Crate Training

previous-litters-element330Crate training is one of the most important things you can do for your new dog. Crate training serves many purposes. It gives your pet a private, quiet place to go when he/she needs some downtime. It gives you a way to control an exuberant dog when you don’t have time to enact other training strategies. It helps your dog have better habits, and contributes to a regular schedule. And, perhaps most importantly, it is an invaluable tool in house training your pet.

Crate Training Your New Golden Puppy

Crate training is not difficult because dogs are natural den animals, and they feel safer when they have an enclosed area for sleeping or resting. People who don’t give their dog a crate often comment that their dogs seek out crate-like spaces. They might try to sleep under your desk while you are working, or rest under a dining room chair. Dogs want and need the security of a den, and a crate is a den custom made for dogs.

I recommend wire crates. A crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but not so large that he/she could use one side as a bathroom and the other side as a bedroom. For a small puppy, put a large stuffed animal in the crate to artificially reduce the size, until your puppy is large enough to use the whole space. That way, you won’t have to purchase one crate for the puppy and another for the adult-sized dog.

When you first bring your pet home, your goal is to make the first interactions with the crate positive. Put the crate where you plan to keep it, keeping in mind that until your dog is house trained, he/she will probably sleep there at night, and that dogs like to know where you are. If not within view of your bed, it should at least be in a warm, comfortable place nearby, within hearing range of you. Put a Sherpa pad, soft blanket and some treats in the crate and leave the door open. Bring your new pet into the room that the crate is in and let him/her sniff it out for himself/herself.

The first night, or first few nights, in the crate can be trying for everyone including your new puppy. Just remember that your new dog is adjusting to a whole new environment, and that can be stressful and a little scary. New human babies cry a lot, too, but luckily, puppies adjust and mature much faster than human babies!! Just keep reassuring your puppy without getting too emotional about it, which will only increase his/her stress.

During the day, use the crate whenever you can’t directly supervise your puppy, until he/she is reliably and completely house trained. Pretty soon, your puppy will probably go in there on his own, just because he likes his/her soft, comfy, treat-filled little spot.

Helpful tips

  • Make your puppy’s crate enticing. Always put a treat or two and a toy in the crate. I recommend Kong toys filled with peanut butter
  • Never use the crate as punishment
  • Bring the crate when you travel so your pet always has a familiar place to go
  • Be consistent. The schedule should be the same when the family is home on Sunday as it is when everyone is at work and at school on a Tuesday.
  • Cover the crate in a thin sheet be sure there are at least 5-10 inches uncovered at the bottom for good air circulation.
  • Have a fan for white noise and air movement.
  • It is important that your puppy has had adequate time outside to potty and run her energy out before going into the crate. That way you know if she protests that there is no reason to remove her from the crate.

House training

The first training priority for most new dog owners is house training. This is definitely job number one for any dog living with humans. Puppies don’t come to you understanding that you care one way or another where they relieve themselves. But obviously you do care, so the whole point of house training is to communicate to your puppy where and when you would prefer that he/she “do his/her business.” Your puppy does not want to do things to make you angry or stain your carpet, but when a dog has to go, a dog has to go. Therefore, the key to this process is to reward your dog when he does what you want, and to keep him from ever making a mistake.

Supervision is very important in this process. Young puppies do certain things when they are getting ready to relieve themselves. Typically, they begin to sniff the ground a lot while moving constantly, sometimes in a circle, looking for a good spot.

Until your puppy is well trained, go outside with him/her. This not only keeps him/her company, but allows you to praise him immediately when he relieves himself in the right spot.

The most effective house training is a combination of crate training and schedule training. And remember consistency is the key to success.

Example Schedule

5:30am           Potty, run off lead, play

6am                 Breakfast

8am-11 am     Sleep in crate

11am                Potty, run, play

1pm-4pm       Sleep in crate

4:30pm           Dinner

8pm                Pick-up water for the night; only offer if your puppy has been exercised

11-11:30         Last potty, run off lead, then sleep in the crate for the night

Training Recommendations 

I am a big believer in positive reinforcement. Your puppy wants to please you, it is only a matter of creating clear communication between you and your puppy. When your puppy is with her siblings they love to play. They will bite, chew, jump, snarl, and role all over each other. They only know how to play with puppies, we have to teach them how to appropriately play with adults and especially children. I have found using instant correction followed by a positive is best. For example; your puppy is excited and jumps on you. Now the puppy is not being mean, she is excited, wants to play and get your attention. I would your “Nasty noise” for instant correction, say the command “sit”, put him in the sitting position, and then overly praise him. What your doing is creating clear communication and expectations. The puppy wants your attention; you want the puppy to sit.

  • Discourage running and chasing in the house.
  • When loose in the house take her out to potty every 20 minutes, out the same door to the same spot in the yard. Repetition is key.
  • She should be supervised at all times when in the house or she will get into trouble.
  • Water should be available at all times except when she’s in the crate.
  • No tug-a-war, it encourages biting.
  • Ensure your puppy has plenty of time for free play off of the leash.
  • They love the water! A small kiddy pool is always a favorite, but be sure to clean and sanitize it each day.
  • Practice sit, down, rollover, wait, and leash walking multiple times per day.
  • The best way to get leash walking in your schedule on a busy day is to take your puppy out to potty off lead. After she has pottied, leash walk her back to the house.
  • If your wanting to change her food the ideal time is when she is 6 months old. It important with the vaccines and change of environment that the food stay the same. 
  • “Trade it” is a great trust exercise. Take away quickly what is in her mouth, trade it for a chew toy, then praise her for chewing on the correct toy.
  • Make her sit and wait for her food, to enter the front or back door, when someone walks in the front door, and when people want to pet her.

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