Crate Training Your Dog

A client of mine asked me about crate training a dog. She felt it is cruel to put the dog in the crate where they are confined in such a small area. Well, it could be cruel, if it it is not done properly. Crate training your dog is a great potty training technique, and definitely has its benefits.

Here is how I answered her.

One of the best things you can do for your dog and for you is to integrate crate training into your lives. It takes time and patience, but it will be well worth it. Some people protest the use of crates and think it’s cruel. Remember that they’re thinking in terms of being human, not a dog.

We humans might not like being in an enclosed space, but dogs think differently. If properly trained, dogs will think positively about their crates, viewing them as safe havens just for them.

The idea behind crate training is that the dog should view the crate as his den, somewhere where he feels safe and comfortable. It’s a place he doesn’t mind going to when you ask him to, or when he just feels like it.

For you, this is a safe, convenient way to confine and control your dog. The crate is a great tool for times when you are out of the house and need to leave your dog unsupervised. And with your dog used to a crate, traveling in a car while in a crate will be no problem.

First, choose an appropriate crate for your dog. You want the crate to become your dog’s “den,” so pick one that he can stand up and turn around in comfortably. But you don’t want it too large so that he might be tempted to use one corner as a toilet. Place it somewhere where it’s quiet, but also in a room where he can still be part of the family.

Introduce your dog to its crate by leaving it out with the door open. Put a soft piece of material, such as a towel or blanket, inside, unless you are potty training him. In this case, do not add any bedding. You can also put his favorite toys inside.

Entice your dog into investigating his new den by placing a treat into it. When he does go inside, give him plenty of praise and affection. You always want your dog to associate pleasant, positive feelings with the crate.

Leave the crate door open in the beginning. Just let your dog go in and out as he pleases. As time goes on, use treats and a command, such as “crate time,” to show your dog you want him to enter the crate.

You can feed your dog near or in the crate, creating more positive association with the crate. While he’s
eating, you can begin closing the door for a few minutes at a time. Do this several times a day.

As your dog gets accustomed to the door being closed, increase the time you have it closed. Stay by the crate at first, then leave for a few minutes at a time. Remember not to do too much too soon. Take your time and be patient. This whole process may take weeks.

When your dog can stay in the crate comfortably and happily for a half an hour or more, you can leave the house for a time. When you leave the house and when you come home, don’t make a big production out of it. Keep arrivals and departures low-key and quiet.

Also crate the dog from time to time when you’re still in the house so your dog doesn’t think being crated means being alone.

If you’ve progressed to crating him at night, you might want to keep the crate in or near your bedroom so you can hear him make noise when he needs to eliminate. When you do let him out, make sure he knows it’s just for a potty break. Take him straight outside and give your usual command for going potty.

If your dog is still a puppy, keep in mind that he will need to go potty every two hours or so, depending on his age. Since a dog will tend not use his “den” as a toilet, you will have to pay attention to the time your puppy spends in the crate and let him out for potty breaks.

The crate is not a ‘set it and forget it’ type of deal. You are responsible for the proper use of the crate and
the care for your dog.

Puppies younger than nine weeks should not be crated. Always let your dog go potty before crating and try not to crate any age dogs longer than six hours. Also, limit the amount of water your dog drinks before going into his crate. Let him drink, but allow him time to go potty after drinking and before going into the crate.

If your dog cries when in the crate, and you have followed all the rules about drinking water and making sure he has done his potty, do not let him out. He is crying for attention and trying to manipulate you. If you let him out,he will figure out that if he wants to be let out, all he has to do is cry. Let him out only when he has stopped crying. This will be his reward.

Never use the crate as a punishment. You might be tempted to send your dog into the crate as a “time out” when he’s been naughty, but that will only create problems and negative association with the crate. Correct the bad behavior, replace it with a good behavior, and carry on as normal.

The crate is not a replacement for proper training. If you need help with crate training, ask a reputable dog
trainer.

Crate Training as a Puppy Potty Training Technique

One of the toughest times a new puppy owner has to go through is when you first bring your puppy home and have to potty train him. This is something that takes time, patience, and a good sense of humor. The following technique will make that task a little bit easier on you and puppy.

