Crate training and housebreaking your labradoodle or goldendoodle puppy
The most common misconception about a dog crate is that it is a cruel form of caging a pet. This is completely false, and in fact a crate is a secure and safe sanctuary in the same manner as a wolf enjoys the comfort of a den for resting and eating. With the proper attitude both the dog and the owner will quickly learn to appreciate the convenience of a crate.
The crate cost is very economical when compared to the cost of replacing furniture, plants, carpet and other personal items that may be destroyed when a dog is allowed to roam a household unsupervised.
Next to the training collar and leash, the dog crate is the training tool most recommended by professional dog trainers, preventing unfavorable behaviors such as house soiling, destructive chewing, digging, unnecessary barking and howling can all be avoided. Since the dog’s habits will be much easier to regulate by using the dog crate, discipline for misbehavior will be less necessary which will allow a stronger dog and owner relationship.
You can begin to use the crate immediately when you bring your puppy home. Ideally, a puppy should be introduced to the crate at an early age. In fact, many reputable breeders will already begin the process of crate training before the puppy comes home, which will make the training much easier for both dog and new owner. A dog can be introduced to crate training at any age, however.
One of the most important uses for the crate is for housebreaking or potty training. A dog’s natural instinct is to keep the area in which he rests as clean as possible. Most dogs are very resistant to being near their own waste, and therefore will make an extra effort to control their own elimination when confined to a crate. By confining a puppy to its crate at certain times of the day and night, it learns to control the urge to empty its bladder or bowels until it’s allowed outside, where it is rewarded with praise for a job well done. With the owner encouraging elimination in the proper place immediately after a dog is released from the crate, the pet quickly learns when and where to “take care of business”. If and when errors happen, chastise the puppy mildly and immediately take it outside to an area it has used previously, to remind it about the only permissible place to go. Remember, a young puppy needs to eliminate often, so take it out as often as you can in the early days before it has developed a measure of control. Puppies must be taken out within an hour of each feeding, and every hour or two during the day at first. Gradually, with age, you can reduce the required outings to approximately four daily. If your puppy soils his crate, the problem may be anxiety during the first few days, or not taking the puppy out often enough to relieve himself. If the puppy persists in using the crate as an outhouse, your problem may be excessive space. In that case, you only need to make a partition for the crate interior to reduce space, and progressively move it back as the puppy grows.
Most behavior problems, such as destructive chewing, are due to the boredom of an unsupervised dog. If allowed to continue the behavior, it quickly becomes a habit which is difficult to change. By crating a dog during the owner’s short term absences, the dog is simply not able to misbehave. Instead, he will rest quietly in his crate.
A wire crate is recommended to allow the dog visibility of surroundings as well as for proper ventilation. Wire crates are easy to move and store and can be cleaned with soap and water.
When selecting a crate for a puppy, go ahead and get one that will fit the dog’s needs when he is at full size. The dog should be able to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lay down in the crate. Your pet should not feel cramped, but do not use a crate that is too big, as that will defeat the purpose of giving the dog the sense of having his own enclosed “den”.
The crate should be placed in an area that is easy to supervise. Since dogs are highly social animals the crate should be in an area of the household where the family spends most of their time. The crate should not be put in an isolated area. At night, the bedroom is an ideal place for a crate so that the dog can feel the security of being near his owner. Wherever the crate is placed, it is important that it not be in a draft or direct heat. Some dogs feel more secure when a towel or blanket is draped over the top and sides of the crate.
Within a short amount of time a dog will accept a crate as his own. The owner should be sensible when first introducing the dog to the crate, taking care to remove both collar and tags and making his first few experiences short in time and very pleasurable. Use praise while the dog is in the crate to assure him that this is a comfortable place to be. Gradually the amount of time the dog is left unsupervised in a crate can be extended. Within a few attempts over two or three days most dogs will enter the crate willingly and quietly settle down for a nap.
The age of the dog must be considered when crate training. Each individual dog varies but as a rule a puppy can control elimination through the night as early as two to three months of age. It is also important to regulate a puppy’s feeding schedule so that this can be taken into consideration as to when and how often he must be allowed to relieve himself. It is important to establish a timely routine so that the dog’s body functions can adjust to when he will be released from the crate. As a dog gets older the amount of time can be extended but should never exceed more than six to eight hours.
A dog can be fed in a crate, although the bowl should be removed as soon as the dog finishes eating so that it is not in his way. Once the puppy or dog no longer has a habit of chewing, a washable blanket or some other form of bedding can be put in the bottom of the crate for additional comfort.
It is important that the use of a crate not be abused. Every dog needs a certain amount of exercise and should be allowed the opportunity to socialize daily with his human family.
As in all forms of dog training, humane treatment is necessary when using a crate. A crate should never be overused nor should it be utilized as a form of punishment.