Saturday, December 26, 2009

This Makes House Training A Snap

These four week old puppies are already getting used to a crate

If you want to make house training your puppy as easy as snapping your fingers, you need to use a crate. And not just any crate. The biggest mistake we see people making in terms of selecting a crate is that they go down to the big box store and buy a HUGE crate--one that will be big enough or even too large for their puppy when full grown.
The crate needs to be SMALL. Just big enough for the pup to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Then as the pup grows, replace that really small crate with another that is just a little bit bigger. Think of the size of the crate as a comparison to the size of a bed you would get for a human baby. We don't have human babies sleep in a king sized bed. The baby feels (and is actually) safer in a small bed such as a crib or play pen. But don't make the mistake of humanizing your puppy and trying to keep them in something like a play pen. Dogs need to feel safe by being inside something.

Yikes! "Isn't putting a puppy in such a small space cruel," we always get asked. Nope. Not at all. Dogs naturally den. In the wild, they seek out or dig a small, dark place for safety, to sleep and have pups. Just a couple of weeks ago, when our dog was getting ready to whelp pups, she kept clawing her way under a small twin bed we keep in the office for the dogs to lounge on. That is where she naturally felt safe. In such a small space she could barely get in and out of.

Using the dog's natural instinct to den gives you a great advantage in house training, making your life easier and to giving the dog what she needs. People make the mistake all the time of thinking of their dogs' needs in terms of human needs, which are not the same. Giving your dog what she needs will ensure successful training and make your dog feel much safer at the same time.

Another advantage of using a correctly sized small crate from the beginning is that it is easy to move the small crate and pup around with you in the house. Dogs are pack animals and they have a strong need to be with their pack. When I am raising a pup, she stays with me as much as possible for bonding, but she stays in her crate a great deal of the time. She is right there next to me as I work on the computer or tidy up the kitchen. I can talk to her and she can let me know if she needs to go outside, but at the same time she is contained in a small space that she won't soil.

Keep the pup on a schedule. You can either pick the pup up and carry her outside to eliminate, or you can move the crate to the outside door, opening up the crate and encouraging her to go out on her own. You should always give the dog plenty of outside time after she eats and drinks. Then, take her out every couple of hours or when she acts fussy.

If you will progress from smaller to larger crates for the first couple of months, and you stay very consistent about using the crates, you will find that your dog will become house trained effectively by about five months or so.

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