How to Crate Train a Pit Bull Puppy

Medium
2-14 Weeks
General

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.

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. 

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.

The Crate for Rest Method

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1 Vote
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
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The Crate With a Friend Method

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2 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Where the Fun Is Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Spuds
Pit bull
4 Months
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Question
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Spuds
Pit bull
4 Months

I'm having problems potty training him he won't use puppy pads or go outside

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hector, Check out the article that I have linked below. I suggest following the "Tethering" method while you can supervise him at home, and follow the "Crate Training" method while you are away or cannot watch him. Pay attention to things like rewarding him for going potty outside, taking him out often when you are home, and putting him back into the crate if he does not go potty, then trying about in 30-45 minutes. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If your schedule will allow it, at this age I suggest getting rid of the pee pads if your end goal is for him to go potty outside as an adult. Using pee pads for too long for dogs that won't use them forever can lead to confusion. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Nala
American Pit Bull Terrier
8 Weeks
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Question
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Nala
American Pit Bull Terrier
8 Weeks

I have a 2 year old trained Pit. Just got a new Pit pup, 8 weeks old. They love each other. How do I crate train the pup with a trained dog in the house? Do I let the older dog near the crate? Or separate them. What about when I leave for work? One roams while one will be in the crate. Can I let the eldest roam near the pups crate? Also, where should I place the crate?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sandra, First, puppy should be crated somewhere calm, away from windows - to discourage a barking habit. Due to potty training you might also want to consider the surface of the floor - such as a large bathroom floor without carpet, or wooden floor without carpet for crate to be on. If your older dog is fine out of the crate, they can be left out. Crate puppy in a room with the door closed when you are gone. You don't want your older dog pestering pup but you also want pup to be able to sleep while you are gone some - which a quiet area, away from the other dog helps with. Getting puppy used to being alone isn't a bad thing - it can prevent separation anxiety later and ensure puppy is okay when your older dog isn't around - which is an important skill. As far as introducing pup to the crate when you are there, you can either crate pup in a room where others are around or in a quieter room, such as a bedroom. Pup will need to get used to both - just make sure that when pup is in a more public area that it just isn't when you are not home so that your older dog won't be bothering pup while you aren't there to stop it. You can also crate pup in a public area when you are gone and lock your older dog in the bedroom or another nice room instead - depending on how your older dog would do with the confinement of the room. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Riley
Brindle Pitbull
9 Weeks
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Question
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Riley
Brindle Pitbull
9 Weeks

Hi I’m Janiya I have a Pitbull that 9 weeks old and when I try to potty train her like put a bunch of pee pads on the floor (in my room) take her outside for hours and she will never pee or poo but she always goes to my moms room, living room, and kitchen to pee and poo. I don’t know what to do I asked other people and they told me to everytime she does it put her nose in it and pop her or put her in the bathroom full of pee pads and close the door so she won’t have no room to move very well but I don’t know what too can you help and also I bought a crate today and when I put her in it and close the door she will whine and cry and when I open it she runs out and get on her dog bed I don’t know what to do help please !!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Janiya, First, what is your schedule like? If you someone is home to take pup potty at least every 3 hours, I suggest going straight to crate training for potty training and stopping all pee pads (if you don't plan to use pee pads long term they can cause confusion if used too long since they are made out of fabric like carpet and rugs - once removed later on pup may start having accidents. Check out the crate training method from the article linked below. If you schedule will allow, going straight to this method strictly should equal the fewest accidents and quickest potty training, but it will take dedicated and time at first. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Second, if your schedule won't allow you to take pup out often enough, you will need to use an indoor potty, then switch to outside potty training when pup's bladder is more mature and she can hold it for longer - when that time comes I would also switch to crate training because it tends to be the most effective for potty training - especially with a dog who has learned to potty in the house at all. In the meantime, Also, set up an exercise pen in a room that you can close off access to later on (pup will learn it's okay to potty in this room so choose accordingly). A guest bathroom, laundry room, or enclosed balcony - once weather is a safe temperature are a few options. Don't set the exercise up in a main area of the house like the den or kitchen. Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below, and instead of a litter box like the article mentions, use a real grass pad to stay consistent with teaching pup to potty on grass outside - which is far less confusing than pee pads (Don't use pee pads if the end goal is pottying outside later, which I am guessing it is since you are also taking her out on a leash). Since your goal is pottying outside only use the Exercise Pen at night and when you are not home. When pup can hold her bladder while in the rest of the house consistently and can hold it for as long as you are gone for during the day while she is in the crate and overnight, then remove the exercise pen and grass pad completely, close off access to the room that the pen was in so she won't go into there looking to pee, and take her potty outside only. Since she may still chew longer even after potty training, when you leave her alone, be sure to leave her in a safe area that's been puppy proofed, like an exercise pen or crate even after she is potty trained - until she is out of the destructive chewing phases too - which typically happens between 1-2 years for most dogs with the right training. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad brands - Also found on Amazon www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com You can also make your own out of a piece of grass sod cut up and a large, shallow plastic storage container. Finally, forget about the nose rubbing in poop. Corrections in potty training are only effective if you actually catch pup mid-squat - and if that happens a better course of action is to clap a couple of times to surprise pup, then rush pup outside. Once pup potties outside all is forgiven - no more punishment - because puppies live in the moment and pup will think you are punishing for something good if you do it delayed. I really wouldn't worry about any form of punishment when it comes to potty training though. Potty training is based on utilizing a dog's natural desire to keep a confined space clean and helping pup create a habit of inside staying clean and eliminating outside. Once that habit if created pup wants to maintain it themselves due to instincts - your goal is to help pup not have accidents inside and to reward pup when they go potty outside to help create a long-term habit in pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ace
American Staffordshire Terrier
4 Months
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Question
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Ace
American Staffordshire Terrier
4 Months

