Owning a puppy can be one of the greatest adventures a person can have! However, it can also become upsetting if your puppy is trained well and behaves great, only to begin regressing back to their pre-trained behaviors.
Regressing in crate training can be a very common and normal occurrence in a puppy’s life.
There are several reasons why puppies will begin regressing in their crate training. In this article, we will talk about why puppies will regress in their crate training, how to help this behavior, and tips and tricks that puppy owners have found work great!
If you are interested in learning more about puppy crate training regression, keep reading!
What is Crate Training?
Before we dive into what crate training regression is, let’s answer the question, “what is crate training?”
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Crate training involves training your puppy to associate their crate with a safe space. This can not only help lessen anxiety but can even help with potty training and behavioral training!
Crate training can be beneficial for all puppies and can provide many great benefits. Some of the most common benefits of crate training include:
- Easing anxiety and providing comfort — The crate becomes a safe space for the puppy where they can go if they are feeling overwhelmed or fearful.
- Providing Relaxation — Once the puppy becomes used to their crate, it is likely it will find its way into it, especially if they are in need of a nap!
- Easy transportation — Crates are one of the best methods to transport a puppy, it is an extra plus if they have already become comfortable with the crate.
- Easy potty training — Almost all puppy owners agree that crate training was a great step to take when helping their puppy with potty training.
NOTE: Puppies will become less likely to use the bathroom in a place that they associate with comfort, or that they sleep/eat in.
As long as a puppy owner crate trains their puppy correctly, it can be a game-changer in a puppy’s development. It is important not to use the crate as punishment, this can cause fear and aggression.
Crates should also not be used in place of the usual training that puppies receive; the crate only enhances the training that the puppy has already learned and experienced.
What is Crate Training Regression?
Although crate training is one of the most important and common methods of training that new or previous puppy owners tend to use, it does come with its struggles.
Many puppy owners have said that over time, their pups began regressing in their crate training, meaning that they began refusing to enter the crate, or began whining/barking after going into the crate.
Crate training regression can happen for many reasons including the puppy’s age, environment change, different smells, and many others!
Unfortunately, this frustrating occurrence is very normal. If you have ever owned a puppy, you may have noticed that they grow up and their personalities/behaviors change.
This is usually the cause of crate training regression. The puppy has grown up, changed, and now wants to test their owner’s boundaries. Refusing to go in its crate is one of the most common ways that a puppy will challenge its owner.
Most times puppies who begin regressing in their crate training are around 6 months of age; this is a normal age for puppies to begin showing behavioral changes and begin trying to test their owner’s boundaries and patience.
NOTE: It is ideal to begin crate training a puppy at least by 8 weeks of age, this way they will become comfortable with the crate and will be less likely to regress in their training; the longer you wait to train your puppy, the harder it will be.
Why is My Puppy Regressing in Crate Training?
It can come as a shock to some owners whose puppies are doing great with training, only for their pup to begin going backward with all the things they have been learning and doing great at.
Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case when it comes to puppies who are crate training.
Crate training regression for puppies usually happens solely because the puppy has changed. There can be many reasons for this including lack of sleep, discomfort with the crate, environment change, etc.
Sudden regression with crate training is very confusing for some puppy owners. Thankfully, there are many steps that can be taken to ensure this won’t happen, or if it does, to get the puppy back on track!
As stated above, there are many different reasons why a puppy may be regressing in their crate training. It is very important to try and figure out from the start what is causing your puppy to regress in its training.
NOTE: Even the simplest changes to a puppy’s environment, schedule, etc. can affect the way a puppy reacts to its crate.
Here are some simple changes that may be causing your puppy to regress in its crate training:
- Moving the location of the crate — If the location of the puppy’s crate has been changed, they may become confused or uncomfortable and refuse to enter it.
- Removing items from the crate — Removing items from the crate that the puppy associates with comfort and relaxation can cause the puppy to react negatively to the crate and refuse to go in it. Try not to remove items such as blankets, toys, etc. that the puppy uses for comfort.
- Inconsistent crate times — If you put your puppy inside the crate at random times, they may begin hesitating to go in it. It is important to maintain a schedule when it comes to using the crate. One of the most important steps of crate training is to put the puppy in the crate ONLY at specific times (like bedtime, or when the owner is leaving the house.)
- The crate smells different — Different scents inside the crate may cause the puppy to become unsure of the space. You may notice that your puppy is hesitating to go into the crate after you have cleaned it, try using no-scent cleaners that won’t cause an odor to be left behind inside the crate. If you put another dog inside the crate, your puppy may also refuse to go in because they don’t like that there is another dog’s scent inside their crate.
