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post #1 of 71 (permalink) Old 01-12-2004, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Crate Training Your Dog

Crate Training Your Dog

By Linda Vanator
Copyright 2004

Just like people, dogs are individuals each possessing personalities and unique characteristics. Genetics dictate many human instincts and so it is for our dogs. It isn’t a far stretch to think about the behavior of dogs in the wild. Adult dogs in the wild will instinctually find a den or safe place to sleep. When a ***** whelps pups in the wild she sets up a den and keeps it clean until her pups are old enough to venture out on their own. The mother will teach her pups that it is not acceptable to soil in the area where they sleep. Domestic dogs will naturally den. When they are still in the whelping box the puppies will move from their sleeping area to an area they select as the potty area. They will eliminate in this area, keeping their sleeping area clean.

So many times I have heard people say that crating, “Is like jail!”, or “It’s so cruel to put my little puppy in a cage!”, or even “It reminds me of animals in the zoo!” Of course as humans we highly regard our freedom and as compassionate beings we want to extend this freedom to our pets. Ask yourself this though, “Would I raise my child without a crib to sleep in or a play pen to keep him safe if I had to take my eyes off him for a few minutes?”

Correctly and humanely used, a dog crate can be very advantageous and provide you with valuable tools to use as stepping stones, setting a foundation of security for both you and your dog. It can help as a tool to build a bond of mutual trust that will last as long as your relationship does.

Crate = Security

In his crate your dog can enjoy the security of his den, have his own place to retreat to when tired or not feeling well. In his crate your dog can avoid the confusion and punishment resulting from problem behavior. In his crate your dog can more easily learn to control his bladder and bowel functions and learn to associate relieving himself with the outdoors. In his crate your dog can be spared the isolation of being relegated to the garage, basement or being left outside in the yard alone. You want your dog to exhibit appropriate behavior. Your dog wants to please you. The crate can help you develop the bond and relationship you both desire.

When crate training always keep in mind the importance of repetition. Your dog will not understand what you want unless you repeatedly show him the desired behavior that you expect many, many times. Also, always remember that your puppy does not know what is expected of him as far as relieving himself unless he is shown the proper place to eliminate and when. Again, repetition is the key. The crate will be your best house breaking tool. Crate training can be a fun and positive experience for your puppy. You will be the one who creates the positive experience.

Housebreaking Tip

During housebreaking the puppy should never be allowed outside alone or loose in the yard. That means in the rain, snow, middle of the night or drowsy crack of dawn he must be on a leash with you there with him. Give him plenty of time and let him know he is there to “potty!” and not play. He can be redirected with the leash. “GO POTTY” or any short command phrase you are comfortable with should be repeated gently but firmly. Don’t chatter or talk to him, doing so will only confuse him. Potty time is strictly business. When he does eliminate act like it is the greatest thing he ever did. Praise enthusiastically and let him see and feel your excitement. Your repetition and adherence to this routine sets your dog up for success. The more opportunity he has to succeed sets the tone for lots of jubilant praise which fosters confidence and trust and desire to please. It’s a cycle that moves in a very positive direction for everyone.

Choosing A Crate

There are many crates to choose from and it’s often a confusing decision. There are open wire crates and enclosed plastic crates. I personally prefer the enclosed plastic crates which are vented on the three hard sides and have an open wire door. I believe this type of crate creates a secure den-like environment. They are also easy to move around and serve as safe travel containers. Purchase soft washable bedding for the bottom of the crate. Size can be confusing too. For most people it isn’t practical to purchase a new crate for each stage of the growing pup’s life. The crate should be just large enough for the dog to lie down and turn around in. The hard plastic portable crates are relatively inexpensive and depending on the breed of the dog and how large he will be at his adult size it might be wise to purchase a puppy size crate and move up to the adult size when he outgrows the small crate. Make a partition until he is full grown. If you purchase a crate that will be the right size for the adult dog, a partition can be made out of sturdy cardboard, stuff the unused section of the crate with a cardboard box. A crate that is too large for a small puppy won’t serve the intended purpose. He’ll have enough room to relieve himself on one end and sleep in the clean area. This will defeat the purpose of the crate as a housebreaking tool. Purchasing used crates is also an option. If you do, make certain that before you let your dog use it you wash it thoroughly with a bleach solution.

Introducing The Crate

If you are using the hard sided plastic crate take the crate apart. Let your pup go in and out of the bottom half. Put some soft bedding down in the bottom half of the crate. Encourage the pup to walk in and out, lie down and play. This stage can take hours to days. Go slow and let your pup set the pace. You can skip this step if you have a very young puppy who will accept crating right away.

