Providing your puppy or dog with an indoor kennel crate can satisfy many dogs’ need for a den-like enclosure. Besides being an effective housebreaking tool (because it takes advantage of the dog’s natural reluctance to soil its sleeping place), it can also help to reduce separation anxiety, to prevent destructive behavior (such as chewing furniture), to keep a puppy away from potentially dangerous household items (i.e., poisons, electrical wires, etc.), and to serve as a mobile indoor dog house which can be moved from room to room whenever necessary.
Most dogs which have been introduced to the kennel crate while still young grow up to prefer their crate to rest in or “hang-out” in. Therefore a crate (or any other area of confinement) should NEVER be used for the purpose of punishment.
Furnishing Your Puppy’s Crate
Toys and Treats: Place your puppy’s favorite toys and dog treats at the far end opposite the door opening. These toys may include the “Tuffy”, “Billy”, “Kong”, “Nylabone” or a ball. Toys and bails should always be inedible and large enough to prevent their being swallowed. Any fragmented toys should be removed to prevent choking and internal obstruction. You may also place a sterilized marrow bone filled with cheese or dog treats in the crate. DO NOT GIVE YOUR PUP RAWHIDE!!!
Bedding: Place a towel or blanket inside the crate to create a soft, comfortable bed for the puppy. If the puppy chews the towel, remove it to prevent the pup from swallowing or choking on the pieces. Although most puppies prefer lying on soft bedding, some may prefer to rest on a hard, flat surface, and may push the towel to one end of the crate to avoid it. If the puppy urinates on the towel, remove bedding until the pup no longer eliminates in the crate.
Location of Crate: Whenever possible, place the crate near or next to you when you are home. This will encourage the pup to go inside it without his feeling lonely or isolated when you go out. A central room in the apartment (i.e.: living room or kitchen) or a large hallway near the entrance is a good place to crate your puppy.
Introducing the Crate to Your Puppy
In order that your puppy associate his/her kennel crate with comfort, security and enjoyment, please follow these guidelines:
A Note About Crating Puppies
Puppies under 4 months of age have little bladder or sphincter control. Puppies under 3 months have even less. Very young puppies under 9 weeks should not be crated, as they need to eliminate very frequently (usually 8-12 times or more daily).
Be certain that your puppy has fully eliminated shortly before being crated. Be sure that the crate you are using is not too large to discourage your pup from eliminating in it. Rarely does a pup or dog eliminate in the crate if it is properly sized and the dog is an appropriate age to be crated a given amount of time. If your pup/dog continues to eliminate in the crate, the following may be the causes:
Accidents In The Crate
If your puppy messes in his crate while you are out, do not punish him upon your return. Simply wash out the crate using a pet odor neutralizer (such as Nature’s Miracle, Nilodor, or Outright). Do not use ammonia-based products, as their odor resembles urine and may draw your dog back to urinate in the same spot again.
Crating Duration Guidelines:
9-10 Weeks: Approx. 60 minutes – 90 minutes
11-14 Weeks: Approx. 1-3 hours
15-16 Weeks: Approx. 3-4 hours
17 + Weeks: Approx. 4+ (6 hours maximum)
*NOTE: Except for overnight, puppies should NOT be crated for more than 6 hours at a time.
The Crate As Punishment
NEVER use the crate as a form of punishment or reprimand for your puppy or dog. This simply causes the dog to fear and resent the crate. If correctly introduced to his crate, your puppy should be happy to go into his crate at any time. You may, however, use the crate as a brief time-out for your puppy as a way of discouraging nipping or excessive rowdiness.
When Not To Use A Crate
The Cost of Not Using a Crate
The real cost, however, is your dog’s safety and your peace of mind.