Crate Training a Puppy

I am writing about this today because before now, I didn’t realize how frustrating it can be to crate train a puppy. We got a new puppy Friday, a pug, who is very cute and we believe, very smart. Too smart for his own good!

Before he came to us, he spent most of his time in a kennel, which I am thinking is/will impede his progress with potty training because he is use to going in his own space. We will see how it goes.

If you are wanting to crate train your new puppy it is best to start the day you bring him home. You will need a crate that is the size of your dog. He should be able to turn around and lay down and that’s about it. Keeping his area small will discourage him from pottying in the open space and then lying in the other half. If you want, put a towel or small blanket in there for him, and be sure that it is washable in case he has an accident.

When you first bring the puppy home, place the crate in the same room with you and allow him to explore it. To encourage him to go in it, you can tempt him with a tasty treat. Allow him to smell the treat and then toss it in the crate while saying your command, ours is “Crate.” Allow him to go in, eat the treat and come out if he wishes. Once you have him regularly going in and out of the crate, you can try having him stay in the crate for a short period of time. Allow him to go in, close the door, wait a few seconds then open the door and give him a treat. You can do this, each time increasing the time between entering the crate and his treat. Here you can add a safe toy, one that doesn’t have small parts or come apart easily, such as a Kong. They are made of hard rubber and are pretty much indestructible, not to mention, you can fill it with peanut butter and keep him happy for hours!

Once he is comfortable with the crate, you can start feeding him in the crate. Place a small bowl of food just outside the door and allow him to eat. Each time move the bowl farther back in the cage until you reach the back. Once you reach the back, you can close the door. Keep the door closed while puppy is eating then let him out. Each time you can extend the amount of time you wait between when puppy is finished eating and when he gets out of the crate. You want to do this to build positive associations with the crate, do not use the crate as a form of punishment.

Once he is happily eating his meals in the crate, you can start getting him use to you leaving for a bit while he is in there. Put him in the crate and sit quietly by it for 5-10 minutes. Then get up and go into another room for a few minutes, then return and sit by the crate for 5-10 minutes. After doing so, let him out of the crate and praise him. Repeat this process a few times a day until you can successfully leave the room for 30 minutes. Once he is used to you leaving for that amount of time, you can start leaving for a longer period of time running errands, etc.

Now the most important thing is to keep puppy on a routine. Feed him at the same times during the day and this will greatly help your potty training. Most puppies will have to go out within 30 minutes of eating so be sure that you take him out after he has eaten. You will also want to take him out first thing in the morning and after naps and play time.

Puppies younger than 6 months will need to go out about every 3-4 hours because they have limited bladder control. So be sure to plan your day around letting puppy out to go potty. When you take puppy out of the crate, carry him to his potty spot and stand there until he goes. Once he does, praise him lavishly and give him a treat.

Crating Duration Guidelines

9-10 Weeks Approx. 30-60 minutes
11-14 Weeks Approx. 1-3 hours
15-16 Weeks Approx. 3-4 hours
17 + Weeks Approx. 4+ (6 hours maximum

While you are potty training it is a good idea to keep puppy on a leash so you can supervise him at all times. If he begins sniffing around like he is looking for a place to go potty, scoop him up and take him to his potty spot. If you wait for awhile and he doesn’t go, return to the house and try again in 10-15 minutes.

If your puppy does have an accident, punishing him after the fact will do nothing but confuse him. He won’t even know what he has done wrong. If you catch him in the act, scoop him up and take him to his potty spot.

Do you have any tips or tricks for puppy potty training? Let us know!

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