How to Crate Train a Pit Bull Puppy

How to Crate Train a Pit Bull Puppy
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Time icon2-14 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

For many, the Pit Bull epitomizes the American dog. From Petey in "The Little Rascals" to Sergeant Stubby, who captured a spy in World War I, Pit Bulls have captured the hearts of millions. With their wide smiles and class clown attitude, pits are hard not to love. What some potential pitbull owners are prone to forget and that pitbull owners are always reminded of, is that their dog is a pit bull terrier. Terriers are energetic, fun loving, and some say a little bit crazy. Pit Bulls are no exception, and with their powerful jaws and muscular bodies, it is extra important to make sure your pitbull puppy has an outlet for her uncontainable energy. Luckily for you, most pits absolutely love to chew. Especially when your puppy is teething, you can expect her to devote hours to chewing on all sorts of different things. If you want the things she chews to be of your choosing, crate training is essential for times you are away from her or can't watch her.

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Defining Tasks

All puppies feel the separation from their mother and litter as anxiety. Most will want to sleep with their new human family to ease that anxiety. To teach your new puppy to sleep by herself, as well as to potty train, crate training will be a useful tool. Ease your pup's anxiety by increasing crate time gradually, letting her out frequently throughout the night to go to the bathroom and for some cuddle time with you. While it may be a tough few weeks at first, eventually your puppy will acclimate to sleeping on her own in her own comfy crate. 

Pit Bull puppies really do want to chew on everything and for many, this means bedding as well. Provide your pup with a firm, heavy crate bed to discourage chewing. It isn't a bad idea to put a tough nylon cover over the bed and then cover that with a thick fluffy cover. That way if your pup goes on a destructive rampage she will only destroy the blanket, instead of the entire bed. 

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Getting Started

Hands down, the most important thing for a crated pitbull puppy is chewing entertainment. Provide a wide range of chews suitable for teething powerful breeds. Heavy-duty nylon, thick natural rawhide, and natural horns and antlers are all suitable for your pitbull puppy. Go bigger and heavier wherever possible when deciding on chews for a powerful chewer like a Pit Bull. Kong toys work wonders to entertain even determined chewers. Put all of your dog's kibble in a food dispensing toy for hours of entertainment while she works for her food, and stuff a heavy duty Kong big enough that it won't be swallowed but small enough for your puppy to really squeeze it. You can stuff with all sorts of healthy and natural fillings, or wet your dog's kibble and fill it with that. Try freezing or microwaving Kong toys for added texture. Freezing is especially nice for a puppy's sore gums while teething.

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The Crate for Rest Method

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1

Remove other comfy places

Stock your pit bull puppy's crate with a very comfy bed and blankets, as well as all her favorite toys and chews. Remove all the other comfy places where she could sleep from the house, and discourage her from lying on the bed or couch.

2

Reward for crate

When your puppy enters the crate of her own will to lie down, reward her with a treat or special chew, and your affectionate praise. Tell her a command for "good crate" while rewarding.

3

Begin closing door

When your pitbull puppy is lying for periods in her crate of her own will, begin closing the door for brief periods, rewarding for calm behavior.

4

Increase time gradually

Gradually increase the time you keep the door closed. Keep an eye on your puppy by checking frequently or using a nanny cam and release her if there is any discomfort.

5

Go to crate and reward

Begin asking your dog to go to her crate at bedtime or when you will leave for a few hours. Reward her for entering the crate.

The Crate With a Friend Method

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Nervous puppy

If your new pitbull puppy is very distraught at being crated alone even for a moment, try keeping the crate near you or another dog until she is calmer.

2

Happy crate

Place the crate next to your bed or near where you are, or near another dog's crate. Fill your puppy's crate with all kinds of chews and food dispensing toys.

3

Leave the door open

Leave the crate door open, allowing your puppy to go in and out as she likes at first. Reward her for entering and staying in the crate.

4

Walk away

Begin walking away for brief periods while your pitbull puppy is occupied. If she follows you, ignore her and walk back to the room until she goes in the crate again.

5

Close door and increase time

Once you can walk away without your puppy following you, begin closing the crate door for brief periods when you walk away. Gradually increase the time until you can leave her alone for several hours comfortably.

The Where the Fun Is Method

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Crate time is fun time

Leaving your puppy's crate door open, put a good new chew or food dispensing toy in the crate. Let your puppy enter the crate naturally.

2

Only in the crate!

If your puppy tries to carry the chew out, give a command of your choosing to mean, "only in the crate" and block her from leaving.

3

Let her pass

When your puppy drops the chew, let her leave the crate. If she goes back for the chew, again block her from leaving.

4

Begin closing door

Once your puppy has internalized the concept that she must chew on her toys in the crate, begin closing the door for short periods while she is occupied.

5

Build time

Build the time your pup spends in her crate until you can leave her for several hours and she will be content.

By Coral Drake

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Draco Kaine Pope-Harris

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Pit bull

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5 Weeks

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Everytime he’s put in his crate and the door is closed, he starts crying instantly non stop. Door open, he’s just fine. But the problem with leaving the door open is he’s not potty trained so he’ll just use the bathroom anywhere throughout the night.

Sept. 4, 2021

Draco Kaine Pope-Harris's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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Hello! Here is detailed information on potty training, as well as crate training to help with your crate training issues. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. 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. 5, 2021

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Marley

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Pit bull

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12 Weeks

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I need help kennel training her , potty training her,stop being so mean and nibbling and playing rough with people . I have had her since she was 3 weeks old . I bottle fed her for 2 weeks and then she started soft food and then now she is on pediagree puppy .

Sept. 2, 2021

Marley's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Jeff, For the crate training, check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. Surprise method - know that crying is normal for a couple weeks. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Potty training - Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Out command from the second article linked below to make her leave the area as a consequence. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The Out method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just playing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area, is also a good command for you to use if pup bites the kids. Check out the section on Using Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior for how to calmly enforce that command once it's taught. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Right now, an outside class may be best in a fenced area, or letting friends' pups play in someone's fence outside. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, she probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help her calm down and rest. Practicing regular obedience commands or having pup earn what they get by performing commands like Sit and Down before feeding, petting, tossing a toy, opening the door for a walk, ect... can also help stimulate pup mentally to increase calmness and wear them out. Commands that practice focus, self-control, and learning something a bit new or harder than before can all tire out puppies. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Sept. 3, 2021


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