WHAT IS CRATE TRAINING?
Crate training is a method of teaching your puppy to hold his bladder and bowels by confining him to a crate whenever he’s not under your active, direct supervision. Your puppy, like the rest of us, wants to avoid soiling where he sleeps, so confining him in his crate reduces the likelihood of accidents. Dogs also have a “denning” instinct that makes them feel cozy and secure in small spaces.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CRATE
Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down. Use the divider that came with your crate to gate him/her just enough to curl up and lay down. If you give your dog too much space, he’ll be tempted to use half his crate as a bedroom and the other half as a bathroom, which will make crate training him impossible. (And stinky.)
WON’T HE HATE IT IN THERE?
Crate training is just that: crate training. It’s not punishment. When he’s there, it’s because you’re actively showing him the correct way to behave.
Even thought you want your dog to be comfortable, don’t use any cushion or padding in their crate until you’re sure they won‘t potty on it. If your dog potties on a soft blanket or pillow the urine or fecal matter will absorb into the fibers of the material and stay even after washing. It’s a tough smell to remove for human noses, and even more so for sensitive canine noses. If your puppy continues to smell it, it’s likely he’ll take it as a cue for a repeat performance.
WHEN SHOULD MY PUPPY BE IN HIS CRATE?
When you’re crate training your dog, he’s only allowed in three places:
- In his crate.
- In a safe area where he’s allowed to go potty (fenced yard, dog run, indoor potty area, etc.)
- In the house under your DIRECT supervision.
It’s a very short list, but to avoid accidents during the early phases of crate training, your dog should have absolutely no unsupervised free time in the house. None. Zero. Nada. Remember, if your puppy has an accident and you’re not there to catch him in the act and correct him, he learns that he gets sweet relief from pottying on the floor, which means he’s much more likely to do it again. It feels just as good to go in the wrong place as it does in the right place if nobody’s there to teach him the difference.
MAKING THE CRATE A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE
Bring your puppy to the crate for naps and quiet-time breaks so that he can unwind from family chaos. Start in increments of 10 minutes and work up to longer periods.
Every single time you take your puppy out of the crate, take him for a walk so he can potty. He’ll begin to realize that potty time comes after crate time. Remember to praise him after he potties in the correct place.
NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR THE CRATE, MATE
As tempting as it is to cuddle up with them, the best place for your puppy to spend the night is in his crate. They may cry the first night or two—in most cases, they are simply adjusting to life without their mom and littermates. When they’re very tiny, you’ll have to take your puppy outside to potty in the middle of the night, but by the time they’re four months old, most puppies should be able to sleep through the night without a potty break. Cut off water 3-4 hours before bedtime to reduce the need for overnight pees.