Crate training can be one of the most effective ways to house train a puppy. By training with a crate, you are utilizing the dog’s natural instincts to help with the house training process. Wolves in the wild have a den/cave that they do not soil. Giving a dog a crate is a way of giving your dog this “cave” or safe area. The crate serves the purpose of teaching your dog to control his or her bladder, and not just go at any time. Crate training must be combined with teaching your puppy the proper location to relieve him/herself. Please remember the following rules:
- The crate should never be used for punishment! Remember, the crate is the dog’s “safe cave” where they are comfortable and happy. If the dog needs a “time-out” area, use an alternative location such as the bathroom or laundry room.
- Puppies cannot hold their bladders as long as older dogs. Ideally, a puppy should not be left in a crate for very long. They need the human interaction, as well as frequent bathroom breaks, to aid in their training and development.
- The crate should be big enough for the puppy to lie down, stand up, and turn around in comfortably. If the crate is too big, they will make a mess on one end of the crate, and sleep on the other end. The crate should also contain a bowl of water.
- As you release the dog from the crate, immediately take them outside. Do not pay attention to your dog until they go potty outside. After they go potty, reward them with positive attention and occasional food treats.
- The moments your puppy is most likely to need to go to the bathroom is immediately after eating and after waking from a nap. Your pet should be consistently taken out at those specific times.
- Your puppy must be in the crate any time they cannot be directly supervised. When not in the crate, they must be either outdoors or within your grasp. If your puppy urinates inappropriately, you must pick them up mid-stream and carry them outside, telling them “No”. If your puppy is on the other end of the room, it is too late, which is why they should always be within arms reach until trained. Some people will tether the puppy to themselves with a leash, to keep them from wandering off.
- Praise is essential. Praise your pet as soon as he/she goes potty in an appropriate location outside.