Crate Training Is A Kindness And Helpful Routine
All training starts with taking advantage of your dog’s natural inclinations to reinforce the behavior you want. The only place your dog will not most likely make a mess is their sleeping place. Crate training works with your dog’s instinct. They never have the opportunity to be bad.
Why Crate You Dog?
Crate training is fairly easy. The rule is: if you are not actively paying attention to what your dog is doing, your dog is in the crate. Period. Even if you’re in the same room. If you’re not watching your puppy, they are in the crate where they can’t get to anything bad. If you think caging your dog is cruel, it’s actually beneficial for them as it is to you. Its worse for your dog not to know the rules of the house and get into bad things or even goes potty when your are not looking.
Your dog may whine and bark the first couple of times being in a crate. Do not let them out until they are quiet. Then they will begin to understand that when they are quiet, you will let them out.
*Never use the crate as a punishment. This will only make your dog associate bad things and not want to go into the crate.
Finding the right size of crate for your dog is very easy. At full growth, your dog should be able to stand up without the top touching and they should be able to turn around. With puppies, you want to separate the empty space to just where they can stand and turn around. While they are growing, make sure to give them enough space.
Don’t Leave Them In Their Crates for Hours
Crate training is not an excuse to ignore your dog for hours at a time. A puppy cannot go more than a couple of hours during the day without a bathroom break. If your dog learns to mess in their crate, the behavior is very difficult to correct. Its one of the biggest challenges when adopting strays or rescues from shelters. It can be done, but requires patience and dedication.
Potty Time Intervals
Dogs should be taken out at regular intervals:
- when done eating meals
- after naps
- after play sessions
*Dogs should never be in a crate for more than 8 hours.
Potty Time is Business Time
When taking your dog out just for a potty break, there should be no playing until your dog has done their business. Teach them to potty in one certain area. Put the collar and leash on, take the dog to a specific spot you want them to use for their toilet area. Give your dog a command go potty. If they go potty, reward them with praise and cookies. Say something like “good go potty”. Of course you can use any words you want. Just be careful not to use the phrase under other circumstances.
Sleeping In a Crate
Your puppy should also sleep in their crate, ideally in your bedroom. Dogs are social animals. They need to know their pack or family are close by. I like making the crate like a den by putting blankets over the top and sides. This helps with light shining in and your dog can’t see every move you make.
If the dog wakes you in the night, take them out on a leash. Give them about 10 minutes to do their business. Go back inside, pop them in their crate (small treats can be given), say goodnight and go back to bed. Don’t let the dog outside by itself, even in a fenced yard. Again, this isn’t playtime. You don’t want to be yelling for your dog to come back inside while everyone is trying to sleep!
While Your Dog is Outside of Crate
As your dog learns what’s expected of them, the next phase is to keep the dog on leash, out of the cage. Tie the leash around a belt loop so that you can go about your daily routine with both hands free. Keep one eye on the dog.
When you see their gotta go signals, drop what you’re doing and go. Some people are successful in hanging a bell on the doorknob. They ring the bell whenever they take the dog out. The dog learns, over time, to ring the bell when it has to go. Others teach their dogs to speak as a signal to go out.
My dogs are always crate trained when I leave the house. At this point, they see me reaching for their treats (which sometimes are toys stuffed with a little treat) and they run for their crates. It’s their room, a safe place they can always go to.
Just a note of caution and safety: never leave a collar or harness on your dog in the crate. It can get caught and cause problems.