Crate Training Tips for Your New Puppy

Crate training utilizes canine natural instincts as a tool for house training. By their nature, dogs will not soil their home; wild dogs will not soil their burrows or dens and domestics canines will not soil what they perceive to be their den.

In crate training, the crate serves as a surrogate den; a place of safety and comfort. When you understand this aspect of canine nature, it is easy to see why crate training is effective.

As hard as it is, the owner must use the crate from the very beginning to maximize the effect of crate training. Consistency is key to any training effort; consistently keep your new puppy in the crate except for potty excursions, play and chow time.

It may seem cruel to put puppy in a crate and leave him there. In reality you are giving puppy time to adjust to his new environment slowly and to understand that the crate is his space.

How large a crate does your puppy need?

If you are getting a crate for a puppy, it will grow. You need to buy a crate that your pup can easily stretch out to full length in and stand in the door without stooping. However, remember your new puppy will grow; get a crate you anticipate will be large enough that he can stretch out in and stand in the door of without stooping after he reaches full size. Your puppy will need a comforter or blanket in the crate along with some safe, chew toys to keep him busy.

Make sure the crate you choose is durable, cozy and doggy proof; that is, puppy cannot get out of it. Otherwise, you may come home to couch stuffing all over the living room one day. Also be sure to choose a crate that is easy to keep clean.

A good crate is handy to transport your puppy if you go to the vet or on holiday. Note, do not get a crate so large that your puppy decides to use one corner for a toilet. If he does, block off part of the crate and shrink his den to where he will not soil in it.

Crate training made easy

Your puppy is to be in his crate at all times during housetraining. As pack leader (you are the alpha, puppy is the submissive pack member) it is your responsibility to take him out on a schedule (tip; the puppy’s age in months plus1 = how many hours between potty opportunities) and make sure that puppy is given every chance to relieve himself outdoors or on paper if you are doing indoor potty training. By using puppy’s natural instinct to not relieve himself in his space, he will learn “hold it” and control his bladder.

Remember though, there is no way that a tiny puppy can make it all day without relieving itself. If you plan on crate training your new puppy but you are away from home all day at a job, this is the instance where a crate with extra room is mandatory.

In this case, place puppy’s water, toys and bedding at one end of the crate and some folded newspaper at the other so that puppy can relieve himself on the paper when he cannot hold it during the day when you are gone.

Don’t banish your puppy

Each dog or puppy differs when they are introduced to their crate. Some scream and howl and others seem relieved to have a place all their own where they can get some rest. No matter how they react, don’t simply put them in a crate and shut the door on them. If their crate is not in a main room, leave the door of the room open where puppy can see you and see what the rest of the family is doing. Your puppy is a member of the family; allow him to feel like one.

Crate haven

If you have children in the home your puppy will soon learn that his crate is a haven from children that want to carry, drag and otherwise play with him. Puppies play in a litter and then they sleep.

Your children can do a lot towards helping you exercise puppy but always supervise the play so no one, including puppy gets hurt. And, never let the kids get puppy out of the crate to play straight away; puppy needs to go straight from the crate to the potty spot.

Wait patiently until your puppy wets, let him play a bit and wait to see if he needs to go potty; you will quickly learn his signals such as frantically scenting the ground in circles looking for the last spot he went. After he has done his chores let him play with the kids until he tires, then take him for another potty trip so then he will be ready to go back in his crate.

Teach your children well

Teach your children to be careful with new puppy and to not harm or scare him. Play can quickly turn to terror for puppy if one of the kids picks him up by the tail. Supervise your children when puppy is out of his crate, for the sake of everyone concerned, including your puppy.

Mobile Home

Even though your new puppy may not like being in his crate at first, before long he will learn that the crate is his space and no one interferes with him while he is in his safe place. He will eventually learn to view his crate as his home.

For those who enjoy travelling, crate training provides the added benefit of being a mobile home for your puppy when you are on the road; a place all his own that he can relate to no matter where you travel.

Keep a log handy

Not a stick but a journal log; a good place to keep it is on top of your puppy’s crate where you can conveniently enter the time when he does his chores. Before long you will notice a pattern of the times and be able to take him out near those times rather than every hour.

Bribes work wonders

Always give a treat to your puppy and even adult dogs when they go into their crate. You want them to look forward to their crate and a treat speaks volumes to a treat motivated mutt. Bribes will get you what a lot of lost time a wasted effort won’t. Most dogs catch on to the language of bribes very quickly.

Setting your puppy free in the home

The essence of crate training is to encourage puppy to develop bowel and bladder control by taking advantage of his natural instinct to not soil in his crate/den. What better way to teach behavior than to use natural instincts (to not make a mess in their own space) to regulate natural behavior (wetting and eliminating).

The average dog will quickly learn where he is not going to potty (his crate) and with that knowledge comes the knowledge of where he is supposed to go.

Once your puppy has done all his chores in the appropriate place, allow him to roam (with supervision) about the home freely.