Puppy Crate Training The Basics

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Puppy Crate Training The Basics

by Valerie Goettsch

Crate Training using a crate or a cage is a very popular method of housebreaking a puppy. Why? It works quickly and it teaches your puppy that when the urge hits, he can hold it. This is very important, because it is thought that puppies that have been crate trained tend to have fewer "accidents."

The ABCs of Crate Training

The theory behind crate training is that dogs and puppies don't like to lie in a soiled bed; their crate is their bed, or home. If they mess their bed (crate) they'd be forced to lay in it. The key is having a crate that is just the right size. Your puppy should be able to stand up comfortable and turn around, but the crate should not be too big?just large enough to fit their mat. Otherwise, you puppy may think he can urinate in the back of the crate and lay in the front, which would defeat the purpose. With the exception of a mat or blanket and a toy, nothing else should be in the crate?no food or water.

Surprisingly, puppies as young as nine or 10 weeks are able to control their bladders and bowels up to seven or eight hours?not that they should be left unattended in a crate that long, except for the night. They just need to be trained to hold it.

To potty train your puppy, he should be kept in his crate whenever you must leave him home alone and when you are home but cannot watch him (like when you are making dinner, showering, caring for your children, etc.). Your puppy should also be in the crate overnight.

Just before putting your puppy in the crate, take him outside to his designated bathroom spot. Be sure to reward him for a job well done. Take your dog to the same bathroom spot use the same path each time so he learns where to go and what he's supposed to do when he gets there. As soon as you take your puppy out of the crate, take him outside to his spot again. Also take your puppy outside after he has eaten or had water and after play time. Little by little you can start keeping your puppy out of the crate for longer periods of time. Keep in mind that most accidents happen because we humans forget to take our puppies outside after playing, eating, etc., or we forget to watch them. You've been there: as soon as you turn your back, the little guy or gal pees on the carpet!

Whenever you lead your puppy to his toilet spot, use a specific word like "outside," "potty time," or whatever term you like as long as you always use the same one. When your pup is in the process of eliminating, use a command like "go potty." Do this consistently and your dog will learn to go on command.

A final world about crate training: Some people misunderstand the purpose of the crate and think that keeping a puppy or dog in a crate or cage is unkind or cruel. The fact is dogs are cave animals. They like the security and comfort of their "cave." For them, the crate is their cave and safe haven.

Valerie Goettsch is webmaster of My Favorite Dog featuring articles and information on crate training a puppy, dog health issues, training, and more.

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