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What Are The Essentials of Crate Training?

What Are The Essentials of Crate Training?

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how to crate train a puppy

Crate Training refers to a technique in which a small indoor specialized kennel (crate) is used to confine your puppy while she’s in training and you are not actively supervising her. Your puppy remains in her crate at all times unless actively supervised by you. She is released from her crate for eating, sleeping, being escorted outside to the toilet, or supervised play/recreation. You can anticipate an investment of one to two months of your time depending on factors such as the breed of your dog, how much time you devote to her training, and how well your puppy responds to her training. As your puppy matures, you can begin reducing the amount of time spent in her crate, but be patient and do not try to advance too quickly.

How does it work?

All dogs have an innate dislike of leaving waste in their sleeping area. We’ve all heard the cliché: “Even a dog won’t leave his house dirty.” Your dog knows his crate/kennel is where she has to sleep and will wait to relieve himself in a proper area. Restricting your puppy’s movement to his sleeping area forces his to retain his stool until released from his kennel/crate. Timing and a watchful eye are everything in this training scenario. Waiting too long to assist your puppy is not healthy for his, and if you wait too long your puppy has no choice. This in turn, defeats your training objective.

Consistence is the key. Without it crate training will not be effective. You must devote your time and energy to your puppy and keep him in a highly supervised environment all the time.

One of the more difficult challenges is not to allow him access to your house until he is thoroughly trained. Without the proper training your pet will instinctively relieve himself when the urge strikes and defeat the very basis of his training. Each time this happens you will find it increasingly difficult to maintain a training schedule.

If you have an attached garage, a ‘doggy door’ (a small vertically swinging door cut in the bottom middle of an exterior door) leading into the garage can make a very suitable arrangement. Your pet doesn’t have to be outside in inclement weather, which means he doesn’t track up your house.

How do I choose a crate?

Crate/kennel sizing is also a crucial aspect of training. If the crate is too big, he will use one end for sleeping and the other end as a toilet area. Once again, this defeats your purpose. The crate size will increase over the training period.

You will need either a series of progressively larger crates, or one that he can grow into. In the first case, cardboard boxes are sufficient in most cases. (Please cut ventilation and view strips in the cardboard.) I have made simple wooden kennels resembling a box kite with 1" slats (furring strips: 1"x2"x8' less than $1.00) spaced 3" apart for the sides. This allows a puppy to see his outside world, and it also provides for better ventilation.

Using a simple piece of plywood as a vertical sliding door, and a series of top and bottom notches as doorway guides, I created a crate/kennel in which I can move the vertical door back a few inches progressively to increase the internal space. If you picture a filing cabinet with one hanging file folder, my homemade crate has the same effect. Move the "hanging folder"/barricade back and you have increased the interior space. The vertical door is held in place by 3/8ths inch saw cuts in the top and bottom wooden framework. If you're not handy with tools you could fill the unused backend with books or any solid objects. You can also purchase metal crates similar to the one pictured.

However, my own choice is always a crate-kennel with an open top so your puppy has a little more freedom.

How long should a puppy be left in his crate?

- Many trainers suggest the following formula for deciding the maximum crate training time:

Use his age in months and add one. Based on this formula a three-month old puppy can be left in his crate for a maximum of four hours. Please note – this is the maximum time period but not the suggested or optimal time. Remember, your puppy is in his crate for training … not punishment. Leaving him in a small, confined area for several hours does not create an environment that is happy, healthy, and conducive to training. It is highly recommended that you take him out at least once every two hours if not more frequently. Toilet training is important for your puppy but so is socialization. The good news is that you can accomplish both with just a little added effort on your part.