Potty training puppies: make it easy on yourself by using a crate
Dogs are great, but you can not keep an eye on them every minute of the day. You will only be able to sleep silently at night if you know your dog is sleeping peacefully instead of roaming around the house. With small puppies in particular, you will be interested in training your dog to use a box: a crate that gives him a safe haven and you with peace of mind.
A crate may sound a bit scary, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. The crate must be a safe place for your puppy to sleep, not a place used to punish him when he is misbehaving. The purpose is not to unlock your puppy, but to create a safe haven for him. If your puppy is picking up during the first nights of his new home, it’s because he’s not hot, not because he’s sleeping in a box.
The crate must be a safe place for your puppy to sleep.
Where do you put the bench?
Choose a custom-sized bench of your dog, or better: tailored to its mature size. If the bench is initially too large, reduce it by placing a box. Its nest is supposed to be cozy: give your puppy a mat, blanket or bench. Keep in mind that long-haired dogs get hot too hot, so be sure to leave a part of the floor so that your dog can lie on the cool metal. Put a bowl of fresh water and a bowl of dog breads in the bench.
Put the cage in a place where it doesn’t walk around, preferably where your puppy has a view on the living room, so he does not feel excluded. It’s important that your dog feels at home in his new place.
Advantages of a crate
Small puppies are not completely potty trained yet. Using a crate makes it easier to train them to relieve themselves in a specific spot and at a specific time. After all, your dog thinks the crate is his one and he will never land it. By putting him in the crate at specific times and then let him out for a potty break, your puppy will quickly learn where to relieve himself.
It’s also a way to protect your dog: puppies are very curious and have razor sharp teeth. If you don’t keep eye on them, they can chew on buses, swallow small items and throw on electrical wires. So save yourself and your little one a lot of misery by putting him in the crate when you are unable to keep an eye on him. This way you can be sure he is safe.
Young dogs require a lot of energy to grow. If they play too rough, it’s important to calm them down and let them rest for a bit. So after walking or playing, just put the puppy in the crate so he can take a nap. The crate is also useful when you have a lot of people or loud, rambunctious children visiting. At times like these, it’s important that your puppy is able to escape the commotion and seek refuge in his crate. Do not just shut up, just let your puppies come back when everything gets too much for him.
A crate also comes in handy when you have to transport your dog, for a trip to the seaside or a check-up at the veterinarians. Your dog will feel safe and the smaller boxes fit easily in a car.
Select a crate based on the size of your dog
Where to put the crate?
Select a crate based on the size of your dog, or even better: on the adult size of your dog. If the crate seems too big in the beginning, then make it smaller by simply putting a cardboard box inside. The should be cozy: give your puppy a rug, a blanket or a pillow in the crate. Long-haired dogs can easily get too hot, so for these dogs, leave the floor uncovered, allowing the dog to lie on the cool metal. Put a bowl of fresh water and a bowl of food in the crate.
Place the crate in a draft-free area, preferably somewhere where the puppy can see the living room so he does not feel excluded. It’s important that your dog feels at home in his new spot.
You are going to teach your puppy to sleep in the box. When he’s tired after playing, take him to the crate. Reward him every time with a bone or a dog treat. Leave the door open, but stand in front of it so the puppy stays in the crate. If he does come out, gently put him back in. Do not get angry. The puppy must feel like the crate is a nice place to be.
Stay in front of the crate until your puppy has finished his treat and falls asleep. If he starts whining, simply ignore him. In the end, he will fall asleep and you can close the door. This way the puppy learns he doesn’t get to come out of the crate whenever he wants.
After about an hour you pop up and let him out. The puppy will learn that he does not need to be afraid when left alone: you will always come to get him to eat and to go outside. If your puppy wakes up before going to him, let him out, but do not give him a reward or extra attention. And make sure you wake up a moment later.
A little tip: put a few dog treats in the back of the crate once in a while when your dog is not with you. This will encourage him to go into the crate by himself and realize it is a safe place. Crates are meant as a training tool for young dogs, but we know from experience that dogs often get attached to them and consider the crate to be their own safe haven. Of course you are under no obligation to get rid of the crate once your puppy is able to stand on his own four paws.
Though you might consider moving the crate into the hallway or utility room, somewhere where it’s not an eye sore to your interior. Place a basket in the original spot for your dog while you are home.