When I was a child and growing up, I had never heard of keeping a puppy or a dog in a crate. When I came across it I thought it was inhumane and was only used as a punishment.
So, when we had our puppy, Oona, we asked “What is the purpose of crate training a puppy?” Read on and we will explain what we found out.
What is the purpose of crate training a puppy? A crate is used as a place of safety and security for your puppy or dog. This is a place where they can be managed if the appropriate training methods are used. The benefits of using the crate include averting destructive behavior, assisting with house training, and providing the puppy with their own location to go and not be disturbed.
What we did not realise was that a crate could replace a den, that most dogs would instinctively relate to. So, in the main most dogs could easily be trained to use a crate.
The preferred method of getting your puppy/dog to use a crate would be to use techniques that resolve around using positive reinforcement. Then they are more likely to see the crate as a place they would enjoy being in and a place of safety and security.
Once we had found out the answer to our first question related to crate training, we had a few more. Read on and we will answer these, you probably have the same questions.
Is it Important to Crate Train Your Puppy?
If you are looking to keep your puppy safe and secure, then it is important to crate train your puppy. Crate training your puppy means that they can have a “place of their own”, where they can crash out and have some peace away from other family members.
Also, if you need to do something around the house, for example do some cleaning upstairs, you can leave the puppy safely in the crate.
Other benefits of crate training a puppy are that it can learn bladder and bowl control, as they will tend not to soil where they sleep.
However, you should not create your puppy for longer than 2-3 hours, the time depends on the age of the puppy, otherwise they will get distressed and have an accident in the crate which will be counterproductive with regards house training them.
Also, in a crate the puppy can teeth in its own area, without taking it out on articles around the house, such as your best furniture and you.
How Old Should You Start Crate Training a Puppy?
As you would not typically be removing a puppy from its mother and siblings before 8 weeks of age, then it would be about this time that you might consider crate training.
Up to 8 weeks old the puppy will need to learn all it can regard to being a dog which it will learn from its mother and its littermates. The things that it will learn are: canine communication, bite inhibition, pack order, play, how to accept discipline and so much more.
How Long Does Crate Training a Puppy Take?
Crate training your puppy can take a matter of days, to several weeks. The time will depend on your puppy and the time you will be able to afford for the crate training. The correct crate training methods should reduce the time it will take.
How Long Can You Leave an 8 Week Old Puppy in a Crate?
As a rule of thumb, you should be able to leave a puppy in a crate for an hour for every month they are old, plus an hour. So, if the puppy is 8 weeks old, this is 2 months, so they can be left for 2 hours, plus the extra 1 hour.
However, you will not be able just to get them home and then just put them in the crate and expect them to stay there without any distress. The puppy will need to be trained, with positive reinforcement, how to stay in the crate. This will consist of getting the puppy to stay in the crate for a short period , in the beginning, then building this time up.
Should I Crate My Puppy at Night?
If you consider that a night is 7 hours long, then based on the rule of thumb that the puppy can be left in a crate for an hour for every month, plus an hour, then the puppy will need to be 6 months old before it can be left all night in its crate.
Until this point, then you will need to let the puppy out of its crate, say after the 2–3 hours, to go to the toilet. This will need to be something that you will need to judge, based on your puppy bred and personality.
Obviously smaller dog breeds will have smaller bladders, so the time is likely to be less, compared to larger breeds.
For our puppy Oona, a Labrador retriever, when she was 8 weeks old, we used to come down in the night after 2.5 hours. We would take her out into the garden to do her business. I remember this well, as it was during the Winter and there was snow on the ground.
We did not make a fuss of her and made it obvious that we were only there to take her outside so she could go to the toilet.
When Should You Stop Crate Training?
This all depends on what type of dog you have, the personality of the dog and of course your schedule and how much time you can commit to crate training.
So, for example, you might have a dog that is pretty laid back and is happy to lie around for a long time, such as a docile Mastiff. This could be compared to a Jack Russell that is energetic and will go rushing to the door every time the postman arrives to deliver the mail.
Regarding the Mastiff you will probably after a period not need it to be in a crate while you, for example, are away from home, say at work. Whereas, with the Jack Russell you might need to keep it crated on all occasions while you are away from home.
In either case when you are away from home, you are best to have a dog sitter come and visit your dog, so they can take it for a short walk and give it a chance to go to the toilet outside.
With our dog Oona, we have her in a room that is closed off in the day, but she has her crate in the room, which she can sleep in, or even on the top of, which she has taken to doing. When we are at work, we have a dog sitter, that will take her for a short walk and feed her lunch. She seems to be well contented with this arrangement.
We hope that the research that we have done around the question “What is the Purpose of Crate Training a Puppy?” will help you decide if crate training is suitable for you and your puppy. It has provided a positive result in our lives.
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