Entice your puppy into the crate by placing his favorite toys at the very back part of the crate. Kongs, Nylabones, safe balls, or anything that is non-edible and large enough to prevent the pup from swallowing it, or bits of it, are good choices. I like to fill a small Kong with peanut butter and freeze it. This special kennel treat can distract and keep them interested for quite a long time. It’s also very soothing on tender teething puppy gums and will help to keep them quiet while crated.

Place the crate next to you when you are home. This will encourage the puppy to go inside it without feeling isolated or lonely when you have to leave. In the beginning always praise and pet your puppy when he enters the crate. You want him to know that his crate is a safe, positive place.

Throughout the day, occasionally place small pieces of dry puppy food or small bits of puppy treats in the crate. When the pup wanders in to investigate he’ll discover the treats. This will reinforce the positive experience of the crate. If you have an older pup or dog that is hesitant and resisting the crate you can try feeding him in it. Start with the food right outside the crate entrance. Each feeding slowly move the food into the crate, first right inside the doorway, moving toward the back of the crate until he’s eating inside the crate. Always praise his efforts!

During the early stages of introduction only enticing directives should be used. During the night the pup may be placed in his crate with the door closed. Place the crate right next to your bed. Should he whine or fuss, reach your hand down to calm him. Use soothing vocal tones. If several hours have passed and you awake to a crying, fussing pup – get up and take him outside to potty. Praise him then place him back into the crate with no fuss or drama. Remember, you are creating and teaching a lasting routine.

When beginning the crate training process always crate your pup for short periods of time while you are home with him. The crate training process is always most successful when you are present in the same room with the dog in the crate. Getting him used to your leaving the room which he is crated in is a great first step for getting him used to you leaving the house. When you leave the room he is crated in but remain in the home you are setting a great foundation for security. This also prevents the puppy associating being crated with you leaving the house.

Puppies And The Crate

Remember, puppies under four months of age have very little bladder or bowel control. Be patient and allow for frequent trips outside to potty. Young puppies should not be crated for long periods of time at all, the exception being during the night. Always be alert to your pup’s needs to eliminate. Set an alarm if you have to. Success creates stability and security.

Guidelines For Crating Durations

A 9 to 10 week old puppy can safely be crated for 30 to 60 minutes.
At 11 to 14 weeks he can be crated for approximately 1 to 3 hours.
At 15 to 16 weeks the time can be increased to approximately 3 to 4 hours.
At 17 weeks and older your pup can be crated for approximately 4 to 6 hours – not to exceed 6 hours.

The exception is overnight. Your pup should eventually be able to be crated through the night. At any other time, no pup or dog should be crated for more than 6 hours.

Use Don’t Abuse The Crate

Never use the crate as a form of punishment for your dog or puppy. Doing so will only cause the dog to fear, resist and resent the crate. If properly introduced to the crate your puppy should be happy to go into his crate at any time. It is alright to use the crate as a brief time out for your puppy if he has gotten himself worked up during rough play or is being particularly rowdy and unruly. Brief is the key word. Never banish and abandon your puppy to his crate and isolate him. This will only cause fear and may lead to anxiety. Always make sure your dog or puppy has plenty of exercise in the form of supervised play and walks on the leash (once the puppy is fully immunized).

Long Term Success!

The prospect of crate training may seem like a daunting task. It’s not! Time spent training your dog should be fun. Be creative and enjoy the process. Get to know your dog’s individual personality and work with it. Crate training will serve you both throughout the duration of your relationship. Like everything else in a dog’s life, learning to accept the crate and incorporating it into his daily routine is a layer in the foundation you are laying for a healthy, confident, loyal, obedient, wonderful lifelong companion. I have said this before, your dog will thank you!
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post #2 of 71 (permalink) Old 01-13-2004, 12:12 AM
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Deja, thanks for posting this!
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post #3 of 71 (permalink) Old 01-13-2004, 09:57 AM
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Thank you so much for this Deja!


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post #4 of 71 (permalink) Old 01-13-2004, 06:57 PM
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Thanx for this Deja!!! Crate training has only just started as a way to train dogs in aus (like i've said 100 times before....we are way you believe me now!!lol) and there's no-one in the area to teach how to crate train properly (and as a beginner I think it's necassary to have the classes to learn) so I won't be crate training my puppy but I'm learning so much about it...I like to be informed so thanx for your info!

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post #5 of 71 (permalink) Old 04-18-2004, 06:54 PM
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Thanks a lot for posting this! I've heard so much about crate training the dog, people said I was crazy for still using newspaper. I will be referring back to this often.
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post #6 of 71 (permalink) Old 04-22-2004, 06:52 AM
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Thanks a lot for this article. Crate training is working fine for my 9 weeks old Peanut. I just leave the crate owen during the day but keep it closed during the night.
Photos of little Peanut:
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post #7 of 71 (permalink) Old 04-22-2004, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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I have always done the same thing They learn to use their crates as their own little hide-away spots. My puppy even hides her little biscuits in her crate

I'm so glad my article was able to help!!

