for a few minutes after he is done. Extend crate time very slowly. Never leave him so long that he begins to whine. If he does, wait until he stops before letting him out and try again with less time.

7

Begin leaving the house

Once he can comfortably stay in the crate for 30 minutes, leave the house for about 15 minutes. Come back and let him out right away for a walk.

8

Leave for longer periods

Slowing increase the time you are gone from the house. Whenever you return, take him out for a walk and to relieve himself.

The Quiet Time Method

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1

Introduce the crate

Set up the crate in the middle of a quiet room. Add in comfortable bedding and maybe a favorite toy.

2

Bring in your puppy

After a walk and play time, bring your puppy into the room and encourage him to sniff and explore the crate.

3

Entice him inside

Whether he goes in on his own or he is a little reluctant, entice him inside with a stuffed Kong toy, a bone, or a chew toy. Keep the gate open.

4

Make the routine

Turn this into an after-play routine. Bring him in after play time and give him a Kong or a chew toy. Encourage him to lie down and enjoy the treat in the crate.

5

Start closing the door

Start to close the door for a few minutes while you stand by. Make sure to open it before he starts to whine or worry.

6

Close the door for longer

Close the door for longer periods of time. Once you reach 10 minutes, begin leaving for a short amount of time and returning quickly.

7

Leave the house

Once he is staying in the crate for 30 minutes, try leaving the house for up to 15 minutes at a time. Keep your routine of playing first and making sure he has gone to the bathroom. The crate should signify quiet time.

The Game Method

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1

Prepare the crate

Set up the crate in a family room or other room that your family uses frequently. Fill it with comfy pads or blankets and make it cozy.

2

Play close to the crate

Play with your puppy close to the crate. Give him treats each time he goes near it, or hide treats around it for him to find.

3

Make going into the crate a game

Create a game based on going into the crate. Toss a toy inside and give him praise when he goes in.

4

Play hide and seek

When he is comfortable going into the crate, begin to hide treats in the bedding. Make it fun for him to search and spend time in his crate.

5

Start to close the door

As he's searching, start to close the door for a few seconds. Open the door when he is finished.

6

Keep the door closed

Extend the time the door is closed while he is searching. Slowly extend the time, but don't wait long enough for him to whine.

7

Leave the room

Once he is comfortable with the door closed for five or 10 minutes, start to leave the room for a few seconds. Don't stay too long and always come back and let him out. Slowly extend the time you spend away and the time he is in the crate.

8

Try leaving the house

When he is comfortable staying in the crate for about 30 minutes (with you out of the room for five or 10 of those minutes), start to leave the house. Walk around the block or just stand outside. Slowly you can increase the amount of time you are gone. Always let him out right away to go to the bathroom when you get home.

By Katie Smith

Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Rambo

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English Mastiff

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1 Week

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Question

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I am just looking to start my pup off right. he is only 8 days old. I'm researching to provide the best care for my little man. I pick him up November 15th.

Sept. 21, 2020

Rambo's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! The best thing you can do for your new puppy is to start off with positive reinforcement based training techniques. And as much socialization as possible! THAT is more important than commands. You can always teach commands. But a properly socialized dog will give you nearly zero behavioral issues. Get him used to being handles for the times he may need a groomer or to go to the vet. Touch his paws, rub his ears, brush his teeth, brush his fur. Expose him to water, loud noises, different environments. And while doing all of this, provide him with treats and make it fun. As he gets his vaccines, expose him to people of all ages, and as many dogs as you can.

Sept. 22, 2020

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Oakley

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Mastiff X Boxer

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12 Weeks

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We are struggling to introduce his crate to him, he’s happy to go inside and wander in and stay in there for up to 10-15 minutes especially with his Kong but overnight is not working, any suggestions?

Sept. 21, 2020

Oakley's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

Sept. 21, 2020


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