Puppies and crates

When puppy crate training, remember that the younger he is, the less he can hold his bladder and bowels. Take a look at this posting: Max Crate Training By Age
Set your puppy up to succeed and don’t expect him to hold it for long periods of time.

The key to housebreaking your puppy, with a crate, is leveraging his instinct to not eliminate in his den. If you’re not letting him out as often as he needs he’ll be forced to give up trying to hold it and potty in his crate. This will start teaching him to accept living in or near his mess; clearly something you don’t want him to learn. It can become a very hard habit to break.
Setting up a consistent schedule and sticking to it is the best approach. If you can’t make it home during the day you could hire a dog walker to stop by or have a friend or neighbor do it. Imagine how you would feel if you had to go and had no choice but to do it in a confined area.
Note: Some dogs try so hard to hold it that they get urinary tract infections or kidney problems.
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Is your dog crate too big for the car?

Some vehicles are too small to accommodate big dog crates and cages.
You might just need the room for something else. If, for whatever reason, you can’t put a dog crate / dog cage in your vehicle, there is an alternative.

It’s called a canine seatbelt. These seatbelts look like a harness. Just like a harness, they go around the lower neck, in front of the shoulders, and behind the front legs.
Make sure you get the right size for your dog so that it’s comfortable and safe.
Passenger-side air bags can be deadly to your dog. The same reasoning for not putting a child in the front passenger seat, applies to your dog.
Make sure you always use the canine seatbelt in the backseat.
Note: Many dog cages fold down easily which makes them easily transported. Just because you can’t use the cage in your car doesn’t mean you can’t take it with you.
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Driving with your dog

Don’t let your dog or puppy ride loose in your vehicle. Keep him in a secured crate.
If it’s important for people to wear a seatbelt, shouldn’t the same logic apply to securing your dog?

  • Let’s say you’re driving along and your dog is not secured.
    He sees another dog and gets so excited that he lunges over you.
    You could easily lose control of your vehicle. Especially at high speeds.
  • How about the case where you have to brake hard or swerve to avoid an impact. Your dog becomes a projectile. Possibly hurting himself and/or others in the vehicle.
  • If an accident does happen, your unsecured dog could leave the car and run into traffic. A frightening thought!

There are many more examples of why your dog should be in a crate while driving. Remember that the dog crate needs to be tied down.
Making sure that he’s secure will show how much you care.
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TV and Music

Some dogs find comfort in watching TV or listening to music from their crate. If you like the idea of doing this, first learn what most relaxes your dog while he’s in the dog crate.
Watch his reaction to different TV channels and different types of music. If your dog gets very excited when animals are on TV, you may want to choose another channel. With music, I suggest trying classical or country.
Also, keep in mind that having the volume up too loud will most likely interfere with his rest.

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Choosing a cue so your dog goes to his crate

With proper training your dog will go to his crate all by himself.
First, you need to decide on a cue. It can be any word or phrase.

Common cues are “Bed”, “Dog Crate“, “Crate”, “Go to Crate”, etc…
Use your chosen cue each and every time you bring your dog to his crate.
If more than one person brings him to his crate make sure that they are using the same cue.
It’s harder for your dog to learn if more than one cue is being used.
Stay consistent with the cue and it shouldn’t be long before you start seeing results.

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Where the dog crate shouldn’t go

Here are a few things to remember when considering the location of the dog crate:

  • Keep the crate clear from anything your dog could pull inside. Examples are: electrical wires, tablecloths, bed sheets, curtains…
  • Don’t put the crate near the homes heating or air conditioning. Doing this can adversely affect the temperature inside.
  • Stay consistent with the crate location(s). Your dog will be confused if you keep moving his crate from room to room.  He’ll learn his crate routine much easier this way.
  • Don’t keep the crate in an isolated room. Your dog will feel left out and will be less likely to bond with family members. Keep the crate close to where the family hangs out.
  • Make sure the crate is located in a spot where sunlight never hits it. The temperature inside the crate could drastically raise if you don’t watch out for this.

I always suggest doing the following test before placing your dog in his crate.
Place a thermometer inside the crate and check the temperature several times during the day and night.
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Where should I put the dog crate?

Your dog is a pack animal and he’ll want to be part of his pack. That means he will want to be with you as much as possible. You can crate train and still satisfy this need.

When your dog is in his crate, keep the crate in a room with the most family activity.
It’s important to put the dog crate right in the heart of things. This setup will allow your dog to see what’s going on around him and feel your presence nearby.

(Note: Some crates are designed as end tables to satisfy this need and to fit more with your home’s decor.)
Where should the crate be when it’s time for bed?
Your dog will want to be near you while he’s sleeping. Having him in your bedroom will help him bond with you. It’s ok to not have him sleep in your bedroom. Just make sure to bond with him during the day.

