Crating: Cruelty or Kindness?
Many people view a crate as jail for the dog. They reason that a puppy needs freedom and crating will cause him to resent you. However, the contary is true. Dogs need to satisy their "den dwelling" and they love a secure place of their own where they feel safe. Even older dogs can be crate trained. A common cause for puppies and dogs to be surrendered to a shelter is destructive behaviour and/or not being housetrained. These are preventable problems that can be easily solved with crate training.
The crate will provide you and your puppy a means of housebreaking, of keeping your hosehold items safe from destruction and provide a safe, quiet environment when you cannot watch him. Crate training is a positive method of training that results in a happy dog and family. As your puppy grows, the crate continues to be a safe haven and a place to go when he/wants to relax and sleep.
A CRATE SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS PUNISHMENT. Puppies 8 - 16 weeks of age should only be crated 2 - 4 hours. Leaving a puppy or dog in a crate for long periods of time may cause them to soil their cage which teaches them that it is ok to live in messy conditions. This defeats the purpose of housetraining.
What You Will Need
An acceptabe cage or crate should be big enough for your puppy/dog to stand, turn around and stretch out flat. Be sure not to get a cage too big as this will sabotage housetraining because they can soil at one end and sleep at the other. You can obtain a cage that has a partition which can be removed as your puppy grows.
Crate Training During the Day
While at home, start acclimating your puppy to the crate by leaving the door open and allowing the puppy to go in and out at will. Put a blanket or bedding, treats and some toys in the crate. This reinforces that the crate is a place of safety and comfort. Start closing the gate and leaving your puppy inside for about 15 minutes at a time. The puppy may whine for a short time, but then should settle down and sleep. Do not open the crate while your puppy is whining as this teaches him that you will let him out any time he whines.
When your puppy wakes up, immediately take him out of the crate and outside to "potty." Also take him outside after eating and drinking and before placing him in the crate. (These are the most common times a puppy needs to go out.)
Crate Training for Bedtime
Placing the crate in your bedroom gives your puppy association with you. Place a washable blanket, old unwashed t-shirts that smell like you and maybe some toys into the crate with the puppy when you go to bed. Avoid using newspapers as this may encourage elimination. Again your puppy may whine for a short while but should settle down and sleep. Very young pups may wake in the night and you will need to take them out. Do not scold a puppy if he soils in the crate and always praise when he goes outside. As your puppy grows, so will his ability to sleep through the night.