Crate Training and Benefits
Crate training your pet can be beneficial for several reasons: In the case of an emergency your pet may need to be transported or kept in a crate and if it is already used to being in a crate, it will not experience panic or anxiety from being confined and may even feel more secure inside a crate. Such cases could include a situation in which you may be separated from your pet (accident, illness, disaster, etc), a time when your pet may be ill and needs to be confined for it's own comfort and safety.
Crate training is also an easy way to house train your pet because it is usually a natural tendency for them not to use the bathroom in their sleeping area if they can avoid it and will try to hold it.
HOUSE TRAINING USING THE CRATE METHOD
1. CLEAN BEDDING...I like to have a supply of the thinner bath towels (3 or 4) so that they can be replaced and washed easily if the puppy has an accident on it's bedding. It's important to make sure that bedding is kept free from the smell of urine, so it will learn to like a clean bed and try to 'hold it'.
2. REGULAR POTTY BREAKS..Puppy needs to be closely supervised while not inside it's crate. It should be taken out to it's 'potty area' 15 to 30 minutes after it eats and then every 2 hours after that. It might take 15 or 20 minutes before it finally goes, but keep giving the command “Go potty”, and when it does go, give it lots of enthusiastic praise,”Good girl! You went potty. Good Girl!” then let her run with you back to the house. If you should see it sniffing the floor and walking around in circles, that is an indication that it is getting ready to POOP. Quickly, but calmly pick up your puppy and take it outside to the 'potty area' and wait patiently until it goes. Don't forget to give it lots of praise, pats and hugs.
3. FEEDING...I feed my puppy as much as it wants in the morning and a snack in the afternoon about 3:00 but NO FOOD AFTER 4:00 in the afternoon. That will give it time to pass all waste by bedtime. TAKE AWAY THE WATER ABOUT 6:00 P.M. To help prevent bed-wetting.
4. BEDTIME...You will want your baby to have the same sleep schedule at night as you have, so be sure to take it out just before your bed time. Give the puppy a treat, a toy and maybe a rawhide chew to entertain itself with during the night because dogs don't normally sleep all night long like people do, but they can learn to be quiet so that you can sleep. To begin with, cover the crate with one of your shirts or something with your smell on it so the puppy will feel that you're near, or use a towel so that it can't see outside the crate. The puppy might cry at first but just ignore it. It should quiet down within 30 minutes or so. If it continues to cry, you might have to put the crate in another room and close the door so that you are able to sleep. If you go to bed around 10 PM, for the first few nights you might have to get up about 2:00 or 3:00 AM to take it out to go to the potty area. Be patient and give it 15-20 minutes to go if you need to. Each night make it wait 5, 10 or 15 minutes longer each time before taking it out. (The intensity of it's cry will let you know how desperate it has to go.) Within 2 weeks, it should be letting you sleep until 6AM or so.
5. MORNING...When you take your baby out of it's crate first thing in the morning, CARRY IT OUT TO THE 'POTTY AREA'. Don't let it run out on it's own or it will most likely stop and pee on the floor before it gets outside. Remember to watch it closely for indications that it needs to go, and to take it out every 2 hours. Immediately clean up any accidents with a lemon or vinegar scented solution so that baby won't think it's okay to go on the floor; and complain all the while you're cleaning, “that's baaad, you don't go potty on the floor, that's baaad.” so baby will know you're not happy about it.
6. CRATE TIME...If you have to leave your baby unattended for a SHORT (1-2 hours) period of time, put it into it's crate WITH A TREAT and a toy. Be sure to take it out to the potty area as soon as you return. These short unsupervised stays in the crate is good training so that 'baby' doesn't develop separation anxiety as it will soon realize that you will come back. If baby gets a treat each time you put it into the crate, it will go in willingly and the crate will become it's 'private space'. My dog actually likes it's crate.
THE POTTY AREA
I have prepared a “potty area” in my yard so that my babies will go to the same area every time and that saves sooo much time and frustration from having to look for and clean up 'land mines' all over the lawn. It also makes your yard cleaner and more usable...and it makes mowing so much more enjoyable
For my “potty area”, I choose an area about 3 feet wide and 6 to 9 feet long along a fence. I put bricks or landscape edging around the edges to hold the kitty litter in place and so that 'baby' will know the boundaries of the area. You can make it bigger if you want. You can use the non-clumping kitty litter, pea gravel or the wood chips that you can buy for pet cages. I like the kitty litter best because it's easy to rake up the poops. A kitty litter scoop would be fine for just one or two dogs. I bought a tiny little leaf rake from Wal-Mart garden department and one of the long-handled dust pans and that works good for me as I have 5 dogs. The area needs to be cleaned often so that it doesn't build up. If too much poop accumulates, the baby will go to a cleaner place and start pooping all over the yard.