Crate Training 101
What good are crates anyway? Why do we use them after our dogs are housebroken? Some people think that crates are tiny punishment pits and would never dream of locking their dogs away in them. In fact, crates are probably your best friend, and your dog’s. Dogs are 98.8% genetically identical to wolves, which are naturally den animals. *
Crate training can be the best thing you do during your training experience. Housebreaking will be so much easier, and faster during training. When a crate is the appropriate size, a dog is happy to treat his crate as a comfortable bedroom, and no one likes to have accidents in their bedroom. If he isn’t left too long in the crate while learning to hold his bladder, and taken outside as soon as he’s released, your pup should learn very quickly not to have accidents in the house.
Crates are a fantastic tool for safety. When you are away from home, a crate is an ideal safe haven for your pup to prevent him from getting himself into trouble. Dogs can get into all sorts of things when left unsupervised, so putting them in a crate will keep them from chewing on things that don’t belong to them, or eating things that may be dangerous, as well as having accidents in your house.
Crates as a time out can be a useful tool as well. If your dog is getting overexcited by company, or just getting a little too feisty with the kids, his crate can be a good place to take some time to calm down. If your dog won’t calm down, i.e., barking incessantly, feel free to issue a light correction with a spray bottle and a firm NO to quiet them.
Time in the crate depends on the situation. For a time out, it can be anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour, depending on how long your dog takes to settle. For daytime crating, time in the crate can be figured by the dogs age plus one; so, a 3-month-old puppy should be able hold his bladder for about 4 hours. Overnight will be a bit longer, about 1.5. **
Just remember, your dog should remain quietly in his crate until asked to come out, so don’t release him if he’s whining or barking. He’ll learn quickly that his crate is a safe place to take naps, eat meals and just get away from it all.