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Crate Training a Puppy
Providing your puppy with a crate creates a secure den-like home. It is NOT punishing the puppy and in no way should ever be used as a form of punishment. Besides being the best way to house train a pup (a dog's nature is to normally not soil the place where he sleeps), it prevents destructive behavior while at the same time, protecting the puppy by not allowing him to get into things like cleaners, chocolate etc. that may be dangerous to him. It is also the safest way to transport a puppy in a vehicle.
Type of crate: I find that puppies seem to prefer the wire mesh crates the best. It allows an uninterrupted view of what is going on around the household. The crate should be placed close to you, in a central location of the home.
Size: The crate should be just large enough to allow the puppy to turn around freely.  You can buy a larger crate and section it off, making the puppy area larger as they grow.  If the puppy area of the crate is too large, the puppy will eliminate in one corner and sleep in the other!
Introducing the crate: Tie the crate door with a twist tie, or other method so that it stays open without rattling. If the crate comes with a floor pan (this is the tray that sliedes out), place a towel between the floor (or crate bottom) and the floor pan in order to keep it from rattling.
An absorbant, fluffy towel can go inside as bedding, along with some favorite 'safe' toys like nylabones, kongs or an extra strong fleece toy. Keep the toys at the far end of the crate. A drink bottle that hangs from the crate provides water.
Before even putting the puppy into the crate, make the puppy think it's all his idea - and make it fun.
Drop small pieces of dog biscuits or treats into the crate. Puppies are very food motivated and will associate the crate with a good place. When he enters to get the treat, praise him and tell him what a good boy he is. Feeding him in the crate will also help. Always remove collars if the puppy will be spending any time in the crate.
When your puppy is used to entering the crate, put him in there, beginning with 10 minutes, while you are still in the room and close the crate door. Open door and praise the puppy after 10 minutes/
When the pup is used to having the crate door closed, leave the room for very short intervals, gradually lengthening them, to get the puppy used to being in there without you around.
Children should not be allowed to play in the crate at any time. Your puppy needs to think of this as his own special spot.
Once you think the puppy is comfortable in the crate, it's time to start training


Time in Crate

9-10 wks

Apprx. 30 - 60 minutes

11 - 14 wks

Apprx. 1 - 3 hours

15 - 16 wks

Apprx. 3 - 4 hours

17+ weeks

4 - 6 hours

Puppies purchased in pet stores kept in cages or other similar enclosures at a young age (between approximately 7 and 16 weeks of age), may be much harder to housebreak using the crate training method due to their having been forced to eliminate in their sleeping area during this formative stage of development. This is the time when most puppies are learning to eliminate outside their sleeping area as well as other important social skills. Confining them with their waste products retards the housebreaking process, and this problem can continue throughout a dog's adult life.   If you need to be away from the puppy longer than the time the puppy can hold their bladder based on their age and chart above, do not use a crate.  Instead use a larger area such as a bathroom and have a sleeping area and newspaper in the corner.  Try to limit the time the puppy is in this situation, as it too can teach the puppy it is ok to eliminate in the house.  If at all possible, use the crate method of training as soon as the puppy is 12 weeks old.  Leave the puppy in the crate no longer than 2 hours and have a friend or neighbor let the puppy outside to relieve itself.  Crate training works best when used consistently.
Also notice that a puppy cannot stay 8 hours in a crate. If you work outside the home, alternate arrangements will have to be made in order to let the puppy out at the appropriate time.
Start by feeding your puppy 2 times a day - the same time every day. This will keep him 'on schedule' and you'll be better informed as to when he has to go. Keep track of exactly when the puppy 'goes' for several days or more. How many minutes is it between times of elimination?. Take away another 20 minutes and this is the duration of time he can generally be trusted to 'hold it'.
Of course you don't want your puppy to stay in the crate all the time when you are home, but he should be in the crate when you cannot actively supervise him. Actively supervise means being within reach if he starts to 'squat' and whisking him outside immediately when he does - while he's going...not after.
Puppies need to urinate shortly after the eat, drink water, play, chew, or sleep. That means lots of trips outside! It also means setting an alarm clock at night to take your puppy out (no water after 9PM). Never bring him back in until he urinates, or eliminates if after eating. When he does, praise him to the hills and tell him what a good boy he is. A VERY small treat will also reinforce. Emphasis is on SMALL or you'll end up going through this all over again. Remember, too, that a puppy without all his shots should not be going out for walks outside the backyard.

Take your puppy out of the crate in the morning and immediately bring him outside first thing.Stay outside with him until he goes. (This may take a while!) Once again, soon as he goes, bring on the praise and a treat. Repetition builds recognition and it often needs LOTS of repetition! Puppies are a lot of work.
If your puppy goes in his crate while you aren't there, don't scold him - wash the crate and bedding down with an enzyme cleaner like Nature's Miracle. Regular cleaners may remove the smell to our nose, but not to a puppy's...and that will encourage them to go in the same spot again. The enzyme cleaner works on indoor rug stains too which are bound to happen from time to time. Remember, if you don't catch the puppy 'in the act' - there is nothing you can do. This is why active supervision is so important while the puppy is outside the crate.If you do catch him, while he is going in the inappropriate spot, a sharp 'no' and out to the backyard immediately is in order. Once he finishes going outside, praise & treat.

Even though a puppy is not 'fully' house trained (can be reliable outside a crate in the home at all times), he is often crate trained much more quickly. Repeat, repeat, repeat!


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