Dogs are naturally den animals. Because of this you may have noticed your dog making their own den under a desk, a chair, or behind some furniture. Providing a crate for your dog will make him a happier companion and it provides you with a wonderful training tool. Crates are useful when it comes to multiple behavioral problems such as housebreaking, separation anxiety, barking or house destruction.
There are two types of crates, wire or solid which come in molded plastic or canvas material. Most dogs prefer molded solid since it more closely resembles a den. When purchasing a crate it is very important to buy the proper size. The dog should be able to stand up, lay down, and turn around comfortably. The crate should be 1 1/2 times longer than the dogs body (not including the tail) and two inches above his head. It is very important that the crate is not too big for the dog if it is being used for house breaking.
Once you have obtained the crate you should place it in an area of the house which is well populated but also quiet, such as a family room. Bedding may be placed in the crate if the dog will not destroy it. Also make sure to provide a chew toy or two inside the crate for the dog to play with.
During the first few days with the crate it is important to make the puppy feel like this is a fun place. Put treats and toys in the crate and encourage the puppy to go in and get them as he pleases. The puppy may also be allowed to eat in there with the door open. Do not close the puppy into the crate during the first few days.
Once the puppy seems to feel comfortable going in and out of the crate (normally after a few days) provide the puppy with a lot of exercise late in the evening. Make sure that the dog’s last meal was three to four hours prior to bed time. Just before you are going to sleep let the dog out one last time to make sure he does not need to eliminate. Shut the dog in the crate (which can now be placed in the bedroom) with a new chew toy and shut off the lights. The puppy should be tired and go to sleep. If the dog begins to whine and you are sure he does not need to eliminate then ignore him. Even hearing “No!” from their owner is rewarding to a puppy and it will result in more whining.
Please note that even properly trained puppies should not be in their crate for more hours than the number of months they are plus one. Also the instructions above are for dogs who have not ever been inside a crate. If your dog has had a prior bad experience with a crate please contact us for further instruction.