Crate Training Puppies

Crate training is a method of housebreaking a puppy by confining him to a crate at certain times, to ensure he cannot destroy the house or soil it when unsupervised, and learns to go outside. It is based around the fact that dogs do not like to soil their sleeping quarters. It also fulfills a need for puppies to have their own den, and can help with separation anxiety as well as sleeping problems. Eventually, if you travel with your puppy or dog, it will be happy to be contained within its own little house, thus reducing stress for the whole family.

Selecting and Setting Up a Crate

A crate can be any sort of easily movable dog house or box, with at least one side, or preferably more, open with bars or plastic, so that the puppy can see the activity around it. The crate should be large enough to contain the puppy when it is standing or stretched out, but not much larger. If you are buying for the eventual size of the dog, it may need to be blocked off so the smaller puppy doesn't use one end for eliminating waste and one end for sleeping and eating.

You should put toys in the crate, preferably one or two that are only available to the dog while he is in there. Water in a hamster style bottle should also be available, particularly when the puppy is in the crate for more than a couple of hours. Bedding can also be put into the crate, although make sure your puppy doesn't prefer to sleep on a flat surface.

Getting Used to the Crate

The puppy should be introduced to the crate gradually. Start feeding the puppy at the crate door, eventually moving the dish further into the crate, over several meals, so that he associates the crate with food. Also, praise him when he enters the crate.

When you first begin closing the puppy in the crate, do so for short periods of time, while you are in the room. Do not take him out if he whines, but wait for an interval when he stops, and take him out with no praise or fuss. Eventually, leave the room with him in the crate, but again do not praise him or appear back in the room when he whines or makes noise. While he will need to get used to being without you in the crate, try to keep the crate with the family as much as possible, and particularly in the room with you at night. Be sure to allow your puppy outside frequently as young puppies have small bladders and cannot hold them for long. Never punish the puppy by putting him in the crate. Eventually, you'll be able to leave the house or sleep, safe in the knowledge that your puppy won't destroy or soil your house, or hurt himself without supervision.

While at first glance crate training seems unnatural, it will make for a happier, safer puppy. It will also save your household from the destructive capabilities of an unsupervised puppy.