Crate training puppies might not seem like the most important part of dog training, but it's very useful and should be done as early as possible. A crate-trained puppy can be taken almost anywhere. On top of that, your puppy can be left alone without destroying the house, carpet and furniture.
It's very likely that at some point in your dog's life you will want or need to transport it in a crate. Being stuffed in a crate it has never seen before is very unpleasant for a dog, so it's best to start getting your Jack Russell used to its crate from its puppy days.
The Importance of Crate Training a Puppy
Dogs should never be taken in a car unrestrained. They can crawl all over you, which can be dangerous. Also, if you have an accident, there's nothing to stop your pup going straight through the front windshield. Keeping the puppy in a crate when you're in the car means you can belt the crate in place.
Your puppy's crate will be its home away from home if you ever have to travel by car, and having a puppy that's comfortable in his crate greatly reduces the risk of doggy travel sickness. Your puppy can have his toys, food and water all right there in his crate. Also, you want your puppy to be crate trained in case you ever want or need to take him on a plane - he will have to be confined to the crate for the trip.
Another obvious benefit of crate training a puppy is that you can leave the pup alone for a period of time without it chewing up everything in the house. Very handy for when you have to pop out to do the supermarket shopping or some other short errand.
How To Crate Train a Puppy
The easiest way to get your puppy comfortable in his crate is to use it as his bed. Feed your puppy inside the crate and put some nice warm bedding inside it to make it comfortable. You can also entice it into the crate with a favorite chew toy.
At first your puppy might be reluctant to go inside, even for food. In this case, leave the food dish just outside the door, and when the puppy gets comfortable after a few feedings, try putting the food inside the crate.
At first you don't want to lock the puppy inside the crate. Let it go freely in and out until it is starting to take to it as a place where it likes to rest. If you feed it in the crate and make it comfortable, this should only take a few days. Once the puppy seems comfortable in the crate, you can start locking the door. Only lock it for very short times at first, a few seconds or minutes depending on the puppy's reaction, and increase gradually until the puppy can stay inside for a few hours at a time.
Some puppies will be fine in the crate until you lock the door, then they will panic. In this case only lock it for a very short time at first, just a few seconds, and reward and praise immediately after.
Make sure you take your puppy out of the crate when it needs to go to the toilet. Puppies don't like to soil the place where they sleep, so your puppy will hold off from toileting inside the crate. The crate is a useful tool for housetraining puppies in this respect.
The purpose of crate training puppies is not so that you can simply leave them on their own. Puppies shouldn't be left in their crate for extended periods of time - you will need a puppy playpen if your puppy is going to be alone for more than an hour or two. Jack Russell puppies can be particularly prone to separation anxiety problems, so make sure you don't leave your pup wondering where you are for too long. Start with short times and build up. Never push too far beyond the puppy's comfort zone in one session.
If you try to skip the training and put your puppy in a crate and then leave it alone for hours at a time, it may develop anxiety problems which can lead to even bigger behavior problems further down the track, so take the time to crate train your puppy the right way. Don't rush the training. If you follow the advice here, crate training puppies should be a breeze.