With the fact that a few of my friends recently adopted puppies, I thought I might express a little information on the methods of crate training that I gathered while working for the humane society. Crate training is one of the best and easiest ways to house train a dog, and it’s also a great way to give your new dog a place to retreat and feel safe.
To a dog, a crate mimics a den. All dogs have a denning instinct which drives them to find a place that is dark, warm, and secure from predation.Even though our domestic dogs shouldn’t fear the sort of predation that their wild ancestors do, they still have this instinct to find a den. That is where providing a crate can create a sense of security for your puppy. To create this atmosphere you must first select the right crate. The one rule here is that the crate should be large enough for the dog to stand, sit, turn around, and lay down. He should not be able to walk a few paces in his crate, because if he can he may choose to make one corner of his crate a latrine of sorts, and that will defy one of the main purposes of crate training. Once you find the right sized crate, make it cozy by adding blankets or pillows, put a couple of his favorite toys in as well. Also make sure to give your puppy water while in the crate. Now the crate has become a den, a retreat, a haven.
When it comes to using the crate as a form of house training, there a couple of must follow rules. Rule number one is never ever leave your puppy in the crate longer than it is possible for your puppy to hold his bladder. Think of soiling his den the same way kids think of wetting the bed. A puppy is generally able to hold his bladder for a maximum of one hour per month of age. So if a puppy is two months old, they can typically hold their bladder for two hours. Hold on to this rule, and do not let your puppy wet the bed!
The other important rule of crate training is to never use the crate as punishment. Remember your dogs crate is his haven, and you should treat it as such. Always reward positive behavior, and simply ignore bad behavior. Should your puppy have an accident in the house, clean it up the best you can, and make sure to give your puppy more adequate time to use the potty outside giving him lots of praise when he does so.
A word on children and crate training. It is important to set up rules for our human children around a new puppy. So going back to the fact that the crate is his retreat, make sure that your children understand that concept. Puppies can sometimes get overwhelmed by kids, and in these instances will probably seek shelter in their den, or crate. The rule here is that when the puppy chooses to go into his crate, he is off limits, because he is seeking quiet time, safety, and maybe just a rest from the playing that he gotten from his human friends.
It is so important to give your dog a safe retreat, a place that is his own. Crates are the easiest way to provide that, and to house train. Eventually the dogs mindset toward his crate may transfer to your home in general and the need for a crate may not be necessary when he gets older. However, let your dog make that choice, allowing him access to his room for as long as he needs or wants.