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Maintaining your dog crate

With proper maintenance you should enjoy years of use from your crate. Regular cleaning of your puppy, his crate and the crates bedding will aid in his house training. Doing this also keeps him healthy and prolongs the life of your dog crate.

  • Check the crate and bedding often for fleas and ticks.
  • Wash and sanitize the crate and bedding regularly.
    Note: Your dog might be sensitive to your detergent so be certain to rinse everything thoroughly.
  • Use nontoxic oil on all hinges and latches at least once a month. Use this oil on any damaged areas to prevent rusting. Make sure to wipe off any excess oil.
  • Keep an eye out for anything that might be chipping or flaking and anything that’s sharp or could be eaten by the puppy.
  • Don’t put your dog or puppy in the crate when he is wet or dirty. Doing this will promote rust and growth of bacteria.
  • If you need to change whatever parasite control you are using, make sure to clean your crate and the bedding. The combination of some chemicals for flea/tick control can be very harmful to your dog.
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Dog crate ventilation

It’s important to keep in mind that your dog’s crate is well ventilated.
Dogs that have heavy hair coats, short muzzles or are overweight will do best in a wire crate. Wire dog crates provide the best airflow.
If ventilation is a concern, don’t have the crate against any walls or have anything resting on top of it.

If you want to use a plastic air travel type crate, look for ones with additional ventilation in the back panel. If you find that the plastic crate is not providing enough airflow, you can drill extra holes in it with a large drill bit. Remember that warm air rises and the holes you’re adding will do the most good in the upper half of the crate.

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Crate Training Video

Check out this Crate Training video. It’s pretty well put together and worth a look.

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Comfortable flooring in your dog crate

It’s very important to make your dog as comfortable as possible in his crate.
Dogs resting on hard or uneven surfaces can develop sore spots.
Using a blanket or old clothing in the crate is not a solution.
They provide no padding and often find their way to the back of the
dog crate in a bunched up pile.
I recommend that you purchase a crate bed that is machine washable.

If your puppy is still being potty trained, it’s a good idea to have an extra bed for when he has an accident in the crate.
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What crate training is not

You should never use a dog crate for long term confinement.
A healthy, properly trained, adult dog, can usually remain in the crate for a maximum of 9 hours. Do not leave your dog in the crate any longer than this!
Also, never use the crate as a punishment.
If you use the crate for punishment or long term confinement, you should expect that your dog will develop multiple anxiety related behaviors. This is unhealthy for your dog and will be frustrating to you both.
Please keep in mind that your crate is a tool.
Just like any other tool, it can be used for harm or for good.
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Max Crating Time by Age

A common question for those first crate training a puppy is, “How long can I keep him in his crate?”.
Provided that you have been introducing the crate properly, your puppy can usually remain in the crate without a potty break for the following lengths of time.
Keep in mind that every dog is an individual and may differ from the average. Also remember that puppies under 6 months have weak bladder control.

Age Maximum Time in the Crate
10-12 weeks 30 minutes
4 months 1 hour
5 months 2 hours
6 months 3-4 hours
1 year 5+ hours
Greater than 1 year 9 hours

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A video worth checking out

The video shown in the below link does a few things right that’s worth pointing out.
1) Hang out with the puppy while he’s near or in the crate.
2) Only leave the room once the puppy has relaxed a bit.
3) Only let the puppy out of the crate once he’s relaxed.
4) Don’t take the puppy out, if he is whining or crying.

The page also has some good tips. Check it out.
Click here to check out the video.

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Crate Training Benefits #7

A safe place to recuperate

When your puppy or dog needs to be confined because of illness or injury, a dog crate can really be a blessing. After all, when you’re sick, don’t you prefer to be in a private, familiar, safe place until you are better? The crate will shield your recuperating friend from other pets, children, or anything that will interfere with him getting a really good rest.
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Crate Training Benefits #6

Give your puppy some flexibility of location

Who doesn’t love the idea of falling asleep with a super cute puppy and waking up with his cute face right next to you? For many people, this becomes a habit that’s hard to break. What’s more natural than a den animal sleeping with his pack?
If this isn’t what you want, there’s a way to still allow your puppy to bond with you, in the bedroom, without actually being on your bed. I’m sure by now you’ve guessed that I’m talking about a dog crate.
Let’s face it, puppies are a handful. If you have chores to do, most people will keep their puppy in another room. In the crate, he can be safely in the kitchen, while you’re chopping food for dinner. Try vacuuming with a puppy in the room and you will understand what I mean.
Your puppy will still need training for proper house manners and family etiquette, but using a crate may help you maintain a sense of loving companionship while he learns acceptable behavior.
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Crate Training Benefits #5

