Crate Training: The Life Long Benefit
A friend of mine called me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I’d puppy raise a crazy Golden Retriever named Sherlock. I said: YES PLEASE.
I’ve heard of baby fever, but never suffered from it. Puppy fever happens to me ALL THE TIME. Luckily, I know a lot of people that need help with puppies for a few months.
The hope is that one day Sherlock will be a diabetic alert dog. At about eighteen months he’ll be placed with a diabetic and alert the person if his or her sugars go too high or too low. I’m helping him to prepare for an important job and that is wonderful, but even more important is that puppies are CUTE.
When raising a service dog there are a lot of rules. One of the most important is that the dog must be crate trained. Honestly, I was very happy that my friend had Sherlock for a week and started the process because crate training involves a lot of yapping and howling.
What’s the process?
I’m the kind of person that rips the band aid off FAST, so that’s my approach to crate training. Night one, eight week old puppy goes in his crate at about ten. The crate is in the garage. I shut the garage door because howling/crying/whining has already begun. They usually cry for several hours, fall asleep, wake up and begin to cry again. At about three take the pup out for a potty break. Then it’s back in the crate until six.
The hysterical on and off howling usually lasts three nights. After that I bring the crate into my room and set it next to my bed. The puppy might wake up once for a potty break, but for the most part he’s quiet.
The crate should be big enough that the puppy can stand up and turn around without hitting the roof or sides. If it’s too big, the puppy will be more likely to pee. I have numerous crates so I start with a small one and work my way up as the puppy grows. I know most people only need one or two crates because they only have one or two dogs, so if that’s the case, buy something that will be big enough for your puppy once it’s fully grown. Then, fill it with empty cardboard boxes to make the space smaller for your new puppy. One crate for life=less money!
I recommend plastic crates. They’re easy to clean and last for years. Wire crates aren’t good for puppies because they don’t contain the dirt/urine/vomit that is inevitable and they rattle around in the car. Once the puppy is over a year old you can try a soft crate. They are wonderful because they’re light weight and easy to transport. Kinsey is great about her soft crate and never scratches her way out, but some dogs aren’t so compliant. Target has cheap soft crates so you can try them out on your dog. That way if he scratches out, it was only $30.
A puppy gets into everything. When your puppy is in a crate he can’t eat a sock and get a bowel obstruction.
As much as I love puppies, sometimes I need a break. I want to turn on Person of Interest and watch it without worrying that Sherlock snuck into my closet to chew up my Crocs. (Yes, I love my blue Crocs around the house!) So, into the crate he goes.
Crate training lets you set your dog up for potty training success. If he’s loose in the house during the night, you’re going to wake up to accidents. But, by using a crate he’ll hold it. Then as soon as you wake up, take him outside and congratulate him for doing his business on the grass.
If your puppy is in a crate in the car, he’s safer in case of a car accident.
Your car will stay cleaner if your dog is in a crate.
If you take your dog with you on a trip, a crate is a secure place to leave him in your hotel room.
Peace of Mind!
Once a dog is crate trained, they aren’t as anxious about being confined. Whether it’s in a dog run in the yard, or a room in my house, they’re more peaceful and less destructive once they’re adults. (I realize this isn’t true for every dog. Some may never be left in the house loose, they’re simply too destructive.)
So, I strongly urge you to crate train your dog! I realize that a few nights of howling is inconvenient, and a bit heart wrenching, but rushing your puppy to a vet because he ate coffee grounds from the trash while you were gone for a couple of hours running errands is devastating.
Bottom line, crate training will benefit your dog for life! Get to it! 🙂