Dogs are den animals and feel secure in small enclosed spaces. By nature, they will avoid excreting waste in the place where they den and prefer it to be as clean as possible. Dog crates make excellent dens when sized properly. The idea that placing a dog in a crate is cruel is a common misconception. Crates should be used throughout a dog’s life and the sooner you introduce your dog to their own crate the better off you both will be. A dog’s instinct is to please their owner and most problem behaviors occur while the owner is away. If the dog is in a crate while you are away problem behaviors are avoided and they usually spend most of this time sleeping. Introducing your pet to a crate is one of the best steps you can make toward a properly balanced dog. Crate-trained dogs also travel easier with their dens since they feel secure. This also helps when visiting the veterinarian or groomer who uses crates.
Crate training is the easiest method to housebreak your dog. When returning home, remove your dog from the crate and immediately take them to your chosen spot and encourage them to “go potty,” or whatever command you feel comfortable with. Allow them no more than 3 to 5 minutes to potty, not play. If unsuccessful, start the routine over with more crate time. Keep in mind the age of your puppy and how long they may be able to hold their bladder. Dogs vary, but as a, rule a 3-month old puppy should be able to last through the night. Also, it’s never too late to start using a crate; older dogs may require more time to acclimate. It is also important not to show excitement when removing them from the crate, rather use a soft subtle tone or say nothing until at the potty spot. Excitement can cause many small dogs to experience submissive urination, a behavior that can be difficult to break. Likewise, while placing your dog in the crate before you leave, it’s best to remain calm.
The crate should be just big enough for the dog to walk in, turn around, and lay down. It is okay to purchase the size crate that will suit the dog’s needs when fully grown. Using a divider to control the amount of crate available is a good idea while your puppy is growing. Don’t use a crate that is too big or it will defeat the natural “den” instinct. Your pet may use one end of the crate to go potty instead of exercising bladder control.
Position the crate in an area that is easy to supervise, not in an isolated area. At night your bedroom is an ideal place so the dog can feel secure near their owner. Avoid drafts or direct heat, and experiment with crate drapes on the top and/or sides for added security. Multiple crates throughout your home makes training much easier. Be sure to never leave a puppy unattended. If you can’t watch them – crate them.
A crate should never be overused or used as a form of punishment. Crates must always be regarded as a safe and special retreat for your dog. Is your dog crate trained?