- There are strange sounds — If you notice your puppy regressing in their crate training, try looking around to see if there are any strange sounds that your pup may be hearing. Something as simple as leaving a bathroom fan that normally isn’t on can cause your puppy to become uncomfortable in the crate.
- Something is wrong with the crate — Something as simple as there being a loose screw inside the crate, or perhaps there is some grass or a bug inside the crate can cause a puppy to become scared or uncomfortable with entering the space. Make sure that the crate is secure and that there isn’t anything inside or outside of the crate that could be making your pup not want to go in.
There could also be more serious or complicated reasons why your puppy is regressing in its crate training, a lot of times it has to do with their sleeping habits.
Many puppies who are experiencing teething will be severely uncomfortable and unable to sleep, this is a big reason why some puppies will begin refusing to go in the crate, they are uncomfortable and hurting.
If your puppy is experiencing teething, check out this article to learn more about ways you can help your puppy be more comfortable: How to Help a Teething Puppy Sleep Through at Night
Overall built-up energy is another big cause of puppy crate training regression. As their personalities change, and they grow older, they may begin to have more energy; the last thing an energetic puppy wants to do is go inside a crate.
If your puppy seems to have built-up energy that is causing them to regress in their crate training, try exercising them or playing with them before putting them in the crate. This can wear them out enough to where they feel comfortable enough to go in the crate and take a break.
How do I Stop My Puppy from Regressing in Crate Training?
For a lot of puppy owners, it is very important to stop the regression of crate training as soon as they see their puppy trying to go backward with their training.
There are several steps that can be taken to stop a puppy from regressing in their crate training, most of the time this involves certain efforts from the owner including the use of different training methods, the owner’s behavior, etc.
Here are some steps that can be taken to help your puppy stay consistent with their crate training and not regress:
- Be patient and understanding with your puppy — If your puppy is regressing in its crate training, there is usually a reason. If they are uncomfortable with or scared of the crate, it is important to be patient and show them that there is nothing to be afraid of.
- Positive Reinforcement — This method of training is one of the most recommended by puppy owners and dog trainers. By rewarding the puppy (usually with treats) for using their crate consistently and in the right way, they will begin to associate the crate with positive rewards rather than the previous fears that had them regressing in their training.
TIP: If you are trying to give your puppy fewer treats and get them to go into the crate without them, try taking them away slowly, not all at once. Taking away treats too quickly can result in faster crate training regression.
- Redirection — If a puppy is regressing with their crate training, refusing to go in it, etc. try redirecting their behavior for a while towards other activities such as playing fetch, going for a walk, etc. then revisit the crate; after taking time away from the crate, they will be more likely to enter it with no issues and will feel more relaxed.
According to puppy owners, the most important step in getting a puppy to maintain its crate training and not regress is to provide overall comfort in the crate space.
There are many ways that comfort for a puppy within the crate can be provided, but here are some of the most common methods that puppy owners recommend:
- Turn on a fan/Sound machine — While sometimes noises will cause puppies to not want to go in the crate, other times they enjoy and are comforted by the consistent sounds, especially if these sounds are present from the start.
- Calming collar — These collars are known for helping ease a puppy’s anxiety and stress by releasing pheromones and scents that calm the puppy down.
- Calming bites — Very similar to the calming collar, calming bites can be used to help a puppy feel calm and safe while in their crate.
- Diffuser — Adding some calming essential oil scents such as lavender to a diffuser can not only make your house smell good but can also help calm an anxious puppy!
- Sleep music — Many puppy owners have said that turning on some comforting sleep music helps relax their puppy and they will sleep soundly inside their crate.
- Snuggle puppy — After hearing from many puppy owners, one consistent method amongst all owners was the helpfulness of the “snuggle puppy” when it comes to crate training. This adorable stuffed animal comes with a disposable warmer and a heartbeat sound that has been known to calm a puppy and put them right to sleep!
If your puppy is having trouble sleeping, or is experiencing sleep regression, check out this article for some helpful tips and tricks: Puppy Sleep Regression (Month by Month Guide)
While there is not a completely “right” way to ensure that your puppy will not regress in their crate training, if you take the correct steps, it is likely that your puppy will stay consistent and never have issues with their crate!
Crate training is one of the most effective methods of training when it comes to puppies, as long as it is done right, it can make a world of a difference!
TIP: If your puppy is really struggling with crate training and you can’t seem to figure out what to do, try visiting/asking your vet or a dog training professional, they will likely have some tips and tricks that can help!
Read these next: (All about puppy training and sleep patterns!)
Week-By-Week Puppy Training Schedule
When Do Puppies Sleep Through the Night? (Tips & Tricks!)
Puppy Sleep Regression (Month by Month Guide)
How to Help a Teething Puppy Sleep Through at Night
While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.