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How to Crate Train Your Australian Shepherd Puppy

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Crate training is an important part of teaching your Australian Shepherd how to enjoy being alone. A crate creates a safe environment for your dog and provides them with a feeling of security. When a dog is trained to use a crate from an early age, it can help calm anxiety. Australian Shepherds tend to form strong bonds with their owners and therefore can develop separation anxiety when left alone. However, with crate training, an Aussie can be calm and confident whenever they are by themselves.

Selecting the Right Crate For Your Aussie

The AKC recommends choosing a crate that’s durable, comfortable, and flexible for your puppy. A more enclosed crate is recommended for dogs that prefer to sleep in the dark while wire crates work best for other dogs. Furthermore, it is recommended that you buy a crate that is not too big for your dog. Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs that measure from 20 to 23 inches in height. So, it is advisable to buy the right crate for their adult size.

Introducing the Crate

Once you get the crate, it is time to start familiarizing your Aussie puppy with it. Whatever you do, try to make the crate a positive space for your puppy instead of a negative one. In other words, your puppy should view this confinement area as a place to relax rather than as punishment. Your Aussie puppy will ultimately enjoy hanging out in the crate if they are associated with it with a relaxed mindset. 

The AKC, for example, advises against putting a puppy in a crate when they’re playing. That's because the puppy would want to come back out and continue playing. On the other hand, if you put your puppy in the crate when they’re calm, they will likely view it as a place of relaxation.

More importantly, your puppy should never have a collar or tag or anything on when they’re in the crate. That's because the dog could strangle if the tag gets caught in the crate.

Crate Training Your Australian Shepherd Puppy

An Australian Shepherd Puppy eating inside a crate

For starters, the AKC recommends feeding your puppy meals inside the crate. That way, you are helping your puppy by associating their confinement area with good things. You can also set aside special toys that your Aussie puppy only gets inside their crate. Furthermore, you can also spend some time playing with your puppy in the crate, provided the area is large enough. For example, when playing fetch with your puppy, you can throw the ball in the crate for the dog to fetch. Or, you can hide treats inside the crate for your puppy to find. When your puppy begins to enter their crate on their own, then your training has started working!

You can now start by closing your Aussie puppy in the crate with a chew or interactive toy, then quietly walking out of the room. The AKC recommends setting up a remote dog camera to determine what your puppy does while you’re gone. Whatever their reactions are, whether anxious, pacing, or calm, you should return immediately and reward them with praise and a treat. Repeat the process and gradually increase the time span each time you are away. You can begin with two minutes and then increase the time according to how your puppy reacts to being left alone in the crate.

Whenever you return to check on your puppy, don’t make too much fuss, as you don't want them to miss you when you leave the room. If your puppy is quiet and calm in the crate, reward them with low-key praise and a treat. Subsequently, leave the room to continue the countdown. If your puppy is crying in their crate, the AKC advises against making a habit of letting them out. Doing so will teach your Aussie puppy that whining opens the door and gains attention. Rather, it is recommended that you shorten the pup's time in the crate to what they can handle, and build the time more slowly.

Once your Aussie puppy is confident on their own, you can start giving them access to your home one room at a time while you are away. If your training is successful, your Aussie puppy will hopefully grow into a relaxed and self-assured adult dog that can be trusted with more freedom.

How Long Does it Take to Crate Train an Australian Shepherd?

Training a dog, regardless of age and breed, requires patience, consistency, and persistence. With that in mind, you should be ready to spend at least six months crate-training your Aussie puppy. Fortunately, Australian Shepherds are very smart and eager to please, which makes training them relatively easy. Even when it seems like you are not making progress, success will come eventually, as long as you stay calm and consistent in your methodology.

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