How To Crate Train A Lab Puppy And Why It’s A Good Idea?

Last Updated on January 19, 2022 by Griselda M.

Here’s a somewhat controversial topic – how to crate train a lab puppy and why it’s a good idea. For some reason, a lot of people are still hesitant when it comes to dog crates. Yet, dog kennels and crates have so many benefits for your dog and your life together that they are virtually a must-have if you want to give your pet the best possible life. Here’s what you need to know about dog crates and kennels.

How To Crate Train A Lab Puppy?

The step-by-step process of how to crate train a lab puppy is quite simple. Labrador Retrievers are especially easy to crate train as they have strong den instincts. Here’s what you’d want to do:

Step 1

  • Put the crate in the intended place and don’t move it. The crate’s location must be constant. Place it somewhere secluded but not entirely isolated. The ideal place for a crate should be near the living room or your home office area but not in the most lively place in the house.

Step 2

  • Let your puppy explore it freely for a few days. Don’t force the dog in and don’t put it inside. Instead, just reward your dog with a pat on the head every time it’s in the crate, toss in a “Good boy/girl!”, and maybe add a treat too.

Step 3

  • Start establishing a routine of napping inside the crate. Once the pup is comfortable with it just start leading the pup there when it’s time for a nap. If your pup has a favorite nappy blanket or a comfort toy, you should add them inside the crate too.

Step 4

  • As the pup gets comfortable in the crate, start closing the door. This is just to get the dog used to the idea that the closed door is not a big deal. You obviously shouldn’t always close the crate’s door with the dog inside. Instead, you should train your pup that it’s not bad when the crate is closed. If your dog is whining a bit at first, that’s fine – just go to the next room and wait for it to calm down. If the pup is especially distraught, come back and open the door. Then, try again later when the pup is feeling nappier.

Step 5

  • Remember to open the crate again after no more than 1 or 2 hours. Puppies can’t hold their bladders for too long and they don’t nap uninterrupted for hours either.

crate size for labrador

And that’s it. After a while, your pup should get used to the crate and feel perfectly fine with it.

What’s The Best Crate For A Labrador Puppy?

Before you delve too deep into figuring out how to crate train a lab puppy, you should figure out what’s the right crate size for Labrador dogs and for your pet in particular. We’ve discussed the right crate size for labs before in this article but let’s go over the cliff notes once again.

The perfect crate for any dog is one that allows your pet to sit and lie comfortably. At the same time, however, a good crate should be just big enough for sitting and lying and not any more than that. This is key as the purpose of the crate is essential to serve as a den for the dog or a second – more secluded – bed.

The length/depth of the crate should be equivalent to the nose-to-tail length of your (adult) dog plus a few extra inches for comfort. The width of the crate should be roughly 60% to 70% of its depth. As for the height – just measure your dog’s height in a sitting position and add a couple of inches on top. Again – that’s the sitting height and it’s measured to the top of the head, not the shoulders.

Aside from the size, you should also look for a crate that’s comfortable, and durable. Then, add a nice and comfy bed inside.

How to pick a crate for a still-growing puppy?

Dogs grow up pretty quickly but the whole process still takes a few months. So, should you just get several differently-sized crates? No, the much easier solution is to get a crate that’d be suitable for your dog’s expected adult size. Then, just put a barrier inside the crate and temporarily restrict its size to be better-suited for the pup.

This way you won’t have to buy a second crate later on. Instead, you can start getting your pup used to its long-term crate right away.

Why Should You Crate Train Your Pup?

Crate or kennel training a lab puppy does draw some controversy. After all, why do you need a crate if you already have a dog bed? Simple – the crate acts as the dog’s “den”. Wild dogs and wolves are den animals. They have wider territories and favorite spots in them but the small and secluded underground den is the safest place for the canine as well as where it raises its young.

So, even if your pet has multiple dog beds, they still aren’t enclosed and cozy enough to function as a den. Here comes the crate – it acts as your dog’s safest place. That’s very useful in times of stress or when you have guests. It’s also great if there are kids or other pets around, or when your dog is sick or feeling unwell. Crates are also useful for traveling as well as for housebreaking/potty training.

how to crate train a lab puppy

You can also use a crate to temporarily isolate your dog or restrict its movements if it’s injured. These last two parts are what make crates controversial – some people view them as cruel tools for punishment. Obviously, you should never use a crate like that. Instead, they should be your dog’s most loved and safest place in your home. Only use the crate as a rare and temporary isolation tool in specific situations.

The dog should never be forced inside the crate nor should the crate ever be used to deal with separation anxiety.

In Conclusion, Why And How To Crate Train A Lab Puppy?

Crate training is an invaluable tool in any dog owner’s arsenal. It helps with your dog’s mental health, potty training, traveling, and other issues. You should never use a crate for forced isolation, punishment, or separation anxiety, of course. Instead, it should serve as a multi-functional dog den.

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