Crate Training for your Puppy
- Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Many of you may be horrified at the thought of your puppy or older dog being “stuck” in a crate (cage). Before you distress, know that it is their instincts to sleep in a covered place similar to the way they spent their first six weeks of life in the wild. As adults, they dig themselves a hole for warmth and protection from the elements.
Puppy owners use crates to teach their dog to wait and relieve himself outside. It also helps curb any possibility of the dog chewing objects that are dangerous like wires, chemicals, sofas, and wooden furniture. I have witnessed a dog chew up my reading glasses - lenses included! And, a family member left her grown dog in the car for an hour and he destroyed absolutely everything right down to the controls and steering wheel! Many may think a dog is safe loose in the car. To the contrary, this can be very dangerous if you get into an accident because if your dog is hurt, he is more than likely to bite anyone close to him. I would suggest that he be either in a crate, behind a metal grill, or fastened by a doggy seatbelt. As you can see, a crate is not just about bathroom training but safety for your pet.
A mistake new puppy owners make is buying a crate that is too big for the puppy and the adult size he will become. If you are financially able to buy two crates, choose ones that are just big enough for them to stand in and curl up. If you prefer to buy one crate, make sure it will fit his adult size. We are more inclined to avoid putting our adult dogs into a crate, but there may be situations that demand it, such as a frightened child.
Have the crate ready for the arrival of the new puppy and start training immediately. I prefer the wire crates. The plastic airline crates are impossible to clean. Black greasy grime develops all over the walls of the crate that needs to be washed and they do not come with a pan to remove when soiled. The wire crates come with a metal pan that slips out easily to wash and the wire parts never require cleaning. With a bigger crate for a puppy, you will need to devise a way to cut off the extra area within the crate. If you don't, the puppy may do his business in one end and sleep in the other. In my experience, the best way to do this with a metal crate is to either use metal they cannot chew such as metal bars, or a piece of plywood the size of the inside of the crate braced behind through the bars. Do not use particle board, laminate, chipboard, or boards treated with any kind of varnish or weather resistant stain. Some are glued with toxic chemical glues, which can cause illness if they are chewed or simply licked.
Puppies need about 20-22 hours of rest/sleep a day. The old adage “let sleeping dogs lie” is very true. So, it is best not to wake a puppy up to play.
The Rules of the Game
Make sure the first thing you do in the morning before you shower or dress is run and let the puppy out. The minute he hears you are awake, he will get up and may whine because he usually has to go immediately. After he’s done, put him back in the crate. Get yourself ready. Then, take him for a short walk. Never force your puppy to walk if he is tired.
Feed him approximately a half hour after his walk if you are feeding raw food. Let him out again. If you have time, keep him out for a play but never leave him out unsupervised. If he chews or soils, it is your fault. No one would leave a baby or toddler alone, so do not leave your puppy unattended until he has earned the right to be alone.
The minute your puppy wakes from a nap, take him out to do his business. The more you take him out, the easier it will be to teach him that outside is the right place to relieve himself.
Always take him to the same place on a leash and say a word that you choose. I use “do your pee”. Essentially, this consistency trains them to do it on command. This is especially useful if you are in a hurry. If he does not do his business, then put him back in the crate. If you have time, take him outside ten minutes later and repeat the process until he has gone. No outdoor play until he has gone.
Always make sure the puppy has something to chew on in the cage. I favor raw bones but you have to watch them to make sure they are not cracking off large bits. I give puppies large bones so they are less able to crack off large bits. You can also use Kongs or another indestructible toy. If the dog is able to get bits off, remove them.
In the crate, provide a small blanket after they have proven not to chew. If you think the dog might be cold, you can put a blanket under the tray.
Have fun with your new puppy, but remember the stricter you are about this time in his life, the better behaved he will be as an adult. Enjoy!