CP - Crate Training

Crate training is a great way to start puppy’s new life in their new home.  A crate is a fantastic way of teaching the boundaries of the house and keeping them safe.  The crate isn’t limited to the house through, you can also use it in the car, visiting friends and family as well as the vet which provides a safe travelling area. Crate training is an additional tool that you can utilize for toilet training and one that many experts recommend. 

Here’s a collation of information we have gathered from various resources that hopefully will give you more of an overview of how a crate can be utilized.

Providing a safe place where puppy can go if they are feeling overwhelmed and need a rest.

Sometimes puppy just needs some time out especially in the initial stages when everyone is trying to shower them with love. Just leave the crate door open and let them come and go as they like. 

If you are needing to teach puppy boundaries around the house and using it as a discipline tool

This is handy as it can act as a time out area if puppy is showing signs of behaviour, you do not wish to encourage. DVK puppies are very social, so for them they love being around people so when you incorporate a time out space, which can be used with their crate, it separates them from that interaction they want. 

Assists with toilet training

Crate training is a great toilet training tool, as puppies generally will not soil their crate unless they absolutely need to go. To help with toilet training after puppy has a really big drink or has had a meal you can pop them in the crate for around 20 – 30 minutes and then take puppy straight outside and use your toilet command (ie Toilet, Potty, Wee wee) Be patient as this may not happen straight away but persist. Once puppy has gone to the toilet as you have asked them, ensure you encourage and reward them (Plenty of pats and a treat). After completing this a good number of times, puppy will start understanding that going to the toilet at the designated area is the right thing to do.

As a general rule, in the initial stages when puppy is between 2 – 4 months old they are unable to hold their bladder longer than 2 – 3 hours when they are in the crate so just keep this in mind if you are heading out. As puppy gets older and more trained, you will be able to lengthen the time you are able to be out of the house.

Sleeping of a night

Puppies are very adventurous, so if they are not put in a secure area of a night while you are asleep there is a very high possibility that puppy will get into things around your house that you didn’t even know were there. Puppy could find something to chew (That you may not approve of) or they could be going to the toilet in places you don’t want such as carpet or rugs. This will not only make you annoyed and frustrated however it is dangerous for puppy to not be supervised. You would have no control over what they may be eating or chewing which can be life threatening depending on the objects. With puppy being in their crate it allows you to have control and peace of mind that they are safe. 

How to introduce puppy to the crate?

Start the introduction of the crate during the day. A very easy way to get puppy used to the crate and surroundings is if they simply go over to explore then give them a treat, also put a treat inside the crate which encourages them to go inside the crate which starts to get them used to the area without need for force which can sometimes damage the association with the area. If puppy goes in the crate and settles on their own accord, ensure you use positive voice recognition or a treat to acknowledge the good behaviour.  At this exploring stage, don’t be tempted to close the door to the crate too quickly.  Let puppy go in and out a few times, using positive recognition and small training rewards each time.  Only once puppy is happy going in and out for treats or toys then close the door for a short period of time.

How long can I keep my puppy in the crate and what to do at night?

When starting to train initially, you do want to start with smaller periods of time to ensure for the most pleasant experience possible. Start with 5 minutes and lengthen it as puppy gets used to being in there. Also, by varying the times it makes it unpredictable for puppy as to when you are going to let puppy out therefore helps to eliminate scratching and winging.

Every dog is different, so we can never give a real indication of how long it will take for your puppy to become familiar however when they are doing the right thing ensure you are rewarding them for being calm and relaxed.

Rewarding positive behaviour is one of the most successful tools. So, when you are starting to lengthen the time for puppy in their crate, if they remain calm, ensure you are using positive voice recognition “good boy/good girl” and a treat to reward them for keeping calm. Do not reward for behaviour you do not want to encourage such as winging and crying.  Before opening the door to let them out make sure you give them the command to sit, and this again starts their good manners training.

 

As our puppies have very small bladders some people think they need to wake puppy up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet.

Good news! you don’t……

If puppy has settled in the crate and gone to sleep if he/she wakes up after a few hours and starts to whinge then this is a good indication puppy needs to go. Take them to the designated toilet area and be patient allowing them to relieve themselves, reward them and pop them straight back in their crate to hopefully fall back asleep. If puppy sleeps through the night, then you are winning, no need to wake them. To reduce the needs for puppy to go to the toilet throughout the night you can take their water off them after dinner and reintroduce this in the morning. 

Interactive play just before bedtime is also a good way to relax puppy so that they are not anxious when you pop them in the crate.  The best scenario is if you can get puppy to go into the crate on their own and not force them in, it makes for a better experience for puppy.

What type and size crate should I get?

When considering the size, the main thing you need to be aware of is that your dog/puppy can turn around, lay down and stand up in it. You do not want it to be too small however it is a little larger than puppy that is fine as they will grow quite quickly.

The size of crates that we (DVK) sell for puppies are the following and we think these are suitable for the majority of our breeds (Golden retrievers may need and upgraded size within in initial 1 – 2 months as they grow).

  • Diamond Valley recommended Crate sizes that you can purchase in our showroom on collection.
  • Metal Crate
    H – 57cm / W – 76cm / D – 53cm
  • Material Crate
    H – 51cm / W – 68.5cm / D – 53cm

Metal crates are the most ideal if you are planning to leave it in the house as they are nice and strong. The material crates are more beneficial for traveling in the car as they are easy to fold up and store away. If you are planning to use a material crate for home crate training, ensure you puppy is happy in it as if your puppy Is not confident, they can damage the material and get out which can be threatening for them if you’re not home and they eat or ingest something they are not supposed to. 

Can I feed my puppy in their crate?

It is entirely up to you. This is a way sometimes to make them more comfortable in the space if they are feeling a little uneasy. You can either keep the crate closed or open it just comes down to preference and how your puppy feels. If you are closing the crate door once they finish eating just make sure you let puppy out when they are quiet, so you do not reward the behaviour or letting them out when they are winging or wanting attention.  At night however all food and water should be removed which will aid toilet training if they can’t drink or eat through the twilight hours.

What should I NOT do or what should I be aware of when crate training?

Ensure you do not leave puppy in the crate too long. This can start to associate the crate with a very lonely area and puppy will end up feeling extremely anxious and start to refuse to use it. This is not the purpose of this area. Leaving puppy in the crate for hours on end as well as of a night can end up doing damage to their muscle development and conformation, which is the last thing, we want for any of our puppies.

What to do if my puppy is whining?

Remember that you do not want to reward behaviour that is not acceptable. If this is happening which is very common, in the initial training stages best thing to do is ignore it. If puppy has settled for a period of time at night and start whining it may be an indication, they need to relieve themselves. Take them outside to go to the toilet however try to not interact socially with them as it is not play time. Then take them back into the crate to settle. Sometimes puppies like a darker space to feel a little secure, so a blanket over the crate making it a little den, and it also seems to help to settle them. Don’t forget to reward when they are settled to reinforce the good behaviour.