Housebreaking and Crating

    

For more Dog Behavior Problem Solving and Dog Training tips visit my website at www.poochproblems.com


Housebreaking and Crating Your Dog


Crate Training

Why Crate Training

1.      To give the dog his special place - his den. Dogs are denning animals and you will usually find a dog sleeping in a far away corner or behind a piece of furniture in an effort to simulate a den. They will often take a favorite toy or bone to their ‘hidaway’. Why not give them their own ‘den’. Leave an open crate in a quiet but not isolated place. A corner of the family room is usually a nice spot, or, if you have a large kitchen, a quiet corner of the kitchen.

Dogs are denning animals and you will usually find a dog sleeping in a far away corner or behind a piece of furniture in an effort to simulate a den. They will often take a favorite toy or bone to their ‘hidaway’. Why not give them their own ‘den’. Leave an open crate in a quiet but not isolated place. A corner of the family room is usually a nice spot, or, if you have a large kitchen, a quiet corner of the kitchen.

2.      To give you a place to keep the dog when you are not home. Nobody enjoys coming home to a ‘doggie disaster area'.  We don’t enjoy having to clean up the mess and the dog soon learns to fear our homecoming. Think about it. You come home to a ‘mess’ and begin yelling at and scolding the dog and the dog begins to associate your coming home with being yelled at. Not good for anyone, right. Using a crate will eliminate the ‘tear up the house’ routine engaged in by some dogs to alleviate boredom. They actually learn to rest quietly while waiting for your return.

Nobody enjoys coming home to a ‘doggie disaster area'.  We don’t enjoy having to clean up the mess and the dog soon learns to fear our homecoming. Think about it. You come home to a ‘mess’ and begin yelling at and scolding the dog and the dog begins to associate your coming home with being yelled at. Not good for anyone, right. Using a crate will eliminate the ‘tear up the house’ routine engaged in by some dogs to alleviate boredom. They actually learn to rest quietly while waiting for your return.

3.      To use as a housebreaking aid. Dogs will not generally eliminate in their sleeping place. Crating a dog when you cannot watch him will sometimes help in housebreaking. This works well when you are away, or unable to watch the dog and also overnight. Don’t use it as an excuse to not take the dog out when he has to go. See the section on ‘housebreaking’.

Dogs will not generally eliminate in their sleeping place. Crating a dog when you cannot watch him will sometimes help in housebreaking. This works well when you are away, or unable to watch the dog and also overnight. Don’t use it as an excuse to not take the dog out when he has to go. See the section on ‘housebreaking’.

How to get the dog used to the crate.

Begin by feeding the dog in his crate. Give all treats to the dog in his crate. Put his toys in his crate. Don’t close the door of the crate until he goes in the crate on his own and lies down frequently. When you do begin to close the door, do it for short periods of time (5 - 10 minutes to begin, working up to longer times) and give the dog a treat or toy while he’s in the crate. Be sure to praise him for being a good dog when you let him out. Remember, if he fusses, do not let him out while fussing. Wait for a quiet moment and reward him for being quiet and let him out at that time. If you let him out while he fusses, he will learn to bark and fuss to get out. You want to teach him to be quiet while in the crate.

Rules of Crating

1.      Never use the crate as a form of punishment.

2.      Don’t leave the dog in a crate for long periods of time. Three to four hours is maximum without a potty break.

3.      If you crate while you are at work, try to come home for lunch to let the dog out or have a neighbor come in to let the dog our for a break during the day. It’s unrealistic to expect the dog to remain in his crate for what could be a 10 hour day. Even if your dog can ‘hold it’ that long, it’s not healthy for a dog to go that long without relieving himself - could YOU.

Housebreaking Made Easy

Getting a Routine

1.      Feeding Schedule.  The best way to feed your new puppy or dog is on a fixed feeding schedule rather than ‘free feeding’. Leave the food down for about 30 minutes and then remove anything uneaten until the next feeding time. A young puppy of about 8 - 14 weeks old might need to be fed three to four time a day.   A young dog of 14 weeks to about 6 months will probably eat about two to three times a day.   From about 6 months to a year he should eat only twice a day and after a year you can feed him once a day as long as he keeps up his proper weight. Most dogs will let you know when they don’t need the extra feedings. My dogs would usually skip the fourth feeding when they were ready for three feedings a day and would eventually skip the third feeding when they were ready for two feedings a day. This schedule is not ‘cast in concrete’, every dog is different so it’s best to let the dog determine the schedule as they get older.

2.      Potty Schedule.   Most puppies follow a similar schedule. They generally have to relieve themselves about every two hours for the first 3 months. After that they can go maybe three hours and gradually increase the time as they get older. You can usually tell by how long the puppy goes at night before waking you to go out. They will usually whine or cry or begin getting fidgety when they need to go out. Besides the general schedule there are factors that influence other times your puppy needs to go out:

a. First thing in the morning - before anything else gets done.

b. Upon waking up from a nap

c. Two hours after eating

d. Last thing before bedtime - the later the better

How I Do It

1.      Confine, Confine, Confine.  Do not leave your puppy unattended or loose in the house for even a minute.  If you cannot watch him constantly, crate or confine him. Here’s how I do it. I attach a ‘chain’ leash to the leg of one of the chairs or couch in our family room - the room frequented by family members. I also attach a ‘chain’ leash to the leg by the headboard of our bed. In both places I have a large throw rug. The puppy stays on one of the leashes during the day and night. We are in the family room or going through the family room constantly. We all take time to sit with the puppy and play with him and his toys. He usually falls asleep on the carpet when tired and when he wakes up - outside*. During other times he will usually go to the end of the leash and whine or cry, indicating a need to go out. He comes in the kitchen to be fed in his crate and I will close the crate while he eats. Back on the leash after dinner. About two hours later he‘ll be ready to go out again.  This routine goes on until he is regularly letting us know he needs to go outside. Training time varies with each dog. Once you start letting him loose for short periods of time, be sure to keep close watch for signs that he has to go out. Learn what those signs are for your dog. It’s good not to give your pup free fun of the house until he is completely housebroken.  NOTE: I never withheld water from my puppies and never found that to be a problem.  Just keep a good routine.

*      It is important to remember to use the same door every time you take the puppy outside to eliminate. Also, be sure to let your puppy ‘walk’ to the door on leash every time. This way he will learn the route to take when he has to go. It is also a good idea to select the spot you want the puppy to use. Be sure to praise him lavishly when he goes to the proper spot. You can use a cue word like “hurry up” when he begins to relieve himself to make potty time “on call” when he gets older. ALSO, be prepared to stay outside with him until he does everything he has to do. Don’t rush him and don’t just put him out by himself - GO OUT WITH HIM. You need to be absolutly sure that he has done what he went out to do.  If you're not with him, how can you be sure.  Play with him a little bit while you’re outside with him. Sometimes they might urinate immediately but need more time to move their bowels. They usually ‘poop’ for every meal they eat, more or less. Be sure to give them the time they need.

For more Dog Behavior Problem Solving and Dog Training tips visit my website at www.poochproblems.com


Problems - you can contact me for more problem solving at:

penelope@puppytrain.com