Using a crate for a new puppy or dog is a great way to help your new family member transition into the household. It will keep your valuables safe from destruction when you are not home and most importantly it will keep him safe from household hazards.
Many dogs, left loose in the house have gotten into poisons, chewed into electrical cords, and even gotten out of the house. Don't think of a crate as cruel, but as a safety measure. You wouldn't leave a toddler alone in the house, and you shouldn't leave a puppy or new dog alone either.
When used properly your new puppy or dog will view the crate as an area of security and he will go his "den" frequently when he wants to rest. Dogs are den animals and feel comfortable in an enclosed space. Many dogs when left to choose their sleeping area choose their crates, or under a desk, bed or table, giving them a sense of security.
Location is very important for your new family member to become comfortable with his crate. If you place the crate in an isolated area such as garage or utility room, he will cry more because he is lonely. The crate should be placed in an area that includes people and where he spends time both in and out of the crate.
Bedrooms are ideal because he will hear you sleeping and will not feel isolated and will sleep through the night sooner. If the bedroom is not an option, place the crate in an area of the house that you spend a lot of time in such as the kitchen or family room.
Choose the right size of crate. The crate just needs to be big enough for him to stand up straight, and sleep comfortably. If the crate is too big the he may feel content to sleep on one end and urinate on the other. Puppies naturally want to keep their den clean, so if your crate is large enough for him to fit in as an adult, you may need to partition off a portion for him to use while he is small. Don't expect him to be able to hold his urine very long. A young puppy should not be expected to hold his urine for more hours than his age in months, plus one.
Acclimate him to the crate. One mistake people often make is that the first time they put the their new puppy or dog in the crate they then leave for work or go off to bed leaving him alone in the crate for hours. Spend some time with him tossing toys and treats into the crate letting him run in and out without closing the door. Give him a food stuffed toy or a chew bone in the crate and leave him for just a few minutes at first and when he comes out of the crate the chew item is put away. Vary the time period that he is in the crate. Sometimes let him out after only a few seconds. Fluctuate between short times periods and longer times. If done properly your puppy will view the crate as his area and you will find him sleeping in there with the door open.
Use your crate when you are unable to supervise your new dog or puppy and give him plenty of attention, exercise and training when he is out. Give him sturdy chew items and food stuffed toys when he is in the crate. The crate can be a wonderful tool to train your new dog or puppy and keep him safe from household hazards.
Tip of the week: Whether you have a new puppy or a newly rescued dog, a crate can keep your dog safe and your personal items and furniture safe until you know your dog won't destroy your belongings!
Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the trainers are all graduates of Purdue University's DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.