The purpose of crate training is to give your puppy a safe secure place to go. In the wild, dogs were den animals. Crate training takes advantage of this instinct and the crate becomes your puppy’s den. Sending your puppy to his crate should not be used as a punishment. It should be the place where he willingly chooses to sleep.
The Advantages Of Crate Training Your Puppy.
There are times when your puppy will need to be confined.
Whether it’s a short trip to the vet or a longer vacation trip, there are times your puppy will need to be taken in your car. The safest way to this is confine him. If he is crate trained, it will be a lot easier and he will be much more comfortable.
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This is the big one. When you are at home with your puppy , it is easier to keep an eye on him and whisk him outside if he shows signs of wanting to pee. Of course, this is not possible when you are not there. A wild dog would not soil his own den. The good news is that domesticate dogs behave in the same way. They will hold on until they are released from the crate. When you get home, your first job will be to take him outside to the designated potty area. At the start, only leave your puppy for short periods. His bladder is small and he won’t be able to hold on for too long. As a rule of thumb the American Kennel Club suggests you take the puppies age in months and add one to calculate the maximum time he can be left. So a three month old puppy can be left for four hours and so on.
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When your puppy first comes home, he will have no idea what he is and is not allowed to do. Crate training is a great way to teach him some boundaries. Again, when you are at home, you can watch out for inappropriate behavior such as destructive chewing. The problems really start when you have to leave home for a while. Returning home and finding your puppy has chewed one of your favorite possessions can really ruin your day. Confining him to his crate while you are away is a good way to avoid this problem. Over time, he will come to see his crate as his secure place and will also be less susceptible to separation anxiety.
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Choosing A Crate
It is important to get the crate size right. It should be big enough for him to stand up and turn around. On the other hand, you don’t want him to be able to soil in one area of the crate and still have room to area in another part.
A metal crate is a better choice to use as a permanent den. It allows the dog more visibility. They are easy to clean out and are also easy to collapse and move. Many modern crates have an internal divider which can be moved as your puppy grows.
A sturdy well built crate with a fool-proof latch is a better choice than a poorly built cheap one.
Training Your Puppy to Use His Crate
A bit of patience is needed to teach your dog to use the crate. Start off by putting the crate in an area where he is spending a lot or time anyway. Make it comfortable inside by putting a familiar mattress or blanket on the floor. Leave a few of his toys inside. He may naturally enter the crate to explore - if not, put a few treats inside the door – gradually increase the distance from the door as he becomes more confident.
When he is entering and leaving the crate freely, start to feed him inside the crate. When he has got the hang of this, close the door while he is feeding. At first, let him out as soon as he is finished but gradually extend the time he spends in the crate.
Now you need teach your puppy to enter the crate on command. Decide on your command word. It could be something like “bed” or “box”
Get him to enter the crate with a treat. As he enters say the command word. Then close the crate. Sit next to it and leave him in there for a short time.
When you let him out, reward him with praise and another treat.
Using this method, gradually increase the time he is in the crate and then the distance you are away from the crate. When he is happy with you being out of sight for about 30 minutes, you are ready for the next step - which is to actually leave the house.
Stay away for a very brief period and don’t make too much fuss when you return. Keep it all low key.
Increase the time you are away until he is happy to be in the crate for extended periods. You will be happy too - knowing that your puppy is OK.
Vary the times at which you put your puppy in the crate. You should sometimes put him in there even if you plan to be at home. This way he won’t come to associate going to the crate with being left alone.