We recently got a 4 month am-staff puppy, Ace. I have been working on associating his crate with good things like a small peanut butter filled kong and chew toys he can only have in his crate and also giving him a treat/praise when he walks in on his own and lays down. He does amazing, with the door open that is... as soon as I shut the door, he goes crazy! Even if I wear down his energy and he has been asleep for a bit its the same thing. Non-stop barking, biting at the cage, and he starts salivating like crazy. We have a 5 year pit that we have had since about the same age but she never did anything but bark so this is new territory for me. Am I moving too fast for him or is there something I can do to help ease both of our anxiety? I'm scare to leave him in there for too long because I dont want him to harm himself but I feel like sticking with what I have been doing isnt getting me anywhere.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ashley, First, check out the article linked below and follow the Surprise method - skip to the part where you first close the door. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Second, check out the video linked below and practice the exercise found there a lot to condition pup to be calmer and more respectful in the crate. https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Third, stay strong. Some puppies sound and act like they are dying in the crate. Unless pup is physically injuring themselves (blood and such) not just acting crazy, don't open the door unless they are calm for a second or truly need to go potty. The first three days tend to be the worst, then there is about a two week period for most puppies where they still protest but calm down sooner and gradually get used to the crate. Keep rewarding seconds of calm in the crate with treats, and once pup is staying in the crate a bit longer, give a dog food stuffed Kong in the crate also. Pup probably won't pay attention to the toy at first but once calmer will want it. Fourth, if pup is injuring themselves or not adjusting within two weeks you will need to help them calm back down using an interrupter. It might sound harsh but in the end it typically leads to a lot less stress than letting the protesting go on and it is super important for pup to be crate trained - it can help with potty training, prevent dangerous destructive chewing, prevent separation anxiety (it's easier for pup to learn how to handle this now than as an adult by far!), make traveling easier, be essential for boarding and surgery or injuries later on, ect... To interrupt pup, use the Surprise method linked at the top of this comment - giving treats if pup becomes quiet even briefly, but also spend time teaching Quiet while out of the crate using the Quiet method linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Work on teaching "Quiet" by using the Quiet method from the article linked above. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If he disobeys your Quiet command and keeps crying or trying to escape or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at his side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If he stays quiet after you leave, you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward his quietness. Only use the unscented air from the Pet Convincers - don't use citronella, it's too harsh and lingers for too long so can be confusing. When some dogs get highly aroused because of all the chemicals being released in their brains, it can be hard for them to calm themselves back down. The puff of air from the Pet Convincer is intended to interrupt that cycle and help pup calm back down long enough for you to be able to reward pup and for him to see that he is able to be calm in the crate - and eventually being quiet is what earns him rewards and freedom, not acting crazy. Right now the crate in general is new though, so pup also simply needs to be given the opportunity to see that nothing terrible really happens in the crate and he always gets out again - so that is becomes no big deal and he learns to relax while in there. Confinement in general is completely new for pup and he just doesn't know what to do with it so he is trying to escape. He needs to be given a chance to give up on that and learn that there are other options that are less stressful that he can choose. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Miley
Staffy/American Bully
10 Months
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Question
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Miley
Staffy/American Bully
10 Months

My pup is 10 months old. When she is in the crate, she has associated that with being okay to potty in even though she is house-broken. How can I stop her from having accidents in her crate as I am away for work?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

You may have to give Miley a new outlook on her crate and potty training. It is essentially starting from the beginning and teaching her over again. The Crate Training Method here is excellent: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside. When you are cleaning the crate, it is essential that you use an enzymatic cleaner (available from pet supply stores) because the lingering odor will encourage her to use the crate again. You may not smell the odor but Miley's sensitive nose picks it up. Do you have the option of coming home through the day to take Miley outside? Or can someone come by? She may be finding it difficult to hold it all day while you are at work - she is still young yet. Good luck!

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