How to Crate Train a Rottweiler Puppy

How to Crate Train a Rottweiler Puppy
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-6 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Far too many dog owners seem to believe crating a Rottweiler is cruel and inhumane. Yet, the reality is that this is simply not the case if you take the proper approach to crate training your Rottie. Bear in mind that crate training a puppy tends to be significantly easier than training an older dog, but no matter what age your dog is, you can still crate train him, it might just take a little longer. However, if you are going to train your pup, remember that his tiny bladder cannot hold much, so he needs to be taken outside frequently.

Although one of the main reasons many people choose to crate train their Rotties is as a part of potty training, we are concentrating on training your pup to see his crate as his den. There is a big difference in some ways, yet most dogs will avoid soiling their bed or den, so in a way, crate training can help with potty training as an incidental side benefit. 

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Defining Tasks

The task at hand is to train your pup to go into his crate on command and to remain there without fussing for long periods of time such as when are at work or when you are trying to sleep at night. The idea is to teach your dog that the crate is his "den" and that it is perfectly okay if he spends time in it. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

In some cases, dogs will enter out of curiosity, like what they find, and stay in there on their own. But in most cases, you will need to work with your Rottie until he is ready to accept the fact he must spend hours in his crate. Crate training a Rottweiler accomplishes a number of things, like teaching him to chew on the toys you give him instead of inappropriate items. It can save him from injury or death that could result from getting into chemicals or electric wires. 

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Getting Started

Of course, you are going to need a crate to work with. At first, you need a smaller crate, but by the time your pup reaches full size, you will need a much bigger crate. You can buy or borrow a smaller one for use while he is a pup. This is important, as a crate that is too big for your pup will make him nervous and could lead to his using one corner as a potty since there plenty of space. One that is too small will not give him enough room to move around in.

Be sure you set up the crate with a pad or carpeting, a bed, a water bottle and, of course, a selection of your pup's favorite chew toys. The idea is to turn the crate from a bare wire cage into a comfortable den your pup will enjoy spending time in. 

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The Love My Crate Method

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Show the treat

Show your puppy one of his favorite treats and let him get a good whiff of it. Then toss the treat all the way to the very back of the crate. When your pup goes in to retrieve the treat, make sure you praise him heavily. Repeat this over the course of several days without closing the door.

2

Dinner and a movie

Well, maybe no movie, but you can start feeding your Rottie inside his crate. Place his food bowl inside the crate towards the back and step back. Leave the door open for now. Do this for several meals and then start closing the door. As soon as he is done eating, open the door and take him outside.

3

While you are busy

Put your pup in the crate in 30-minute intervals while you go about your chores around the house. Be sure he has toys to keep him busy. It might also help if you take him out and exercise him a little at first to tire him out.

4

Add more time

Continue leaving your pup in his crate for longer periods of time until he can stay in it for as long as you need him to without fussing.

5

And the rest

The rest is all about practice, practice, and more practice. Just always make sure that his crate is an inviting place your Rottie won't mind spending time in.

The Quieting Down Method

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Establish your pup's new home

Set up your Rottie's crate in a part of the house where he will be with the family, but not in the main flow of traffic. Make sure your pup sees you setting it up. Place a few toys in it and bury a treat under them.

2

Give the cue

Give your pup the cue word "kennel" or "crate" and then place him in the crate near the toys.

3

Let him stay

Let your pup stay in the crate, which he will do while he searches for the treat he can smell. Repeat over several days until he gets used to being in the crate.

4

Close the door

Time to start closing the door. At first, it won't bother him, but once his treats are gone, he may start barking and fussing. When he does, go on about your daily routine.

5

When he calms down

Your Rottie will only make a fuss for so long--when he finally calms down, go ahead and let him out using your cue "come out." When he does, praise him and give him a treat before taking him outside to pee.

6

Finish up

The only thing left to do is extend the amount of time he spends in his crate before you take him out. In time, he will come to see his crate as a den and will be happy to spend time in it.

The Create a Den Method

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Find a home for the crate

Find a permanent spot in your home for the crate. One where your pup can still interact with everyone, but that is not in the way. Using soft carpeting, a comfortable puppy bed, a few toys, and either a crate cover or a blanket make a nice den for your pup.

2

Add one Rottie

Go ahead and pick up your pup and put him in his new den, show him his toys, then close the door and let him explore. He might be done in a few seconds, it might take several minutes. Let him set the pace to a point.

3

Al that noise

At some point, your pup is going to let you know just how upset he is at being locked in the crate. It’s only natural as no dog likes being locked up. Let him have his say, it won't last long. When he stops fussing and calms down, praise him and give him a tasty treat.

4

Let him out

Let your pup out of his crate and take him out to go potty and get some exercise.

5

Keep working at it

Keep working with your pup to extend the time he spends in his crate until he goes in willingly with no fuss. In time you may even find your Rottie napping in there all by himself. When he does this, you know you have done a good job.

