Crate training is an essential element for successful cohabitation between pet and owner. Don't think of crates as cages for dogs. Think of them as dens, because dogs are instinctively den animals. Crates provide a clean, safe, and comfortable place for a dog to rest and sleep. They also provide a dog owner a place to confine the dog safely when necessary. Crate training can also help with housebreaking because dogs, even puppies, do not like to soil their dens.
Choose a proper crate for your puppy. A puppy should be able to stand up straight on four legs, lie down, and stretch out comfortably in the crate. A good gauge is if your puppy can spin around without touching the sides. Consider buying a crate with a divider that you can adjust as your puppy grows.
Introduce the puppy to the crate with the door open. Make the crate as inviting as possible by placing a pet bed or an old blanket inside. Throw in bits of food, a toy or a treat to lure the puppy in. Praise your puppy enthusiastically each time it goes into the crate.
Determine a command word or phrase for crating your puppy. Use "crate" or "go in" and say the command every time your puppy goes into the crate. If you say the command word consistently, your puppy will learn to go into the crate on command.
Close the door to the crate for a few minutes once the puppy goes in willingly. Try gradually adding five or ten minutes according to how well your puppy takes to confinement. For the first few times, stay in the room after closing the door.
Leave the room with the puppy crated for a few minutes. If the puppy remains calm and comfortable, try leaving the house for thirty minutes or an hour. Never leave a 10-week-old puppy crated for more than an hour or two, depending on the breed. Ask your vet for specific time allowances for your dog.
Open the crate to let your puppy out every hour or two. Leash your puppy and immediately take it to an area outside where it can eliminate waste. If you take your puppy to this same area consistently, it will help with the housebreaking process.
Continue the pattern of crating and letting your dog out while increasing the amount of time in the crate. If training goes well, your puppy will begin to go into the crate on its own to sleep or simply to hang out and rest.
Set a general routine for crating, potty time and feeding. Always let your puppy out first thing in the morning and before bedtime every night. Feed on a time schedule. 10-week-old puppies should be fed at least twice a day and should always have clean water available.
Never crate an adult dog for more than 8 hours at a time as health problems can develop.
- puppy image by SKYDIVECOP from Fotolia.com