By Ali, Oct 22 2014 03:00PM
Crate training (also called kennel training) is an important tool for training your new puppy. Many times adopters will be resistant to this idea because it seems "mean" to lock your cuddly new puppy in a cage. But, when done properly, crate training can be a wonderful, positive tool!
Crate training is especially important tool for housebreaking a new puppy but many owners do not purchase the proper size kennel. A crate should be just big enough for your puppy or dog to lay down and turn around. A properly sized kennel will deter a young pup from going to the bathroom since his or her only option would be to potty on his bed! Many crates come with a moveable panel that allows you to adjust the kennel to the perfect size for a growing pup.
Of course, these crated periods must be appropriately timed with the age of your puppy. No 8 week old puppy will be able to keep a clean kennel the entire day while you are at work. But, if you're busy cooking dinner, your puppy should be able to hold it while in his crate. When you take him out of his crate, carry him immediately outside to the place where you'd like him to potty. Carrying your new pup from crate to outdoor potty area prevents him from "messing up" on the way. As he gets older and has the ability to hold it longer and more reliably, he'll be able to walk himself and wait until he's at his designated potty area. Most people find crate training greatly improves the housebreaking process.
Crate training also keeps your puppy from getting into inappropriate items. Puppies explore the world with their mouths! Sharp little puppy teeth can quickly destroy a favorite pair of shoes. And, there's always the worry that puppy will actually ingest items that can cause dangerous and sometimes fatal blockages. Some people like to gate off a small area like a bathroom or a laundry room as puppy's area for when he's unattended. But, take it from us, puppies can eat door moulding or tear up a vinvyl floor faster than you'd ever dream. A crate provides a nice, safe "den" for your pup.
If you focus on making the crate a pleasant experience, your puppy's crate will soon become his favorite spot. Feeding meals inside the kennel and giving special toys during crating periods will help your puppy learn to love his kennel. With enough positive reinforcement, you'll soon see your puppy crawling off to his kennel voluntarily to take a nap! When your house gets crowded and your puppy is overwhelmed, the crate also provides a safe, secure spot for your puppy to go to relax. Dogs and people all need their own space from time to time and your puppy will thank you for carving out a little spot just for him.
The crate should never be used as punishment either or you'll undo all your hard work! If you catch your puppy going potty on the rug, scold him with a firm no and then quickly take him to the proper potty spot and give lots of praise. When you return inside, return to your regular activities. Even if raising kids and puppies has some remarkable overlaps, puppies won't understand the concept of a "time out" for being bad so resist the urge to use the crate for this reason.
Crate training will give you a lot of flexibility. If you have a repairman over at the house, it is nice to be able to secure Rex in his kennel so you don't have to worry about him accidentally being let out the front door. If you plan to travel, crating is an excellent tool if you want to travel with Rex to hotels or visit friends and familiy. If you need to leave him at a boarding facility, Rex will enjoy the experience a lot more if he's used to a crate!
Crate training can have some ups and downs. In future posts, we'll cover some common problems and advice on crate training older dogs!