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!

My Puppy Keeps Biting Me! What Do I Do?

You have a new puppy and he would rather chew on you than on his bone. What do you do?

First, lets look at why he’s being so rough. Puppies explore their world by using their mouths. It is normal for puppies to play with their litter mates and use their mouths, but when it carries over to you, this can lead to puppy problems.

When puppies are young, they learn how much pressure is ok to use when playing by the reactions of their mother and their litter mates. Playing puppies will bite ears, necks, paws, tails, anything they can. Then all of a sudden you hear, “iey, iey, ieeeyyy” and you know that someone has bitten too hard. The puppy who was bitten will then walk off and refuse to play for awhile.

The yelp tells the other puppy that it has gotten too rough, and since he’s too rough, playtime is over. Because dogs are social animals, this correction stops the behavior. By spending a few months with his litter mates, this puppy will learn what is good play and what is bad play.

So how does this work for me?
By using the same kind of actions, you can teach your puppy not to bite in the same way his litter mates do. When your puppy starts to get rough and bites down, let out a high pitched shriek (you want it to be loud enough that he stops in his tracks). Quickly give him a toy to chew on instead. If he is still being obnoxious, fold your arms and ignore the puppy for a few minutes, or get up and leave the room. This will tell him that if he can’t play nice, then you won’t play at all.

It is important to not play games with your puppy that entice him to bite you or become aggressive. These include tug-of-war, chase and tackle, or waving your hands in front of our puppy’s mouth.

If yelping and walking away doesn’t work, you can try another technique. Use the same method as above, yelp loudly and if he is still trying to bite, scruff him and give him a firm (not violent) shake and tell him, “no bite.” Eventually, you should just be able to use the command without scruffing him. If you puppy is still being aggressive, you may want to consult your veterinarian or your dog trainer to help you find a technique that will work for your puppy.

For more information on dog training, please visit Dog Care 411 on