Crate Training for Puppies
Crate training is not cruel nor should it be punishment for Puppy. A
crate the proper size for Puppy is: a safe place to be while
sleeping; safety when you are not around to watch him; a place to eat
uninterrupted; a place to go to get away from it all. Dogs are den
animals and many like a place they can curl up in and feel secure.
WHY USE A CRATE?
You can leave Puppy or Doggy home alone with peace of mind. He is
comfortable and not forming bad or destructive habits. He also is not
going to be confused by your reactions to bad behavior when you
return. Remember, dogs do not have the reasoning humans do. When we
return and see the garbage rooted through and then punish Puppy,
chances are he will not realize what you are punishing him for. He
may think you are punishing him for something completely different.
Crates also make house training easier. Puppies and dogs generally
will not soil their sleeping and eating area. Used with a consistent
schedule, a crate can be your best ally with house training. Crates
offer safety when traveling. A dog in a crate is far less likely to
be injured in an accident. A crate keeps your dog from bouncing
around, getting on your lap, blocking your view or even getting under
the driver’s feet! If crating while driving is not possible, at least
train Puppy to lie quietly in the back seat or use a doggy seat belt
available at many pet supply places.
WHAT A CRATE IS NOT!
A crate is not a substitute for human companionship. Use of a crate
should be limited to no more than eight hours, less for a younger
animal. If your work schedule is longer than that, consider getting a
dog walker to exercise Puppy or Doggy for you midday. There are also
Dog Day Care centers cropping up! Crates are not to be used for
punishment. The crate must be viewed by Puppy as a safe place to be.
Do not allow your children to torment Puppy while crated. Make sure
he has fresh water, a sturdy bed and safe toys (rotate toys daily so
he always has different ones and a different combination).
HOW TO MEASURE A CRATE.
If buying for an adult dog, get a crate big enough that he can fit in
from tip of nose to base of tail (a few inches longer in each
direction). He should be able to stand up, sit, turn and lie down on
his side stretched out comfortably. If buying for a puppy, get one
that will fit him as an adult. Some manufacturers even make crate
dividers so you can expand the crate area as Puppy grows. If in doubt
of size, I opt for the next size up. A crate slightly too large is
better than one too small!
WHERE TO PUT THE CRATE.
Put the crate in a people area such as family room, kitchen or even
the bedroom. You do not want your dog to feel banished when crated so
the cellar or garage is no good.
WHERE TO GET A CRATE.
Many pet supply and feed stores carry crates or you can mail order
them. Do not be put off by the cost – crates are far less expensive
than replacing a shredded couch or even carpet cleaning by a
professional company. Some crates are quite reasonably priced. You
can even find them at yard sales!!! (Make certain all the hardware is
there and the door latches correctly and securely). PetsMart, PetCo,
various pet supple and feed stores generally carry crates. If you
wish to check out mail orders, a few places to get catalogs from are:
Cherrybrook 1-800-524-0820, www.cherrybrook.com; Mid-West Metal
Products, 1-800-428-8560; Doctors Foster & Smith, 1-800-826-7206,
drsfostersmith.com; New England Serum Company, 1-800-637-3786,
www.neserum.com. Or else, check out your local dog shows. Often
vendors selling a myriad or doggy items will be there. I have
purchased many an item from dog shows – including crates! For a list
of upcoming dog shows nationwide, check out INFODOG.COM!
INTRODUCING THE CRATE
First remove your dog’s collar so he will not get caught. It happens
rarely, by why take the risk. NEVER crate a dog with a choke collar
on. Choke collars should NEVER be used for everyday use – they are
for training and walks only, then should be removed. The same for a
pinch collar! Set up the crate in the place you wish to keep it.
Encourage your dog or puppy to enter the crate by enticing him with
bits of food. Use something he cannot resist like cooked chicken or
hot dog slices. Praise as he enters. Let him walk in and out a few
times. Now start to encourage him to lie down quietly and relax. Give
him a couple safe toys and close the door. Sit with him and talk
softly. Let him out. Now start to leave for a short time. Even if he
cries and whines, do not weaken. He should adjust to the crate
eventually. Just keep making it a positive experience.
HOW LONG TO USE THE CRATE.
Some dogs can never be trusted with run of the house unattended. Some
dogs are fine. If you think your dog is able to behave uncrated,
begin testing by leaving his loose for five minutes while you walk
outside. If that works, increase to ten, fifteen and so on. Should he
begin to misbehave, continue using the crate. It is safer for Doggy
and saner for you!
CRATES AS A HOUSE TRAINING AIDE.
Always have a feeding and potty schedule for your puppy or adult dog.
This makes house training much easier. If you are not able to be with
Puppy, put him in the crate. Take him out on lead and encourage him
to go potty. Once he does, praise lavishly and bring back inside.
Should he not go, put him back in the crate and try again in a little
bit. Dogs do not like to soil their beds as a rule. Should he soil
the crate, take him out while someone cleans the crate. Do not punish
for eliminating in the house unless you catch him in the act. DO NOT
rub his nose in it or hit him. Just give a loud, firm,
growly “AAAAAH! NO!!!” and get him out immediately. Try to get him to
potty outside and then praise lavishly when he goes. Remember, the
younger the Puppy, the smaller the bladder capacity. It is
unreasonable to ask a young puppy to hold an eight-hour day. Consider
a dog walker for a midday potty break. Also, sometimes older dogs
have bladder control issues. Sudden house soiling in a dog without
problems could be a sign of an underlying problem such as a bladder
infection. Unaltered or spayed dogs are also more apt to soil in the
house. Males if not neutered have a greater chance of wanting to mark
their territory and may do so inside. I also know females who mark.
Do not paper train or use those pads designed for puppy to eliminate
on. This only teaches Puppy it is OK to potty in the house. Paper
training could actually delay house training.
From Karen Peak of West Wind Dog Training,