Crating your puppy keeps him safe and secure while you're busy, away or sleeping, giving you peace of mind that your puppy -- and your belongings -- are safe while you can't keep an eye on things. Food and water inside the crate are almost always a no-no for several reasons.
Crate training is among the most trusted ways of potty training your pup while also giving him a safe place and keeping him out of trouble when you can't keep your eyes on him. It becomes a comfortable place in your home that is your pooch's own; many dogs will voluntarily go in the crate once they've become accustomed to it. A common mistake with crate training, however, is leaving your puppy in for too long and using it solely as a "puppy sitter."
Puppies are like clockwork, so to speak. What goes in must go out, and putting him on a regular feeding schedule can help you determine when he's going to need to relieve himself. For example, many puppies will need to eliminate 20 or so minutes after eating. When you make his feeding schedule, you'll have a better idea of a time frame of when he'll need to potty. While your puppy is out of the crate, allow him access to fresh water throughout the day, but remove it about 2 1/2 hours before bedtime.
Maximum Crate Time
Puppies aren't able to stay in a crate for long periods of time due to a couple of reasons: puppies aren't able to control their eliminations as well as adult dogs, and too much time in a crate can lead to emotional and behavioral problems. A young puppy 8 to 10 weeks old should only be in a crate for an hour at most; 11- to 14-week-old puppies can stay in for a maximum of three hours; 4-month-old puppies can stay in a crate for four hours; and puppies over 4 months old can stay in for five hours. Adult dogs can stay in for 8 hours or so, although they should still be let out in the middle of the day.
Food and Water in the Crate
Food is unnecessary in the crate and can lead to your puppy having an unfortunate accident inside his safe place. If he's on a schedule, it's your responsibility to maintain that schedule. Once your puppy is older and capable of staying in a crate for most of the day, put him on a morning and night schedule -- or a schedule that fits your at-home time. This makes it easier for you to control his bowel movements and also gives you the opportunity to not worry about your pooch during the middle of the day. If you're going to be gone for a lengthy period of time, you can consider putting a water bottle in the crate with him, but avoid the water dishes. Dishes can create a cold, wet mess that can quickly become uncomfortable to your little pooch.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.