Time Out Area

A puppy is often overly rambunctious. If a long walk or a play session doesn’t calm him down, you may choose to redirect his energy by giving him a toy and puppy crate time out for a short while.
A very important rule when crate training is to NEVER let your dog think he is being punished or banished when he is put in the crate. When bringing him to it, be friendly and encouraging to him. You should also give him one or two of his favorite toys.
Giving him a treat each time you bring him to the crate is a good practice also.
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Crate Training Benefits #4

Travel Safety

If you need to take your puppy somewhere in your car, a crate is a safe method of confining him. Your puppy could interfere with your driving. Crating allows you to open the windows for ventilation without the risk of him jumping out.
It also keeps your car damage and potty free, if you need to leave the parked car for a bit. (Be sure to park in the shade and crack the windows, of course)
If you need to leave the puppy at a friend’s house, a boarding kennel or a veterinarian’s office, his own puppy crate will help to alleviate anxiety he may feel when separated from you and his home. The crate becomes his own portable “room” and place of security.
If you take your puppy on a vacation, you will find that many motels and hotels permit crate trained puppies, since they cannot damage the room if they are confined.
Many families have fenced in enclosures in the rear of their car for their pet. A crate serves the same purpose, but it’s also portable and offers a safe, familiar, comforting environment.
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Note – I’m referring to puppies in this posting because this is the age crate training usually begins. In most instances, the same points apply to an older dog.
Older dogs are usually easier to crate train. I’ll make sure to post the differences between puppies and older dogs.

Crate Training Benefits #3

Give your puppy his own space

A puppy will easily and happily learn that the crate belongs to him.
It’s his private place where he can go when he feels tired or grumpy.
He can take his favorite toy or chew item there without the family cat or another dog interfering. The crate is also a place of security for the new puppy, giving him a sanctuary when you have unruly children or a friend’s incompatible pet visiting. In situations like these, the puppy may go to the crate on his own. You may want to give him a treat in the crate so that he can enjoy himself without being bothered by the visitor.
If the puppy crate is wire, you can put a blanket over the top during the visit to ensure privacy.
Doing this with a wire crate is recommended for it’s strength and because it allows for proper ventilation. If visiting children seem likely to poke about the puppy’s crate, simply tell them that your puppy is taking a nap and shouldn’t be bothered.
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Note – I’m referring to puppies in this posting because this is the age crate training usually begins. In most instances, the same points apply to an older dog.
Older dogs are usually easier to crate train. I’ll make sure to post the differences between puppies and older dogs.

Crate Training Benefits #2

Deterring Destructive Habits

An untrained puppy should never be allowed to roam free in the house.
Leaving him unsupervised in your home puts him and your possessions at risk.
Your puppy could encounter dangerous items such as toxic chemicals, toxic plants, electrical cords, fans and medicines. The most common danger I’ve seen has been when they swallow an everyday item that you would normally deem harmless and it gets stuck in their digestive track.
He may make confetti from the Sunday comics or turn your favorite sneakers or the leg of your antique chair into a chewing toy.
These bad digging, tearing and chewing habits are difficult to correct once they have started.
The best approach to preventing these unwanted behaviors is to confine the puppy. Keep him in his puppy crate with a couple toys when you’re away from home. When you are with him at home and he is running around free, it’s your job to teach him which items are off limits.
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Note – I’m referring to puppies in this posting because this is the age crate training usually begins. In most instances, the same points apply to an older dog.
Older dogs are usually easier to crate train. I’ll make sure to post the differences between puppies and older dogs.

Crate Training Benefits #1

Housebreaking a puppy

Puppies have a natural instinct to not soil in their den.
This instinct can be used to your advantage for housebreaking.
If you leave your puppy in a small room, you’ll notice that the room usually has two sides. One side where she plays/rests and the other where she relieves herself. Clearly, a room is too big to take advantage of the “clean nest” instinct. The same result can happen in a crate that’s too big for your puppy. In this case, your little guy will be resting on one side of the puppy crate and soils on the other.
If the puppy is confined to a properly fitted crate, she is likely to “hold it” until she is taken outdoors.
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Note – I’m referring to puppies in this posting because this is the age crate training usually begins. In most instances, the same points apply to an older dog.
Older dogs are usually easier to crate train. I’ll make sure to post the differences between puppies and older dogs.

Humane Society Video

This video was posted on the “The Humane Society of the United States” website.

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Initial thoughts on crate training.

Crate training uses a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal.
Your training is going well if your dog enters his crate on his own and enjoys spending time in it.
The biggest mistake people make in using a dog crate is skipping the training part.
Your dog will not automatically know what a crate is. Do not bring a crate home and just stick your dog in it. Doing this is not associating a positive experience with the crate.
If you do this, you should expect your dog to be confused. He could even end up fearing his new den.
Teach your dog that his crate is a comfortable, fun place for him to stay.
A crate is a sort of playpen for your dog. It keeps him safe. You should have toys and cozy blankets in it. When you, the parent, have to pay attention to other things, it’s a perfect place to keep him.

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