You may have heard of crate training your dog, buy maybe you don’t really understand what it is or how to do it correctly.

Crate training is not the same thing as confining your dog in a crate. When you are trying to housetrain a puppy or dog, the crate enables you to set your dog our puppy up to be successful in housetraining, instead of setting them up to fail.

Dogs and puppies don’t like to soil the areas where they sleep or eat, so crating them for a time helps inhibit their tendency to urinate or defecate in their crate, thereby helping them learn to hold their business. It helps teach them to wait until they have an opportunity to do the business outside.

When you are at home, take your dog or puppy out of the crate and take them outside to potty. Generally speaking for every month a puppy is old, that is the number of hours they can hold their business. So if you have an 8 week old puppy, that puppy can hold it for approximately 2 hours (especially when awake). When you take your puppy out and they don’t potty, take the puppy back in, put it back in the crate and try again in about 15 minutes. When the potty potties, they get a standing ovation which helps them understand that what they did was a good thing.

Crate training is also useful when you are trying to teach behavior to your puppy such as quiet or no bite. Be sure to understand the crate is not to be viewed as punishment. If you puppy is really bitey and using the methods of saying ouch in a high pitched voice and leaving the room are not working, when the puppy bites simply and non-emotionally say NO, OFF and gently place the puppy in the crate for 2 minutes. That 2 minute time out breaks the cycle of the biting and then you can let the puppy out.

Placing the puppy in the crate for 2 minutes during a time the puppy is being very rowdy and chasing and exhibiting extremely high energy also breaks the cycle. However, if you puppy exhibits this uncontrollable high energy constantly, you need to re-address how you are managing his energy – WALKS, and as importantly what you are feeding your puppy. Low quality foods that contain a lot of cheap carbohydrates such as corn, turn to sugar in your puppy, increase serotonin and you have an out of control puppy.

Do not leave your puppy in a crate for hours on end. That is confinement, not crate training. A puppy should never be confined in a crate all day long while you are at work. If that is your circumstance, then hire a pet sitter to come over at least twice a day to take the puppy out and play with it a little. A puppy in a crate for 8-10 hours a day in not conducive to a well balanced, happy puppy.

To recap, crate training is not the same thing as confinement. The crate is used to aid in potty training, giving the puppy somewhere to go to be quiet and to sleep in at night so the puppy does not wander the house. Crate training is used to illicit good behavior from your puppy and to aid your puppy in being successful instead of setting your puppy up to fail.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, opportunity Barks!

Jim Burwell