german shepherd crate training

Crate Training a German Shepherd Puppy (Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide)

Crate training a German Shepherd puppy can be challenging. But, if you use this “Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide” and follow simple strategies, then the whole process will become fun-filled and easy. Bear in mind, puppy is no different than a human-baby in many ways! So, let’s dive in right-away!

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The process of training a dog to accept that a crate is a safe space is known as crate training. Just like other wild creatures, dogs are den animals. They think of their den as a hiding place from danger, a space to feel safe and secure or raise a family. So, while you are busy with household chores or you are out there running errands, you can rest assured of your pooch finding solitude in confinement and not making a big mess in your absence. Sounds like an excellent way to hit two birds with the same stone, right?

German Shepherds are jolly and friendly dogs. When left alone without supervision, they can develop a series of negative emotions such as depression, anger, sadness, boredom. Thus, to prevent your pup from feeling neglected, at the same time, training him to follow the household rules, crate training is an absolute must.

Great Crate Training Video Tips

Love this guy! Check out this video, you may learn a thing or two, even if you are seasoned pet parent.

Obedience Training Comes First

In dog training obedience training comes first. If your puppy do not know how to respond positively to your basic commands such as come, sit, stay or go, then thinking about crate training will be a wastage of time. And, it will be frustration for you and your dog.

If you haven’t done so, I would suggest you watch the following videos. This will help in your understanding and raise your confidence as a trainer.

Why Crate Training a German Shepherd Puppy Is Important?


Do you wish to see your dog sleep in peace in his personal space while you unwind after a tired day at work? If yes, then crate training your German Shepherd from an early age is the way to go. If your dog is well-adjusted to a crate, it will enable you to enjoy a good night’s sleep, also keeping your pup in his comfortable space. Puppies can create a mess when they are left all on their own, unsupervised. Crate training assures your pet that there is a pleasant place of his own ready to be utilized as and when needed. Crate training can be especially beneficial if you introduce it when your pet is a puppy. Here are some reasons why.

  1. If your pup is not house trained yet, introducing a crate can be a complementary step towards better training.
  1. A crate can come in handy when you have little kids in your house.
  1. Crate training, when complete can profoundly impact the emotional state of your pet positively.

Benefits of Crate Training your GSD

Crate training your German Shepherd puppy is beneficial for your pet as well as the residents of your home. Here are some key benefits to crate training. 

  1. Better Relaxation Time

Besides enabling the residents of the house in getting a peaceful sleep, the crate is useful in providing relaxation and sound sleep to your dog. 

  1. Improved Bonding

Crate training can help build a stronger relationship between the dog and the owner. It also helps you in posing the alpha and aids in obedience training. 

  1. Control of Dominant Behavior

When your dog is in other areas of your house, crate training will control the dominant and authoritative behavior. It will prevent your pet from making a mess around the house.

  1. Improved Overall Health

A safe and comfortable environment ensures that your pet is emotionally sound and happy which leads to better mental health. The fact that the puppy can rest comfortably ensures discipline. All these factors collectively lead better overall health.

Some Prerequisites for Crate Training your GSD

Crate training is a process that requires immense patience and time. Rest assured that repetitive training with vigilance and consistency will be rewarding in the long run. Considering the build and look of this breed, it might sound a little hard to believe. But German Shepherds like to stay away from enemies within a secure space. Did you know that in the wild, these dogs create a nest for themselves to make them feel safe from changing weather conditions and other predators?

How to Crate Train a German Shepherd Puppy?

Depending on your puppy’s age and temperament, crate training can take some time. The key to successfully crate training your GS puppy lies in how patient and progressive you are with your training approach. Positive reinforcement is the underlying attitude to follow while helping your canine buddy get used to a crate. 

Step 1: Selecting The Perfect Crate

Select a crate appropriate for your puppy’s size and buy a new one when he grows up. Alternatively, you can purchase a big crate and lay out a partition for your GS to live till he grows. However, make sure that the crate size isn’t large enough for your puppy to eliminate on one end and sit on another. It should only be spacious enough for your pet to sit, stand, lie down and turn around comfortably. Another way is to opt for rented crates when your pet is a puppy and trade in for a permanent one when your pup grows up.

Step 2: Introducing Your Puppy To The Crate

Place the crate in a room where your family tends to spend a lot of time. Put a soft towel or a blanket in the crate to make it a little more lucrative for your dog. Open the door and allow your dog to explore his area at peace during leisure time. In some cases, German Shepherds develop a fondness for the crate right away and start sleeping in them. However, it won’t be reasonable to expect the same behavior from every dog.

If this is not the case with your pet, gently escort them to the crate and speak in a calm and soothing tone. Leave the door to the crate open so that your pup doesn’t bump into the thing and hurt himself. Drop some of your pet’s favorite treats near the crate door and then all the way inside. If your GS doesn’t enter right away, don’t force it. If tossing in a treat doesn’t work immediately, consider putting a toy in the crate or a combination of the two. This is the step that can take several days with some dogs, so make sure you are patient during this time. 

