Crate Training is one of the most efficient and effective ways to train a puppy or dog.
The single most important aspect of dog and puppy training is that you reward and praise your dog or puppy each and every time she does the right thing. For example: praise her when she chews her own toys instead of the couch or eliminates outside instead of in the house. The more time you spend with your puppy or dog, the quicker and easier it will be to train her.
The key to house training is to establish a routine that increases the chances that your dog will eliminate in the right place in your presence, so that she can be praised and rewarded; and decreases the chances that your dog will eliminate in the wrong place so that she will not develop bad habits.
See Tips for House Training your Puppy
It is important that you make provisions for your dog when you are not home. Until your dog is housetrained, she should not be allowed free run of your house. Otherwise, she will develop a habit of leaving piles and puddles anywhere and everywhere. Confine her to a small area such as a kitchen, bathroom or utility room that has water/stain resistant floors. Confinement is NOT crate training.
One of the most useful devices for raising a puppy, and perhaps one of the most misunderstood, is a fold-up wire dog crate. Properly used, this device can aid in housetraining puppies. It can also save hundreds of dollars in damage to household items. Since the crate is portable, it can be easily taken along on trips. Thus overnight visits or vacations with the family pet can be more enjoyable. People who raise, train, and show dogs have been aware of the benefits of crates for years. Unfortunately, the new pet owner is not as well informed.
I advise owners of new puppies to concentrate on housetraining, socialization, and crate training during the early weeks of rearing. However, before owners begin crate training, they should be aware of several tendencies in the normal, healthy pup.
Recommend Procedure to Introduce the Crate to Puppy
The procedure we use and recommend to clients for inhibiting the separation reflex is based upon several other canine tendencies. These are the pup’s preference to bed down with, or in the presence of others; to bed down in a sheltered, den-like atmosphere; and to learn through association.
The procedure we recommend is as follows:
- Acquire a crate large enough for an adult dog to stand and turn unimpeded.
- Assemble the crate in a bedroom of the house.
Introduce the pup to the crate by placing several treats in and around it. Also, feed the pup several meals inside the crate.
- Well before bedtime, place the pup in the crate and offer a treat. Close and lock the gate.
- Leave the room, but remain just outside in order to audit the pup’s behavior.
- At the first indication of any separation responses, intervene with a sharply raised voice. The idea is that the pup associate its behavior with the startling outcome the behavior produced. Some pups will not respond to a raised voice.
- We have found that most respond well to sounds generated by a shaker can (a small coffee can containing several coins) or a newspaper slapped sharply against a door or wall.
Usually the pup settles quietly in the crate after three to eight attempts at emotional responses, if they are followed by a startling sound.
After the puppy is quiet keep it inside the crate for about ten minutes. Do not to praise or pet the pup immediately after releasing it. This can reinforce the desirability of leaving the crate.
After an interval of 30 to 45 minutes, repeat the procedure. Extend the pup’s quiet time in the crate to about 30 minutes.
While the pup is inside the crate, provide one chewable toy. Other items such as blankets or newspapers are not necessary. Also, any collars or leads should be removed to prevent entanglement.
By the time bedtime arrives, the pup has already associated being quiet with being in the crate. Also, the effects produced by separation are negated if the crate is in a bedroom where a member of the family sleeps.
Usually after waking the pup will eliminate. If the pup awakens while inside the crate and needs to eliminate, it will probably whine or bark, dogs tend to avoid eliminations in their bedding areas (den effect).
The pup can then be taken outside to eliminate. It is important to return the puppy immediately to it’s crate after this potty break, and after a kiss/cuddle let it settle back to sleep. It can’t get the idea that nighttime potty break is also playtime.
Randolph, Elizabeth. How to Help Your Puppy Grow Up to be a Wonderful Dog. Fawcett Books, 1995.