top of page

Puppy Prep Course

A complimentary guide to help you navigate the first few weeks with your puppy.

It's no secret... we have a passion for puppies. There is something so special about puppies joining our lives. These little blank slates are so full of potential, and we've made it our mission to help families raise their perfect puppy. 

It isn't always easy. If this is your first time raising a puppy, there is a lot to learn! But don't worry, we all started somewhere and we're here to help. The goal of this course is to prepare you for the first few weeks with your puppy and make sure that you have the information you need to make great choices, reduce  your stress, and give your puppy the best start possible. 

This guide is intended to compliment our Harmony School day training program. Be sure to reach out to chat with one of our Professional Trainers about in-person training options. 

Crate Training

Crate training is an important life skill that all dogs benefit from. Even if you don’t plan to use a crate in your dog’s daily life, they will almost certainly have a need to be crated at some point in their lives. Whether it’s a trip to the groomer or the veterinarian, making sure that your dog has the experience and training necessary to accept the crate without stress is extremely important. We owe it to our dogs to prepare them for the demands they will face in lives, and crate training is an essential part of raising any puppy.

Crate training should begin as soon as your puppy comes home. In some cases, a puppy’s breeder or rescue group will have already started the puppy with crate training. In these cases, your puppy might come with a bit of crate experience for you to shape and reinforce. Even if your puppy has come with some crate training experience, you’ll want to begin at the first step to make sure that your puppy is happy and confident with what you’re asking of them before moving on.

Introducing the Crate

As you can see in the video below, Shanni lets Squish decide to enter the crate, and only attempts to close the door when he is comfortable entering the crate and is settled in, chewing on his bone. As soon as he shifts focus to the outside world, the crate door is opened and he is able to choose to leave the crate if he desires. We want to provide our puppy with options and allow them to make the choice themselves. We aren’t asking them to do anything, we aren’t luring them into the crate or forcing them to go inside, we’re simply presenting them with a choice that has a built-in reward. When your dog is empowered to make a choice to do something, they are more likely to continue making that choice in that future assuming the choice is rewarding. Our goal for this initial session is to have the puppy choose to enter the crate so that they can start viewing it as a happy, safe, rewarding area that is there for them to enjoy.

Let the Training Begin!

Once your puppy is familiar with the crate, the actual crate training will begin. In the video below, you will see that Shanni begins by offering Squish treats for entering the crate. He is free to exit the crate and free to make the choice to enter the crate again to pick up treats. Once the puppy is comfortable entering the crate, the door will start to close and we will begin working on duration inside of the crate. In this 2nd step of crate training, Shanni is feeding squish treats inside of the crate and will let him out when he is quiet and sitting. In the third step of the training process, the rate of reinforcement will be lowered so that Squish is spending more time in the crate without being distracted and rewarded by the food. Shanni offers Squish a tasty and engaging chew so that he has something to focus on while inside of the crate with the door closed.





In Step 4, Squish is happy to enter the crate and is actively engaged with his chew. He is supervised while chewing so that he can be released from the crate before he starts stressing and asking to come out. At this point, the high value chew that Squish is enjoying is only offered to him inside of the crate area to help build value and positively reinforce his acceptance of the crate.

It is very important not to spend time acknowledging the exit from the crate. We don’t want to inadvertently build value in our puppy leaving the crate by greeting them excitedly, petting, and praising them. We want the most positive experience to be inside of the crate, and leave everything else neutral.

As you follow these steps for crate training, remember to offer your puppy high-value treats and chews inside of the crate, and to reduce your active rewarding over time. Ideally, once your puppy is happy and engaged with the chew inside of their crate, you can begin increasing the duration without lingering too close to their crate. If your puppy shows discomfort with any part of the process, repeat the previous steps in the training to increase comfort with the crate and add value to entering it and settling down.

In the next section of our Puppy Prep Course, we will discuss the potty training process.

bottom of page