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Crate Training for Puppies and Dogs

Crate Training for Puppies and Dogs

Crates can prevent problems with both young and older dogs - teaching them a degree of independence and prevent them from becoming over-attached and hence destructive or noisy when alone. 

They are also INVALUABLE for helping puppies or older dogs with their housetraining.

Why should I have a crate for my puppy?  Your crate is a most useful way of general puppy training.  It allows for a well structured, supervised routine to be established so the puppy quickly and easily learns the correct habits to live happily in your family.

The crate really comes into its own with toilet-training and is invaluable as protection for the puppy when he is left on his own; to confine him when he may be underfoot at busy times; and to take him safely with you when you travel.

Training your puppy to go to the toilet where you want him to.  Make sure you take your dog or puppy outdoors to toilet on a regular schedule and especially prior to being left for prolonged periods of time. Always take your puppy outside on a leash to the same area in your backyard to toilet and introduce a command like “wee wee’s” so you can praise him when his jobs are finished and at the same time he is learning a new word to encourage him to do what you want him to do, on command. This will take the guesswork out of his visits to the backyard.

Is it a cage?   Although the crate does have a door with which to shut the puppy in, it is wrong to think of it as a cage.  It is not intended as this, and the pup should not come to regard it as such.  The crate should be thought of as the puppies den - his security, his refuge and comfort!  The crate will satisfy his need for a den - a need he has inherited from his den-dwelling ancestors - the wolf.

How do I get my puppy used to the crate?  Your puppy should be introduced to his/her crate carefully.

It is essential that puppies regard the den as their base in the house.  Put bedding on the floor of the crate, and make sure it covers the whole bottom.  Scampers recommend VetBed which is easily washable, quick to dry and resistant to mild chewing.

Put a few toys in the crate for your puppy, we recommend high quality chew toys, pressed rawhide in big sizes and the excellent Kong range from Company of Animals - ask for a leaflet in-store. 

To start with you can throw a few titbits into the crate and let the puppy go in and get them in his own time.  Let your puppy wander in and out for a while to accustom himself to his crate.  Initially, every time he goes in his crate he should have a titbit.  Your puppy may be fed in there and should have a secured water bowl although we would recommend that the bowl is removed after last goodnights.

It is more settling for your puppy if the crate is placed in some quiet corner of a room, well used by the family, so that he does not feel isolated.  It should not be moved around much.  Most people choose the kitchen as the most suitable room.

Please make sure that you leave your puppy no more than three hours at anyone time, except overnight.  Whenever possible he should be out of the crate for well-supervised freedom, to play and be handled and socialised by the family.

Remember it is not a cage and not a ‘sin-bin’.  The puppy should always be taken into the garden after eating, when he has just woken up and after a play period before he goes back into his crate.  Do not punish your puppy if he has an ‘accident’ in the crate or on the floor overnight.

What do I do about leaving my puppy?  An additional advantage to his crate is that it is a safe place to leave him while you are out.  You do not have to worry about what he is doing to himself or YOUR HOME while you are out!

How do I decide on the correct size of crate?  This is very important.  There should be enough room for the puppy to stand up without his head touching the top and to stretch and turn around; obviously a puppy grows quickly so you do not want to start with a crate that only just fits him.

There must also, not be, too much room.  The principle behind the use of the crate for toilet-training is that a puppy does not like to toilet in the same place as he eats and sleeps.  This is instilled in the puppy from the first days of life with his mother.  If the crate is too big, the puppy will use one corner for sleeping and the rest as a toileting area.

We would always recommend getting a crate that will fit your puppy as a grown up, but, this means with large breeds you will either have to divide the crate to control the amount of space or start with a smaller one and get a bigger crate when you think he has outgrown the first.

Do I always use the crate for my puppy?  As the puppy becomes older, he can obviously be given more freedom.  The door of the crate can be left open so that he can use it as a refuge for sleep or to escape from persistent children or other family pets.  He need then only be locked in at night and when you go out (starting with very short periods, maybe just 10 minutes) until you feel confident that all lessons have been learned.

Is there anything I should not do?  The crate must always be a secure safe area for your puppy to enjoy; it should never be used as a punishment sin-bin.  Neither should you regard it as a way of leaving your puppy alone for long periods.

Are there any other uses for the crate?  Many people find the crate useful in other aspects.  Once your puppy has become used to the crate, the crate can be used to transport him safely in your car.  The crate also becomes useful if you want to take the pup away for weekends to friends or a hotel.

There may also be a time after injury or veterinary treatment that he will need to be confined for recuperation and because he was crate trained he will find this much easier. 

You will find it won’t be long before the crate becomes the second best friend for both you and your puppy.

Always remember to ensure your puppy or dog is well exercised and all 'nature breaks' have been taken before putting your puppy or dog into their crate.  Only put them in the crate when they are in a calm state.