Crate training your Laborador retriever is the easiest way to potty train your puppy while also preventing everything in your home from becoming a chew toy. Making crate training a positive experience for your Lab will have him lounging in his new den in a matter of weeks.
Introduce the crate to your Lab puppy. Place the crate in the center of your living room with the door open. Create a cozy environment for your pup by enticing him with a comfortable blanket and chew toys toward the back of the crate. The Lab is a naturally curious breed that is likely to investigate the space. Boost his desire to enter the crate by throwing his favorite food treat in the back of the crate. Continue these steps for a few days.
Feed the Lab his meals inside the crate. Place the breakfast food bowl in the back of the crate and leave the door open. Allow him to eat his first meal with the crate door open. Place his evening meal into the crate with a couple delicious treats, such as cut up pieces of turkey hot dogs or liver treats. Once your Lab is inside the crate, close the door while he finishes the meal. Stay in the room while your Lab finishes eating with the door of the crate closed. If your Lab whines to come out of the crate, ignore the whining. Once your Lab is quiet and done eating, open the crate door.
Gradually increase your Lab's time spent in the crate. During the first few hours of crate training, crate your puppy for a matter of seconds. Lure your Lab into the crate with his favorite treat and close the door for 30 seconds and let him out if he's quiet. Increase the duration of time in the crate to five minutes with you in the room and continue to increase the duration in five-minute increments until your puppy is calm in the crate for 30 minutes with you in the room. Return to five-minute increments inside the crate, but with you out of the room. Gradually increase the time until your puppy can spend 30 minutes calmly inside the crate without you in the room.
- Give verbal praise by saying “Good dog!” whenever he is calm and quiet inside the crate.
- Create a command for the crate. Say “Crate time!” in an enthusiastic voice and give a treat when your Lab enters the crate. Your lab will soon go to his crate when you say “Crate time!”
- Always take your Lab outside to eliminate before placing him inside the crate.
- Always provide cold, fresh water--especially during warm temperatures.
- Remove your puppy's collar before putting him in the crate. Your Lab could choke to death if the collar gets caught on part of the crate.
- Never force or push your Lab inside the crate. This can create fear of the crate and prolong the training process.
- Do not leave an eight-week-old Lab inside a crate longer than 30 minutes. A puppy this young will have an accident inside his crate since an eight-week-old lab needs to relieve himself eight to 12 times per day.
- Always provide sufficient exercise. Crating your Lab and then not providing exercise leads to high strung behavior problems.
- Never let a whining Lab out of his crate. He soon learns that whining gets him what he wants.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.