By Jan Lemire, BeeHaven Labradors
Crates are wonderful tools to help house train your puppy. Once dogs are introduced to their crates, they use them like a den. It is a safe place for your puppy to rest, sleep or be transported. Adult dogs often opt to sleep in their crates with the doors open.
Crates can be wire or plastic. We use the wire type and use 1x3’s to shorten the crate for a young pup. Moving the 3 slats back every couple of weeks as the puppy grows. A pup likes a small, secure place to den and will do its best not to soil its sleeping area.
The crate should be in a place where the family is, kitchen or family room. It should be accessible during the day to get the puppy outside. If you find you would like the puppy to sleep upstairs, get two crates. Puppies and adults prefer to be with their “people”.
You will need to establish a routine. Your pup should be taken out first thing in the morning. You may have to carry the pup out the first few days or first week. Then, let the pup walk back inside. Try to take the pup to a certain area to eliminate. You can use a key phrase such as “hurry up” or “go potty” and this will help the pup learn more quickly. Begin by saying the phrase when the pup goes, he will catch on. Your pup may even learn to go on command. Your pup will need to go out after each meal and each long drink of water. A young pup will need to go out on regular intervals.
All naps should be taken in the crate. Whenever the pup wakes up, take it outside. If it soiled in the crate, do not scold it. The fact that the pup couldn’t wait and soiled its own area is punishment enough for a young pup. Try to get to the pup more quickly to take it out to go. When the pup is loose in the house, keep it in a small area such as the kitchen. It will need to go out more frequently the first couple of weeks as it develops bladder control. You can take it to a family room for brief introductions to another room. Try to limit access to other parts of the house as a young pup is easily distracted. If you are very observant, your pup shouldn’t have any accidents in the house. This does NOT mean it is fully trained, but will make training more pleasant for you and your puppy.
You can use the crate when you are not able to watch your puppy. If you are busy making dinner or other chores, the pup should be in the crate. You can use it for a time out if the pup plays too roughly and you have tried to correct it. Do not use it to correct something you did not see. A dog has no idea if you are punishing it for chewing a magazine you discovered torn if you did not catch it in the act. If you punish a dog away from the misdeed, it will confuse the dog. A crate is like a playpen for a child. It keeps it safe and you will find raising your pup easier.
You should plan to use your crate for at least a year. Most people give theirs dogs too much freedom too soon. If you are out of the house, the dog should be in a crate. If you are sleeping, the dog should be in a crate. Don’t give your crate away; it may be used for out times in the future.ALWAYS REMOVE COLLARS BEFORE YOUR DOG GETS IN THE CRATE.