|Crate Training Your New Puppy
Dogs are den animals and actually feel secure and safe in a crate. They don't think of a
crate as a "cage" but as their den and will try very hard not to soil their den. The crate
can be plastic or wire. Buy the smallest size for a puppy for house training. If the crate
is too large the puppy may use a corner or one end for a bathroom area. It is possible
to buy a larger size and either closed off the end with a divider or stuff a pillow in the
end to make it smaller until crate training is over.
A crate used correctly for house training becomes the dogs own private retreat or den.
The puppy will seek out the crate when it wants to rest undisturbed or to feel safe.
A crate's success as a housebreaking tool is simple; puppies will not soil their sleeping
area if they can possibly avoid it. But remember that a puppy needs time to play and
has a small bladder. Use the crate when you can't watch your puppy, but don't overuse
Crates come in different styles and sizes. Choose one that will be large enough for an
adult dog to lie down, stand up, and turn around easily. If you plan on traveling with your
puppy/dog buy a plastic one with ventilation slits on all four sides.
Put the crate in a room close to other family members to lessen the puppy's anxieties.
Move the crate at night to the bedroom so the puppy will feel like a member of the
family and so you can hear the puppy if it needs to go out at night.
Remove the puppy's collar before placing it in the crate. For the first few times the
puppy goes in the crate she may cry or whine. Give her a treat when you put her in the
crate, close the door, then leave the room but remain close by. At the first bark, whine,
or howl intervene with a sharp "NO". Your puppy should associate the reprimand with its
actions and stop. It may take four or five tries, but it will eventually settle down and be
quiet. Never take the puppy out before she settles down or she will think all she has to
do is keep making noise until you take her out.
Once the puppy is quiet, keep it in the crate for 30-45 minutes. If it begins to cry, take it
outside to relieve itself. Once that happens, praise the puppy, give it a small treat, and
take it back inside and allow it supervised free time outside the crate. If she starts
chewing on something other than her toys, respond with a sharp "no", take the object
away and replace with a chew toy.
After 15-20 minutes of playtime, put the puppy back into the crate for a nap. Correct the
puppy if she cries. Your puppy learns through association, so consistency should help it
accept being in the crate after a few times. After about an hour, take puppy out again
and repeat the process.
Your puppy will need to eliminate directly on waking and shortly after eating or playing.
Also, a very young puppy will not be able to hold its urine all night, so be prepared to
take her out during the night.
Put the puppy on her leash immediately after letting her out of the crate. Rush the puppy
to the door or carry her so she can avoid an accident. Watch to be sure that she
relieves herself once you are outside.
Gradually increase the time your puppy is allowed to play out of the crate after she
relieves herself outside but always supervise the puppy until she is reliable. A good way
to let puppy have some play time while you are busy and don't want her to have full run
of the house is to use a play pen or exercise pen. You can set it up in the kitchen or
other room of your house or even attach it to your puppy's crate.
After house training is successful you may still want to use the crate or exercise pen
when you are gone or sleeping so puppy doesn't get into any trouble when you can't
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