Many years ago when I got one of my dogs, someone suggested using a crate for potty training. I thought that was the most horrendous and cruel thing. Why would I want to confine my dog when he could be with me? He should be able to have the run of the house while I’m gone. I mean, why not?
Several years later I got married and my husband and I decided to get a puppy. We lived in an apartment at the time and we were very concerned with our new pup having accidents in our home while we were away at work. It was then that I did some research and found that crates weren’t that bad if used correctly. I proceeded to crate train our pup and the next two dogs we got after moving into our house. After successfully housebreaking them, we decided to remove their crates to see how they would do while we were away. We were astonished when we arrived home, to find each of them laying in the exact spot that their crates had been. They were perfect little angels. It was almost like they missed their crates!
After that experience I swear by crate training. It is important to first understand that crates should NEVER be used as punishment. They should not be used as a babysitter where your dog stays hours at a time. They should be a safe place that your dog loves to be in. I use crates for 2 main reasons:
2 Reasons for Using Crates
- Housebreaking/Potty Training
- A safe place if there will be many people in the house or if I’m leaving the house for more than an hour. I never crate for more than 3 hours at a time and usually it’s no more than a couple of hours.
Choosing the correct crate is just as important as the training itself. When selecting a crate, pick one that allows your dog to stand up completely, turn around, and be comfortable. If you are crate training a puppy, you can purchase a crate that has a divider. Use the divider while he is small and as he grows you can remove the divider to make a regular sized crate. If you give him too much room, he will eliminate in the crate if not potty trained.
Start by encouraging your dog to approach the crate. Use his favorite treat or toy and toss it in the crate allowing him to go in on his own. Never force your dog to go in the crate. This will create a negative experience from the beginning and your training will be unsuccessful.
Let him come back out of the crate and toss another treat or toy inside, again allowing him to go in on his own, leaving the door open.
After he has gone and in an out several times, continue tossing a treat or toy inside and begin closing the crate door and opening a little at a time. Allow your dog to come out if he chooses. You want your dog to know that he is free to come out.
As he gets more comfortable, close the door completely. Make sure to have a safe chew toy, some food and water inside of the crate.
Work your way up to longer periods very gradually beginning at 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes and so on. You will be able to tell what your dog can tolerate.
If you are potty training, work your way up to 30 minutes or so crate time, then take your dog outside immediately to eliminate. Give him play time when he comes back in, then have him go back in his crate for another 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat the process reducing the amount of crate time each time. Your goal is to eliminate the crate. The amount of time you leave your dog in the crate and the frequency you take your dog outside will vary depending on his age. For instance, young puppies don’t have complete control over elimination while older ones have more control. For this reason, it is important to have a lot of patience and be very consistent.
NEVER, EVER Punish Your Dog for Having an Accident in the House! I can assure you that your dog DOES NOT potty in the house out of revenge! If your dog is eliminating in the house, there is either a medical or behavioral problem such as anxiety or stress.
As with any training, consistency is the key. It won’t take long before your dog understands that the potty is outside and not in the house.
*NOTE: If your dog is unresponsive to these techniques or you don’t feel comfortable implementing them, contact a trainer who is familiar with behavior modification in dogs. Do NOT attempt to do anything that will jeopardize your safety.
If you have any questions about Crate or Potty Training Your Dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Columbia County, GA area.