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The crate is without a doubt the one of the best foundations for training one can have. So many benefits! One, and the most natural, is that a crate will become your puppy’s “room”. Just like all of us, puppy will need some alone time and a place where he or she can get away from the household at times. You will notice that your pup is likely to crawl under the kitchen table or the coffee table or a chair to nap. That’s what I mean about the crate being “natural” ... a dog has a denning instinct and is
most comfortable resting in an enclosed and/or covered space.
Now that’s not to say they are going to love their crate right off the bat. It has to be introduced correctly, and of course they would rather be snuggled in the bed with you. Take heart when the whining happens .... It only takes a short time for them to see their crate as a happy place.
Leave the crate door open when not in use. Toss little treats in and let puppy go in to find them, without closing the door behind him. When it’s feeding time, put puppy’s bowl of kibble in the crate toward the door, where he only needs to stick his head in to eat. Over a period of time, gradually move the next feeding in a little further, never closing the door. This helps puppy “trust” the crate and learn that just because he’s in the crate, it doesn’t always mean he is confined.
I like to take a thin sheet or bath towel and drape it over the openings in the sides and back. Comforting for the pup. (Puppy will come home with a GVD muslin blanket bearing our scent.) For some of my more stubborn pups, I will leave the back openings uncovered, but cover the front instead. It seems to help during the night, so when I get out of bed for a drink of water, puppy doesn’t see me and assume it’s time for her to get out of bed too.
There will be whining to begin with. It sounds harsh, but you have to tough it out. Never let puppy out if she continues to squall and pitch a fit. If you “feel bad for her” and let her out, you are reinforcing that bad behavior = non confinement. Don’t give in! If you are certain puppy has eliminated and does not need to go potty, let her cry. When she settles (sometimes it will feel like it takes forever!), that is the time to let her out.
A crate is also a safe zone for a dog of any age. Anytime a dog cannot be supervised (during puppyhood mostly), the crate is the place where you know your puppy will be safe. She will not be chewing electrical wires and electrocuting herself, or eating something that will make her sick. A dog that’s crate trained is also easier to travel with.
Aside from those important reasons to crate train, it is by far the most effective housebreaking aid I have ever used. You will probably end up buying a couple of them in her first year as she grows, though my suggestion would be to purchase the largest crate you will ever need, and partition most of it in the beginning. She only needs room to lie down comfortably, stand, and turn around. Too much room in the crate, and she will go to one corner and potty. Getting it to the correct size for puppy is critical to effective housebreaking.
The type of crate we recommend is a Double-Doors Folding Metal w/ Divider & Tray . We prefer for this type of crate for house training, and here's why. One, it has a removable tray that is easy to slide out for the inevitable cleaning. Two it is BIG - and you’ll never have to upgrade to a larger size. Three, it comes with a wire partition so you can adjust puppy’s “room” to any size you need as she grows. And last, they collapse flat making them easy to transport and store.
The puppies are well into their first steps in housebreaking ... they know to leave their bed to go away to a potty area. It’s called the Misty Method, and I start this at 3 weeks of age to develop their natural instinct to keep their “den” clean. This way they already have an aversion to poop/ pee in the areas where they eat and sleep. This helps with crate training considerably. Plan on giving her a potty break every two to three hours during the night to begin with. It will take a few days, but by the end of the first week, puppy should be sleeping a full 6 hours at night without needing a potty break. If she is eliminating in her crate, re evaluate. It's usually one of four reasons: (1) crate is too large, (2) she has been left in the crate for too long, (3) she is having too much evening drink from her water bowl. I pick up water bowls at 7pm when housebreaking puppies, or (4) she is ill.
Where to put this big ‘ol bulky crate? I put it next to my bed and use it as my nightstand. I would not suggest putting the pup’s crate in another room. She needs to hear you breathing and moving, and be close enough to smell your scent. That will be reassuring for her as she gets used to her new sleeping routine.
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