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post #8 of 71 (permalink) Old 04-27-2004, 08:57 AM
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Very true ... Our dog loves her crate. We call it here bedroom LOL

I put blankets over it so it's dark in there.. You said it, that's her DEN(bedroom)...
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post #9 of 71 (permalink) Old 06-10-2004, 02:10 PM
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i'm going to crate train my lil pup snook, i loved all your info it was very informative. but how do ya get them to not bark when they are in the crate.
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post #10 of 71 (permalink) Old 07-10-2004, 10:01 PM
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I've been trying crating for 3 days, since we got our puppy 3 days ago. The first night wasn't good, we had to PLACE him inside and he whaled all night. The second night was better. I lured him in with toys and treats, eventually he was laying down in the crate, and it was much easier to close him in. He also slept through the night with only the slightest of whimpers. I'm on my third night, and I'll do what I did last night.

Question though, right now he really only sleeps in the crate in the evening. During the day he seems to steer clear of it, only going in for maybe a second to retrieve something I toss in. How do I get him to rest in the crate during the day? Should I close the door behind him when he goes into get something, and just let him whimper until he relaxes? As part of that question, when I can't watch him closely should I try to get him to get into the crate and relax?
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post #11 of 71 (permalink) Old 08-07-2004, 04:22 AM
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"how do ya get them to not bark when they are in the crate.?"

i've always recommended a harsh "Quiet!" -when they stop, say something like 'that's better' or a plain 'Good girl/boy' -but in a pleasant tone, not really exciting, or high pitched , just pleasant. if that doesnt seem to work (after you've tried it for a few days and you feel it has no effect whatsoever) you could use a spray bottle after you say 'quiet' if they continue to bark/whine. always praise when they do what you say. i wouldnt recommend the spray bottle for submissive or hand shy types..depending on the dog, the squirt may freak them out so much that they lose the idea of the lesson.

however way you teach your dog(each dog is different, so they learn differently) ALWAYS remember to never let your baby out of the cage while they are barking/whining -this will only give them a positive reaction to their behavior...even if you really were going to take them out anyway, if they start up. you must wait, leave the room, whatever, do what you got to do to make them be quiet before you let them out -you dont want to reinforce the barking -this will only make it harder for you to get them to stop.

*if its a case where the baby is new to the cage and that is why they are throwing a fit, ignore it altogether. because even if you scold him, and walk away, he will see this as attention so he'll keep doing it...and they will throw a tantrum, but its only because its new and they want to be playing, doing what they want to do. it is one of those things where they may resist it in front of you, but you will walk in on them sleeping in it on their own free will..
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post #12 of 71 (permalink) Old 08-10-2004, 02:01 PM
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If you can't afford a crate, then what other option is there?
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post #13 of 71 (permalink) Old 10-23-2004, 12:37 AM
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That's a great write-up, Deja! Thanks for posting it. It's very informative and will hopefully help a lot of others with crate-training.

Originally Posted by new2dogs
If you can't afford a crate, then what other option is there?
Yes, the crates can be expensive. I lucked out and bought a used for only $50, which retailed for $300 brand new. You might try looking in your local newspaper for anyone selling crates, yard sales, posting in the Wanted sections of pet websites ... and eBay has been one of my best friends.

Some people (including myself) have tried the cardboard box method ... which sometimes works, but is more stressful for a puppy because they cannot see outside the box ... and when they start teething, they might chew through the cardboard. If you're creative, you could build a box frame out of wood from your local building supplies store and attach acrylic sides to it, making the height high enough to allow for a completley unenclosed top, so as not to cause oxygenation problems for your puppy, while also preventing him/her from climbing out from the top. This would be a less-costly method.

One other thing you could do is block of a room in your home which has "pee-proof" flooring (tile - not carpeted and no wood flooring) with a puppy gate (or even a board, if you can get it a position to contain your pup). I've used this method for a larger dog who had not been potty trained, and it worked very well.
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post #14 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-10-2004, 02:55 AM
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I already knew the basics of crate training but this article has expanded my knowledge. And yes I crate train. I learned that lesson after my last boy ripped up the bathroom floor and broke the bathroom sink! Talk about dangerous for his and expensive for us! I'll crate train every dog I have from now on.
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post #15 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-17-2004, 02:10 PM
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i never crate train a dog but now i will try with my new up coming dog
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cardboard box, cocker spaniel, crate trained, crate training, potty train, potty trained, puppy food

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