Step 3: Meal Time In The Crate

To ensure that the association to the crate is a pleasant one, let your German Shepherd puppy enjoy a nice mealtime in the crate. If your puppy is not reluctant to enter the crate, put the treat inside. If they are not coming inside the crate easily, place the food items only at a distance comfortable to them. A good idea in this situation is to gradually increase the range. Once your puppy finishes a meal, open the door. As they get more comfortable, leave the door closed for a few extra minutes unless you reach the 10-minute goal.

There are chances you might increase the time duration too quickly. It can lead to your puppy whining or crying to get out of the crate. Make sure you don’t open the door of the crate unless they stop or they will associate this action as a means to get out.

Step 4: Practicing Longer Crating Duration

The main aim of crate training is to provide your pet with comfortable space while you are out. This way, you don’t have to worry about the safety of your pup, nor you have to fret over the potential mess your house can become while you are out. Once your puppy is used to having meals inside the crate without any trace of anxiety or fear, you can start confining them for a short duration while you are home.

  1. Call your puppy over and point to the crate having a treat in hand.
  1. Associating a command to the action can turn out to be convenient in the long run. As soon as your puppy enters on your control, praise him nicely.
  1. Once your GSD enters the crate, close the door after giving the treat.
  1. Be around the crate for a few minutes, go to another room for some time, come back, sit again for a few minutes near the crate and then let them out.

Training Your Puppy To Stay In The Crate In Your Absence

Gradually increase the time duration you are out of their sight. Slowly ease into the process without any sharp changes. Once your puppy efficiently spends 30 minutes or more with you out of sight, you can begin leaving them inside the crate while you are out for short intervals.

Tips To Crate Training Your German Shepherd Puppy At Night

A puppy needs to eliminate during the night. A good idea while night training is to keep the crate next to your bed while sleeping or at least nearby. Eventually, as the training progresses and your pet becomes more comfortable with the idea of sleeping in a crate, you can move it to the location you prefer. Here are some tips to follow when you are crate training your puppy at night.

  1. Put some comfy bedding inside the crate to initiate a relaxing atmosphere. Top it up with some chew toys for entertainment before your pup goes to sleep and when he wakes up to eliminate.
  1. Before placing your German Shepherd puppy inside the crate, make sure you take him out to eliminate.
  1. Once he enters the crate, treat him and block the door gently without closing it. Once he settles and falls asleep, close the door and try to be around when your puppy wakes up for the first few times.
  1. When your pup wakes up, take him outside to eliminate as quickly as possible.
  1. A good idea is to feed your puppy at least three hours before bedtime. Play with him to enable your pup to release excess energy. This will result in sound sleep time and reduce the frequency of waking up at night. As time passes, your puppy will begin to consider the crate as a sleeping place.

Potential Problems That Might Arise During Crate Training

Crate training or any training for that matter is not a picnic. German Shepherds are active dogs that might not do well with confinement at first. You should be prepared for the potential issues that may arise while getting your GS puppy used to the crate. Let’s take a look. 

  1. Separation Anxiety

A puppy needs to feel secure before undergoing crate training. If not, your puppy can suffer from severe separation anxiety if isolated in a crate for a longer duration.

  1. Aggressive Behavior

From nipping, scratching the walls of the crate to excessively barking, your pup can begin exhibiting aggressive behavior if he doesn’t like his new routine. He might also develop a tendency to attempt to escape and hurt himself during the process. Besides these traits, passive-aggressive behaviors such as circling the crate and other forms of aversion to the crate can also develop.

  1. Whining And Crying

Whining is a trait that confuses pet owners and raises concern regarding when to ignore and when to let the puppy out. If you let out the puppy while he whines during training, he will associate making noise as something he can do to get his way with you. On the other hand, he could while when he wants to eliminate.

Some Cautions to Exercise While Crate Training your German Shepherd

Problems are likely to arise during crate training. To avoid them, here are some cautions to exercise while training your German Shepherd Puppy.

  1. It is essential for the dog to associate the crate with safety and comfort, not social isolation. Make sure you don’t neglect your pup while training him to get used to a crate.
  1. Never use the crate as a punishment for anything. This will make your dog hate the crate.
  1. Leaving a dog in a crate all day long is never a good idea. Keep your puppy exercised and active by taking him out for walks and playing with him.

Wrapping it up

Instead of treating crate training a task, think of it as an activity to bond with your puppy. Even if your new puppy seems to hate the crate in the beginning, be gentle and link the crate training to something he likes. Remember, as long as the crate confinement is not excessive, this training can play a significant role in housebreaking a dog. It is important to understand your dog and what they are conveying (or saying) to you. So, understanding little bit of dog psychology facts can definitely help.

Good luck!

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