Crate Training Your Puppy
A crate is a puppy owner's second-best friend. Properly used, a crate will help with potty training your puppy, prevent chewing and other destructive behaviors, provide a familiar refuge at home or away, and keep your puppy safe. If you use the crate as it's meant to be used, your dog will consider it his den. Some dogs choose to lie in their crates even when the doors are open.
When you're potty training a puppy, his crate should be big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down. It should not be bigger than that. Most dogs don't like to sleep where they eliminate, so you don't want to give your puppy room to potty at one end of his crate and go sleep at the other end.
How long should a puppy stay in a crate? A general guideline is that a puppy should be crated for no longer than his age plus one. So if your puppy is two months old, don't crate him for more than three hours. If he's four months old, no longer than five hours.
How long should a puppy stay in a crate? The rule of thumb is that a puppy should be crated for no longer than his age plus one. So if your puppy is two months old, don't crate him for more than three hours. If he's six months old, no longer than seven hours. But keep in mind that that's a general guideline—puppies vary. If your four-month old pup does fine in the crate for four hours, but piddles at four and a half hours, then don't leave him longer than four hours without a break. An adult dog can occasionally tolerate crating for eight or nine hours, but that's hard on a dog physically and mentally. How would you like to stay in one small room with no toilet for eight hours?
Remember, you're using the crate in part to teach your puppy not to potty in there, so don't put paper or weewee pads on the bottom. Use a blanket for bedding if your puppy doesn't potty on it or rip it up. If he does, don't give him any bedding until he outgrows the urge to shred it or dirty it.
Don't use the crate for punishment. It should be a good place, a safe place. Feed your puppy in the crate. When you're training him to get into his crate, toss a toy or treat in and say “Crate!” When he hops in, praise him, close the door, and give him another small treat. If possible, put the crate in your bedroom at night.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting and Owning a Dog © 2003 by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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