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A crate is not “doggy jail” it is a place of sanctuary for your puppy or dog. With proper introduction to the crate your dog will view it as his own private room where he can get some peace and quiet. House training puppies is more easily accomplished with the use of a crate as it provides a “safe house” when you cannot closely supervise the activities of your puppy. You would not let a toddler have the run of the house unsupervised; most people would use a playpen or other form of confinement so the child stays safe in the environment, the same applies to your puppy.

There are numerous benefits to using the crate:
1- Security for your dog.
2- Safety for your dog.
3- Prevention of damage in the home due to chewing, potty accidents etc.
4- Ease of traveling; crating in the car keeps the dog restrained in case of an accident, prevents the dog from distracting the driver and prevents the dog from wanting to taste the interior of the car.

There are several types of crates to choose from: wire collapsible, hard plastic, solid metal and soft sided crates. Soft sided crates should only be used for dogs that are beyond the teething stage and are comfortable in their crate. If you have an anxious dog, an escape artist or a chewer, do not use a soft sided crate! If you are traveling by air with your dog you will need a solid metal or hard plastic crate. Dogs cannot be shipped in wire collapsible or soft sided crates. Some of the wire crates have been spruced up with a rattan look to the exterior therefore fitting in well as a piece of furniture.

The size of crate needed depends on the adult size of your dog. The dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Purchasing a crate that will fit the adult version of your puppy will save expense later. Most of the wire crates now come with an interior divider that can be adjusted as the puppy grows.

The house crate should be kept in a place occupied by the family as dogs are very social animals and prefer to be with the pack. If you isolate your puppy or dog away from the family they will likely whine, howl and bark due to loneliness. It is not fair to a puppy to keep him isolated away from the pack (family) as they feel vulnerable when left alone. You would not put a human baby in the garage or laundry room in her crib would you? I like to have a crate in my bedroom for the puppy to sleep in at night. The puppy can hear and smell me and I can hear the puppy if he wakes up during the night needing to go for a potty break. Most puppies will wake you up 1-3 times a night in the beginning. It’s not fun to stand outside in the cold and rain waiting for puppy to potty at 3 A.M but it’s all a part of our responsibilities when we bring a puppy into our lives.

Training puppies to use the crate:

The first session of confinement in the crate should be after your puppy has played and has gone potty outside. The puppy should be ready for a nap by this time so should take to the crate pretty easily. Put the puppy in the crate with a safe toy such as a Kong or Nylabone and close the crate door. Do not make a big fuss over putting him in the crate or leaving him this should be done in a calm manner. The puppy may show a little stress by whining and crying a bit but do not go to the puppy at this time. You do not want puppy to think that having a tantrum will bring you to him! The puppy will settle down after a few minutes and should go to sleep. You should check in on the puppy (do not disturb him if he is sleeping) so that when he wakes up you are ready to take him out to go potty. When you take him out of his crate do not make a big deal out of it. Just open the door, pick the puppy up and carry him outside to do his business. By not making a fuss over putting puppy in or taking him out the puppy remains calm and views his crate as a safe, stress free comfortable place to be. The puppy should not be in the crate for more than a couple of hours at a time during the day before being let out to potty, eat, play and explore. When crating for the night make sure puppy has had plenty of time to go potty outside before putting him to bed for the night. You will probably have to get up to let puppy outside in the middle of the night as most young pups cannot hold it all night. If you take the puppy out in the middle of the night do not make it a play session; just go out to potty and then put him back to bed.

Training adult dogs to use the crate:

Teaching an adult dog to use a crate can be a bit difficult in the beginning if the dog has had no prior experience with crating. Feeding the dog in the crate with the door open helps to develop a positive association with it. Also throwing treats or toys into the crate so the dog has to go in to get them is helpful. Once the dog associates the crate with food or toys it is time to try closing the door and leaving the dog in the crate for a short period of time. Make sure that you are close by the first time you shut the door so that you can settle the dog if he is too anxious. Make sure you put the dog in the crate calmly and take him out with the same relaxed attitude. Do not let the dog out if he is barking or whining; wait until he stops then go calmly to him and let him out. You can begin extending the time the dog is in the crate once he is comfortable with the experience. You should not leave him in the crate for more than 4 hours except at night.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, socialization and training time during the day. Once the dog has good house manners use the crate only when needed. Your dog should know by then that the crate is his personal space, his private den, where he can go for quiet time any time he wants to. If you leave the crate door open you may very well find him taking a nap in his den where he feels safe and secure.
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