Crate & Housetraining
Crate training is especially important with a puppy, an unruly dog that has no house manners, or a dog in a house with children. A crate should always be seen as a nice place for your dog to go and enjoy some peace & quiet. As long a dog or puppy has been properly introduced to a crate it will become one of their favorite places to rest.
It serves no purpose to put a dog inside a crate without acclimating him or her first. All you get is a dog that perceives the crate as jail. Not a pleasant experience! But a dog will easily take to a crate by feeding all meals inside and making the crate a little puppy heaven. Give him/her a stuffed Kong toy to enjoy inside the crate and they will be begging you to let them inside!
When a puppy cannot be watched, a crate is a safe option to protect your carpet and furniture. A dog that is not housetrained can be better managed by using a crate. In short, a crate is a great tool to manage behavior, prevent problems and a room your dog can call their own.
Housetraining is a combination of 2 things:
- Teaching your puppy or dog where to eliminate (outdoors, not on the carpet)
- Helping them build their muscles to ‘hold it’
That’s it, plain & simple! Ha, if only it were so simple, right?
Those 2 things all come down to owner management. By using a crate to help a dog build their muscles he/she will develop stronger bowel & bladder control. Just don’t take it to extremes. Young puppies may only be able to hold it for an hour since their muscles are so tiny. The idea is to build on the muscle strength just as you would with weight training.
A rule of thumb to use is to take the number of months a puppy is, add 1 and that number is the number of hours a dog can ‘hold it’ in their crate if housetraining with a crate has been used. So, a 3-month-old puppy may well be able to hold it for 4 hours in their crate. Woo-hoo!
Why a crate? Because dogs do not inherently want to potty where they rest. (Puppy mill dogs can have a habit of going potty in their crate due to constant confinement). A space that is too large gives a puppy or dog an opportunity to potty in the corner, but play and rest in another corner.
Each and every time that crate door opens your dog should immediately be taken outside! We want them to know it’s an opportunity to go potty. Should there be an accident in the crate, keep in mind he/she just couldn’t hold it as long as the pup was confined. Do not scold your puppy or dog. Stay calm and carry on.
If there is an accident in the house, clean it up and forget about it. Dogs do not understand punishment for going to the bathroom. It doesn’t make sense to them that there is a right and wrong place to go potty. A baby human would be the same way.
Being consistent and patient is key in the beginning. Your dog will soon learn to wait until taken outside to do their business.