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Why to Crate Train a Puppy
Dog crates can serve many purposes, but two stand above all others- potty training and safety.
Anyone who has raised a puppy knows they are like small human children, and must be watched constantly or the puppy could chew up electrical cables, bedding, chew the paint off walls (yes- that too), or swallow small objects that can pose a choking hazard. It is in the puppy’s best interest to be crated when it can’t be monitored, if only to keep the puppy safe.
How to Choose a Good Dog Crate
Consider a well ventilated crate large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around in easily. Bear in mind as your puppy grows (and they do grow fast), he will need more room. It’s usually a good idea to invest in a full size crate adjusted for his expected adult growth! If your dog is a mixed breed, consider the expected size of the larger breed in the mix.
Also, try to avoid purchasing an overly large crate. Too much room might allow for your puppy to make a mess without disturbing his immediate bedding.
Crate Training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s past experiences. In the case of shelter dogs, workers sometimes can’t get to the puppy in time; proper training may take longer because the dog is used to eliminating in his enclosure.
Crating and Potty Training
Dogs prefer not to relieve themselves in small confined areas or where they sleep. In the crate, your puppy will hold his bladder as long as he can. Bear in mind- that is a very small and underdeveloped bladder; your puppy will need frequent potty breaks.
Make it Comfortable
Don’t think of your puppy’s crate as a cage, but more of a comfy doggy den! Make sure the bottom is lined with soft blankets or other comfortable material. Leave a favorite toy or two in your dog crate. Most of all- never, ever, associate your crate with punishment. In order for your training to run smoothly, you’ll want your little one to enjoy his little den!
Start Small & Familiarize
This is possibly both the most important step to the training process and the most neglected. In order to avoid anxiety from developing, you absolutely must be patient and let your puppy become accustomed to his or her crate. In other words, don’t start off the bat crating for hours at a time unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
Begin by letting your puppy inspect the crate with the door open. After you do this once or twice, start out by creating your pup for short 5,10 or 20 minute intervals while you are in the room. After you’ve done this a few times, you can begin crating and leaving the room for short durations.
If you have to work on Monday, try starting out Friday after you return home. In order to create further pleasant associations, begin feeding your dog in his crate at feeding time.
Be sure to set a potty training/ crating schedule for your puppy to help familiarize them to the process!
Your Puppy’s Perspective
Dogs all too often developed separation anxiety, sometimes to an extreme, possibly even causing injury in attempts to escape or tearing up blanketing to confetti, because owners start out by caging them for day- long periods. Remember, dogs do not understand why they are being caged, and often think their pack- family member and parent has left them, never to return. How would you feel if you were placed in a small cell with no explanation or other human contact?
The entire idea behind this gradual process is to give your puppy time to adjust, showing him or her you will always return and he doesn’t need to worry. Remember to crate various times throughout the day to help your puppy familiarize himself to the process!
Introduce your dog to the crate.
Begin crating while you are in the room.
Feed your dog meals in the crate.
Start leaving the room.
Slowly lengthen crating periods (with appropriate bathroom breaks).
Begin crating your puppy when you leave.
Crate your puppy at night.
Why Never to Use the Crate as a Punishment
Comfortability ranks right up there with familiarity and patience above. You always want your puppy to form positive associations with his crate at all times! If you crate your puppy directly after chastisement, he will learn ‘crate means my parent is upset; I don’t like the crate because I don’t want the parent to be upset’.
A Small Bladder
Crate training a puppy is different from crate training an adult dog. Even if you have to work, expect to come home to soiled bedding if you leave your puppy crated all day. Small puppies are still growing and developing, and need frequent potty breaks.
On the other hand, it is a good idea to begin crating your puppy overnight. He will probably whine at first, and you probably won’t get a full night’s rest (but that is to be expected for any young puppy owner). Most puppies should be able to sleep the entire night without a potty break by 4 months of age.
- Barring sleep, puppies under 6 months of age shouldn’t stay crated for more than 3-4 hours at a time (Humane Society)
- It is said puppies can be crated without potty breaks for their age (months) in hours plus one. Ex.- 3 months = 4 hours
- In order to properly develop social skills, puppies shouldn’t be separated from litter mates prior to four weeks. Many experts recommend no less than eight weeks.
Ask a Professional for Advice
If you have any questions about the above information, please contact us. Or if you would like to inquire about training options where our professionals train your puppy for you at our facility, please call us today at 832-930-0073!