Using a crate to train your puppy offers him a secure place in which to stay when you can't actively monitor his activities. Most dogs come to love their crates and view them as a private "dens" where they can get away from the world of humans. However, crate training a puppy while you're away from home, working at a full-time job, requires special considerations and a lot of patience. Until your puppy is at least six months old, don't expect him to stay in a crate for eight hours without having to go potty.
Choose the right size crate. Linda Colflesh, author of "Making Friends: Training Your Dog Positively," suggests using a crate approximately 4 inches taller than your dog's height at the top of his shoulders. He should be able to turn around and stretch out, but not run from end to end. If you buy an adult-size crate, block off a portion to make it temporarily smaller.
Place your puppy's crate in a small area with a washable floor. Since you won't be home to let him in and out of his crate, you must provide a small area where he can go potty if he has to. This is imperative for young dogs whose bladders are not yet mature and for those who are not yet sure what you expect of them.
Lay newspapers in one corner of the area and place his water bowl close to his crate. Dogs naturally try to keep from soiling their bed. Choose soft bedding for your dog's crate. The more comfortable you make it, the more he will enjoy spending time there.
Establish a routine before you go to work that will encourage your dog not to go potty in his restricted area. Feed your dog at least two hours before you go to work and walk him outdoors on a leash right before you leave. After eating, it's common for a dog to move his bowels within an hour or two. Allow your dog to have a water bowl by his crate while you're gone but don't feed him again until you return.
Put your puppy in his crate when you go, but leave the crate door open. Your dog must be allowed to go in and out freely until he is old enough to stay in his crate the entire time.
Clean up soiled newspapers when you arrive home, just after you take your puppy outdoors to potty. Do not replace the newspapers until you leave for work the next day. Check the bedding in your dog's crate and put in fresh bedding if he tracked urine or feces into the crate.
Begin closing the crate door when you consistently come home to find no potty messes on the newspaper. Now your dog is maturing, and he may be able to go for eight hours without soiling his bed. However, it is still important to take up his food two hours before you leave and take him for a walk.
Never use your dog's crate for punishment. To do so may instill fear or dislike of his crate.
Never leave your dog in a closed crate for longer than eight hours.
If you're crating your dog while you're gone to work, try not to crate him at other times. While you're home, allow him to accompany you as he chooses. He will go voluntarily to his crate when he tires.
Items You Will Need
- Small area with washable flooring
- Soft bedding
- Old newspapers
- Making Friends: Training Your Dog Positively; Linda Colflesh; 2004
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