Crate training is a safe way to contain your puppy or dog.
Some people have an adverse opinion of a crate and the general reason is usually because they believe it is not comfortable for the dog. When you think like a dog, however; and not like a human, the crate becomes a favorable place because the crate replicates a natural den environment. Despite some opinions to the contrary, the crate is really a humane way to safely contain your pup or dog.
Why does crate training work?
It works because dogs have an innate den instinct and like to sleep in a small, confined space. The crate serves as a safe place for the dog to go to when he is tired or anxious. It provides a sense of security and it is a familiar place to your pet if his environment changes during travel or a move. The crate can be transported with you and give your pet added stability to keep something familiar in his world during a confusing time for him. Crate training is also a valuable tool for house training and for helping to teach him to be calm. Crating your pet prevents him from engaging in negative behaviors like chewing or digging or other destructive behavior patterns which can occur when you are not available to supervise.
When do you teach crate training?
The answer is anytime it is a necessary tool in your tool box. Although, it is easiest to introduce a crate to a young puppy it is never too late to train your dog to use a crate.
What kind of crate do you get?
There are many styles of crates to consider for your needs. There is the plastic airline crate most commonly used for shipping but it can be used just as easily in your home; the wire open-air style is popular and this model comes in collapsible versions for easy fold up, or the soft-sided crate which is lightweight and quickly put up. Because of its ease of assembly and light weight, the soft-sided crate is popular with dog handlers who travel to competitions like agility and obedience. This is not a crate to begin training a new puppy with, however, because the soft material sides could be chewed.
What size crate do you get?
Your crate should be large enough for your dog or pup to stand up and turn around in. If you are trying to house train a young puppy, use a crate that will be large enough when your dog is full grown but has a divider to give the pup just enough room for his current size. Most dogs are clean by nature and will try not to urinate or defecate in the area that they sleep in. If the crate is too large your puppy may go to the other side of the crate to relieve himself in place of attempting to hold it.
What do you do when your pup is crying in his crate?
You may have to weather initial moans, cries, screams and maybe an outright temper tantrum because your pup generally will not be happy the first time he is introduced to his crate. Especially if he has just been separated from his litter he will be very unhappy and may even panic the first time. It is important however that you do not give in thereby rewarding the act of becoming hysterical. If you feel sorry for him and get him out before he settles down, he will quickly learn that the more he cries it will eventually bring him what he wants….OUT!
What do you do if you are not sure your puppy has to go potty when he is crying in his crate?
It will be important to quickly get a schedule on your new puppy so that you can get him out of his containment area in time so he can learn to relieve himself outside. The schedule should start out with short sessions with your dog in his crate for about two hours before letting him out. His feeding will be a part of the schedule. Once your puppy has eaten and you have seen him relieve himself outside, then it should be safe to put him into his crate. With a schedule in place, time and duration in the crate can quickly be extended. If he is going out every two hours and you are hoping to sleep longer during the night, let him stay crated for a longer period of time; if he begins to cry and it has been three or four hours then you must get him out and give him the chance to relieve himself. You will learn how long he can hold it and you will not be in danger of rewarding the wrong behavior of barking. Once the first few days have passed your dog’s schedule will begin to form.
What kinds of things will make your puppy like his crate better?
A helpful hint for going into the crate is to give the puppy a good outlet first which will help tire him out. A short walk or playing in the yard or with the kids can be a good way to get him a bit tired before sending him to his quiet, safe place to relax. Toys that cannot be chewed up and ingested are okay to keep in the crate. Also, safe chewing bones are a good idea. A Kong stuffed with peanut butter can keep your pup happy for hours. Feeding your puppy in the crate can be helpful and giving him a treat when he goes into the crate initially are ways to help get a new dog accustomed to his new crate.
The more you use your crate for constructive confinement and training, which means that your puppy has had enough time to be out and part of the family with your supervision before being crated, the more comfortable and safe his crate will feel to him. Just like your bedroom and bed may be a welcome sight at the end of your day, your dog will view his crate in much the same way. It’s all about how you train and use your crate.