Take Time to Crate Train Your Puppy

I think that one of the best ways to avoid the frustrations of new puppy ownership, and one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your new pet is to crate train him. Crate training takes some discipline, but it’s well worth the time and effort in the long run. It is probably the best way to potty train your puppy, and it will come in handy in situations like transporting your pet.

First, get your puppy an appropriate dog crate. There are plastic and metal dog crates available in different sizes. Choose the best size for your puppy, one that is large enough for him to stand and turn around in.
Don’t get one that is so large that your puppy can just go to one end of the crate and go potty.

You want your dog to view this as his new home or den. Dogs will avoid soiling their own dens. If you get a
large crate in anticipation of your puppy growing, just block off the back part of the crate. Remember to put a soft towel or blanket in the crate.

Encourage your pup to go into the crate with a treat and/or toy. An interesting toy, such a Kong filled with peanut butter will keep your dog engaged and happy in the crate. Leave the door open and praise him when he goes inside and stays there. Don’t force the pup into the crate. Remember, this new home is supposed to be a pleasant place for them, not a punishment. You can even feed your puppy in the crate to create a positive association for him.

When the animal is comfortable being in the crate, close the door and leave it closed for progressively longer periods of time. Begin leaving the puppy alone in the closed crate and gradually lengthen the time you
are away from the crate. Make sure that your puppy has gone potty before you begin this training. This is very important to avoid your puppy having an accident.

If your puppy whines, don’t immediately comfort him and let him out. That just teaches them that if they whine, they get what they want. Ignore the whining. (I know it’s hard!) Let your puppy out only when
he is quiet and calm. Remember, you had your puppy do all his potty before starting this training, so you know his whining is not due to this.

A well-exercised puppy will probably make it easier to crate train, so be sure to keep up a consistent routine of exercise and play. A tired puppy means a quieter, calmer puppy that will more than likely just curl up and nap in the crate.

When you do let him out, don’t make a big deal out of it. You don’t want your puppy to think that being outside of the crate is the better, happier situation.

One of the biggest challenges with a puppy is potty training. Crate training makes this task much easier to handle. Young pups need to eliminate every 2 to 4 hours. Let your puppy out of the crate and outside to go potty on a regular schedule, like first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bedtime. This teaches the puppy a routine that will last throughout his life.

When letting the pup out of the crate to eliminate, put him on a leash and go immediately to the potty area. Give him 5 to 10 minutes to do his business. If he doesn’t go, put him back into the crate. Wait for about another 15 minutes, and try again. Depending on your puppy’s age, when he ate or drank, and the last time he went potty, adjust your waiting time in between taking him out to do his business.

If he does go, praise him, give him treats, and play with him. You can even let him play in the house freely for a time, with your supervision of course.

Keep your puppy crated during the night. You will probably have to let him out in the middle of the night for a potty break, but that hardship won’t last too long. Puppies grow fast and soon he will be able to hold it for longer periods of time.

As for leaving your puppy in the crate when you leave the house, remember that young dogs need to eliminate every few hours, so arrange to come home, have a neighbor check in, or hire a pet sitter to make sure your puppy is taken care of.

Crate training your puppy is an excellent way to house train your puppy. And, when done properly, your dog should love his crate.

What is the Secret to Potty Training a Puppy?

Is there just one secret? Hmmm… 

That’s a good question. Is it crate training? Is it simply keeping an eye on them at all times? Is it a feeding, water, and potty schedule that is the secret? Maybe, you need to have a dogwalker come in during the day to help you.

Well, all four of those are very essential to quickly and easily potty training your puppy. There are other so called ‘secrets’ as well, but there is one absolute, positive secret that will help you in your puppy potty training.

Want to know what is is? Of course you do!

The one secret is that you MUST be consistent. No matter which tools you use, which procedures you follow, you must stick with them, and use them over and over again. You cannot concentrate on the potty training one minute, and then have a ‘whatever’ attitude the next minute.

If you are true to yourself, and to your puppy, and follow the proper potty training procedures every waking minute, and follow them properly, it will only be a matter of days before your puppy is fully potty trained.

Let me know what you think.