Crate training is not putting your dog/puppy in a cage or jail, and you are not being cruel if you follow these tips.
Dogs feel secure in small, enclosed spaces, like a den. Dog crates make excellent dens. It is a safe place for them to stay when you're away or when you cannot watch him.
Watch your own dog around home. Where do you find him napping in his deepest sleep? Under the table, desk, chair? Yes, somewhere out of the traffic pattern where he has a roof overhead and a little privacy. A crate offers security, a den with a roof, and a place to call his very own where he can go to get away from it all.
There are basically just a few steps in "crate" training and they are as follows:
PREPARING THE CRATE
Toys and Treats:
Place your puppy's favorite toys and dog treats at the far end of the crate. Toys and balls should always be inedible and large enough to prevent their being swallowed. Any fragmented toys should be removed to prevent choking and internal obstruction. You may also place a sterilized marrow bone filled with cheese or dog treats in the crate. Water: A small bowl of water should be attached to the crate if your puppy is to be confined for more than two hours in the crate.
Place a towel or blanket inside the crate to create a soft, comfortable bed for the puppy. If the puppy chews the towel, remove it to prevent the pup from swallowing or choking on the pieces. Although most puppies prefer lying on soft bedding, some may prefer to rest on a hard, flat surface, and may push the towel to one end of the crate to avoid it. If the puppy urinates on the towel, remove bedding until the pup no longer eliminates in the crate.
Location of Crate:
Whenever possible, place the crate near or next to you when you are home. This will encourage the pup to go inside it without his feeling lonely or isolated when you go out. A central room in your home (i.e.: living room or kitchen) or a large hallway near the entrance is a good place to crate your puppy.
INTRODUCING THE CRATE TO YOUR PUPPY
In order that your puppy associate his/her kennel crate with comfort, security and enjoyment, please follow these guidelines:
1. Occasionally throughout the day, drop small pieces of treats or dog biscuits in the crate. While investigating his new crate, the pup will discover edible treasures, thereby reinforcing his positive associations with the crate. You may also feed him in the crate to create the same effect. If the dog hesitates, it often works to feed him in front of the crate, then right inside the doorway and then, finally, in the back of the crate.
2. In the beginning, praise and pet your pup when he enters. Do not try to push, pull or force the puppy into the crate. At this early stage of introduction only inductive methods are suggested. Overnight exception: You may need to place your pup in his crate and shut the door upon retiring. (In most cases, the crate should be placed next to your bed overnight. If this is not possible, the crate can be placed in the kitchen, bathroom or living room.)
3. It is advisable first to crate your pup for short periods of time while you are home with him. In fact, crate training is best accomplished while you are in the room with your dog. Getting him used to your absence from the room in which he is crated is a good first step. This prevents an association being made with the crate and your leaving him/her alone.
A NOTE ABOUT CRATING PUPPIES
Puppies under 4 months of age have little bladder or sphincter control. Puppies under 3 months have even less. They usually need to go 8 to 12 times daily or more. While crating puppies of this age they should be monitored closely for toileting reasons.
1. Warm Weather:
Do not crate a puppy or dog when temperatures reach an uncomfortable level. Cold water should always be available to puppies, especially during warm weather. Never leave an unsupervised dog inside a car during warm weather.
2. Accidents In The Crate
Be certain that your puppy has fully eliminated shortly before being crated. If your pup continues to eliminate in the crate, the following may be the causes:
- The pup is too young to have much control.
- The pup has a poor or rich diet, or very large meals.
- The pup did not eliminate prior to being confined.
- The pup has worms.
- The pup has gaseous or loose stools.
- The pup drank large amounts of water prior to being crated.
- The pup has been forced to eliminate in small confined areas prior to crate training.
- The pup/dog is suffering from a health condition or illness (i.e., bladder infection, prostate problem, etc.)
- The puppy or dog is experiencing severe separation anxiety when left alone.
If your puppy messes in his crate while you are out, do not punish him upon your return. Simply wash out the crate using a pet odour neutralizer. Do not use ammonia-based products, as their odour resembles urine and may draw your dog back to urinate in the same spot again.
CRATING DURATION GUIDELINES
*NOTE: Except for overnight or traveling, neither puppies nor dogs should be crated for more than 3 hours at a time.
*NOTE: Sufficient daily exercise is important for healthy puppies and dogs. Regular daily walks should be offered as soon as a puppy is fully vaccinated.
NEVER use the crate as punishment: Never use the crate as a form of punishment or reprimand for your puppy or dog. This simply causes the dog to fear and resent the crate. If correctly introduced to his crate, your puppy should be happy to go into it at any time. You may however use the crate as a brief time-out for your puppy as a way of discouraging nipping or excessive rowdiness.
CHILDREN AND THE CRATE
Do not allow children to play in your dog's crate or to handle your dog while he/she is in the crate. The crate is your dog's private sanctuary. His/her rights to privacy should always be respected.
BUYING A CRATE
Crates can be purchased through most pet supply outlets.
THE COST OF A CRATE.
Crates can cost around $150 to $180 depending on the size and the type of the crate. (Never buy a second hand crate unless you know the medical history of the last dog using it).
ALTERNATIVE METHODS OF CONFINING YOUR PUPPY
There are alternative methods to crating very young puppies and puppies who must be left alone in the house for extended lengths of time.
We suggest the following: Use a small to medium-sized room space such as a kitchen, large bathroom or laundry with non- porous floor. Set up the crate on one end, the food and water a few feet away, and some newspaper (approx. 2'x3' to 3'x3') using a 3 to 4 layer thickness, several feet away. Confine your puppy to this room or area using a 3 ft. high, safety-approved child's gate rather than shutting off the opening by a solid door. Your pup will feel less isolated if it can see out beyond its immediate place of confinement. Puppy proof the area by removing any dangerous objects or substances.