Pet Store - Crate training

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Puppy Crate Training

Teaching your puppy crate training is the first and best step
in his life. It makes all the other steps in his training go so
much smoother, much like a solid foundation makes for a superior
wall. Establishing you as the Alpha member of his “pack” is one
very good reason for starting your puppy in a crate when he is
very young.

Another reason for crate training is that dogs love
predictability. To know what is going to happen in any given
situation makes him happy, and more apt to be the best-behaved
dog he can possibly be.

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A strong crate is the very basis of good puppy training. A wire
crate with a lock is the best kind. Make sure it is large enough
for him to stand up and turn around. But not so large that he
can roam and wander around. A too-large crate will inhibit
house breaking.

A crate that is just the right size will be perceived as his
“nest”, where puppies never “go potty”. They will learn to hold
it if you don’t make a prison out of it. Never leave a puppy
under 8 weeks longer than one hour in his crate. He will soil
it, after struggling and suffering as long as he can.

Put a nice pad in there with a bone. Start with placing a tasty
treat in there, he will go in and get it. Do this several times
without closing the door, let him come in and out freely for an
hour or so. Praise him highly each time he goes in, make it all
very pleasant.

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Then when his attention is on his treat, close the door. Praise
him quietly, say, “What a good boy, it’s ok, such a good boy!”
In 10 or 20 seconds, no longer, let him out without a word, no
praise, just a pat. Do this for increasingly longer intervals,
but do not give him a chance to get upset. You can do this
several times the first day.

Make sure every training session ends on a happy note, this is

Once he sees the crate is his own private territory, he will go
in there on his own, expecting treats and your attention. When
he does, say, “Wanna crate?” with a happy face while getting
his treats. Start leaving the room while he is in there for 2
minutes and onward, gradually. When you return, don’t make a
fuss, just walk over and open the crate. In 3 days he will be
officially crate-trained, ready to be left alone for an hour,
no longer at first. Leave him gradually longer, slowly and

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Q. Why do I want a crate for my puppy?
A. Because they love it is the best reason. They feel very safe
and secure in there. Here are some more:

-- When you leave a puppy alone, he always has some measure of
separation anxiety. This leads him to any behavior that brings
him comfort, which is chewing, digging, or when it is severe,
voiding his bowels.

-- When placed in a crate, he feels safe because nothing can get
to him, nothing can harm him. He will sleep and chew and wait
for you to return.

-- When leaving him overnight at the vet, if your dog is not
crate trained he will cry the entire time, feeling lost and
abandoned. With crate training, he is sure you will return, you
always do. Of course the vet’s office is strange and will cause
him some anxiety, but nothing like the pure terror he will feel
without experience in being locked in.

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NOTE: About crate-training, do not make a prison of his crate.
Do not use it as punishment. Do not leave him there for more
than 2 hours, just time for a long puppy nap and some chew
time. After that he will cry. Do not remove him while he is
crying. This will make him think he has to cry to get out. No
matter what, make sure he is being good when you open the door.
He will learn he has to be quiet to get out. Do not make a fuss
when you are letting him out, just quietly open the door and
take him out to potty. When he potties, praise him to high
heaven! Dogs naturally do not go where they nest, but sometimes
it happens. Do not scold, just clean it out with a bland face.
He will learn the lesson. If possible, try to clean it while he
is outside so he returns to a clean crate.

In 25 years of training dogs, I have never seen any one thing
more critical for a dog's well-being than good crate training.
And besides, they love it!

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