By PB Getz

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Pennie

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Rottweiler

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14 Months

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Question

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She is tearing the cushion out of the couch in a smaller (now bigger) and pooping in the couch. She had a crate, but destroyed it when she broke out of it. I feel like she has separation anxiety

April 15, 2022

Pennie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, First, I would invest in a different type of crate. Check out this link for some ideas. https://www.fivebarks.com/best-heavy-duty-dog-crate-for-escape-artists/ For a bed I would use something like primopads.com or k9ballistics. The primopad one includes zipties so you can secure all the edges of the pad down on the crate bars, preventing pup from chewing the edges - which leads to bed destruction the quickest. The biggest reason for that type of k9ballistics beds though is that it's not made of foam and fabric like the couch - since you don't want to encourage pooping in the crate. With a high quality crate, I would also work on the crate training and separation anxiety. There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety, depending on how pup responds and the severity of it. There is also something called separation boredom, which is not really anxiety but rather boredom based. Giving pup things to do, like dog food stuffed kongs, can help with boredom based issues. For anxiety, the first step is to work on building his independence and his confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into his routine. Things such as making him work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching him to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that he does not anticipate alone time and build up his anxiety before you leave - which is hard for him to deescalate from, and be sure to continue to give him something to do in the crate during the day (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on). Also, practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. If pup does fine out of the crate and the case is mild, you can do this in a dog proofed room instead of crate, but if pup is destructive when left alone or has potty accidents, pup is probably being given freedom out of the crate too soon, and needs to be crated while you are away until he is past that destructive phase around 18 months; this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time on its own for some dogs with more severe cases. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building his independence and structure in his life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU Second, you will need an interrupter, such as an electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing only high quality brands though. For example, E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator or Garmin Delta Sport or Dogtra for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator and Garmin should also have a vibration mode) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell - punisher lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). The vibration or spray collars are less likely to work than stimulation e-collars though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on him. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on him while he is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM A modern, high quality collar will have so many levels that each level should be really subtle and he will likely respond to a low level stimulation. It's uncomfortable but not the harsh shock many people associate with such collars if done right. Once you have found the right stimulation level for him and have it correctly fitted on him, have him wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours or days if you can (take it off at night to sleep though). Next, set up your camera to spy on him while he is in the crate. Put him into the crate while he is wearing the collar and leave. Spy on him from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear him barking or see him start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time he barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate him again. If he does not decrease his barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. He may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator or two more levels on another collar with less levels right now though because he has not learned what he is supposed to be doing yet. For example, if his level is 13 out of 100 levels on the Mini Educator, don't go past level 16 right now. The level you end up using on him on the mini educator collar will probably be low to medium, within the first forty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for him. If he continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog, sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting him from outside when he barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when he stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, when he is quiet, go back inside and sprinkle more treats. This time stay inside. Do not speak to him or pay attention to him for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When he is being calm, then you can let him out of the crate. When you let him out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with him also. He may not want it right now, but once he is less anxious after training he will likely enjoy it and that will help him to enjoy the crate more, especially since he is so food motivated. First, he may need his anxious state of mind interrupted so that he is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give him a food stuffed Kong in the crate for him to relieve his boredom instead of barking, since he will need something other than barking to do at that point. I would do all of the above with professional training help, and I would wait to replace your couch until you have addressed the behavior. Once it is addressed, replace the couch or at least cushions also, so the couch's smell will not encourage additional pooping when pup isn't being crated. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 18, 2022

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Luna

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Rottweiler

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2 Months

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We have had our pup since 7 weeks we immediately introduced the crate first night home and has not. Messed in her crate since we got her now last week or so we have been doing same routine and Luna is now messing in her crate #1 and #2 we feel she is doing it spitefully this is after she has eaten and been taken out WE are at our wits end please help we don’t want to get rid of our dog but at same time we don’t want a stink house thanks frustrated

June 11, 2021

Luna's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Diana, First, know that puppies generally need to poop 15-45 minutes after eating, not always immediately. If you are feeding pup, taking pup outside immediately after and they don't go, then crating pup, pup's need to poop can be delayed and the accident happens in the crate, even if pup just peed right before you fed them. Adjusting the schedule could help in that case. Second, is there anything absorbent in the crate, including a soft bed or towel? If so, take those out of the crate. Something non-absorbent can be used instead, like www.primopads.com or k9ballistics crate mats. An absorbent material won't motivate pup to hold it, and once pup discovers the material is absorbent they are less inclined to hold it while in the crate in the future. Third, how big is the crate? The crate should only be big enough for pup to stand up, turn around, and lie down. If it's so big pup can go potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it, pup won't be motivated to hold it while in there. If you purchased an adult crate that's too big right now, if a wire crate, a metal crate divider can be purchased and installed to block off part of the crate, making it small enough until pup grows into it. Fourth, be sure to clean up any accidents with a cleaner that contains enzymes. Only enzymes remove the smell to the level a dog's sensitive nose needs. The first accident may have been a one time thing, but now if the crate smells like urine or poop to puppy (even if you can't smell it), pup will be encouraged to go in there again. Fifth, at this age the maximum time that pup can hold their bladder for between potty breaks is the number of months they are in age plus one. Sometimes this number will increase if pup sleeps for a while time, but once awake you can't go past that maximum or pup will be forced to have an accident in the crate. At two months of age, 2-3 hours is pup's maximum amount of time. It's possible pup is eating or drinking more now because they are older and busier, and are napping less so their bladder is more awake too, so pup may have held it better before but age is making that maximum number lead to accidents. If pup is being expected to go longer than that, pup definitely needs more potty breaks. You can add one hour to that time every month pup ages, until you reach 8 hours around 7 months of age, with 8 hours being the maximum time for adult dogs also. Sixth, if all of the above are being addressed, pup was previously accident free, and accidents seem out of character, I would consider a trip to your vet to rule out something causing incontinence or GI upset, like parasites or infection. Puppies commonly need multiple de-wormings while young if the breeder hasn't done all of them already. I am not a vet though, so consult your vet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 11, 2021


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