Image by Tom Simpson
Crate training puppies is the fastest way to get your puppy potty trained. It makes it very easy for you to understand your puppy’s eating and potty schedule, while making it very clear to your puppy where his bathroom area is. Crate training is humane and safe for your puppy, as long as you follow common sense and make sure your puppy has plenty of breaks throughout the day.
Some people have a hard time with the crate training because they feel it is mean, and your puppy may complain at first about being kept in the crate. However, this is not cruel or mean at all, dogs like to have a den, and this creates a safe place for him that he knows is his “home.” The reason why crate training works so well is because a dog is highly resistant to messing up his home, and will hold off until he gets to another location to relieve himself.
Purchase a crate that is large enough only to allow your dog to lie down and get up and walk in a small circle. As he gets bigger, you may upgrade to a larger crate if necessary. Dogs do not like to sleep in their own urine (who would?) and so they will hold off as long as possible.
Keep track of the times each day your dog eats, drinks and goes to the bathroom. This will help you develop a schedule for potty breaks around the times of day your dog needs to go. For puppies, a good rule of thumb is one hour per month, so if your puppy is 4 months old, expect him to need to go potty every four hours, which may require getting up in the middle of the night. Typical potty times tend to happen first thing after waking up in the morning, after walks or playtime, about half an hour after eating or drinking, and before bed. For young puppies a few night time trips may also be needed.
When you take your puppy out of his crate the first thing you do is take him right to the potty area.
If he tends to get distracted, simply carry him straight there and set him down. Be prepared to wait quietly for 10-15 minutes, especially in the learning phase. A command helps develop the habit, such as “do your business!” and you can repeat this again while he is actually going to reinforce the message. Once he has finished, immediately heap lots of praise and affection. You want to make a big show of how pleased you are with that behavior. If no potty, then take him right back to the crate, and try again in 20 minutes. Repeat until a successful potty, and then reward the good habit with playtime. It is important to teach your dog that potty first, then playtime. This will then become regular habit with your dog as he gets older.
Crate training puppies can be a challenge like anything else, but if you follow the proper steps, you can expect success. One important rule to remember is that you should keep your puppy in his crate throughout the day and night but with regular breaks for playing and stretching. While your puppy is out of his crate, you must keep your eyes on him at all times. Literally! You look away for one second, and that is when he pees on the carpet, and you’ve lost that opportunity to teach him the proper way. If you catch him about to have an indoor accident, shout No! and whisk him up and run out to the right area. This might be messy and chaotic, but it is the only chance you have to help him learn from his mistake. Punishments do not work because they do not have a clue what you are angry about.
Understand that accidents will happen, but be prepared that you should not call attention to it. Just clean it up quietly and while he is not watching. Be sure to use a special cleaning product that will get rid of the urine odor so your dog doesn’t think that spot is the potty. Just remember that it will take time and patience for your puppy to learn good habits. He needs you to show him the way.
Amber Summers is a small business owner and consultant. Her passions include education, tea, wine, reading and her two adorable Maltese puppies. You can visit her blog to learn more: Crate Training Puppies