A new puppy or dog can benefit greatly from crate training. We recommend an airport approved crate. A wire crate does not create the same environment as an airplane approved crate, which is more enclosed. A young dog can hurt its teeth on a wire crate. A dog that is used to a wire crate may freak out once placed into an enclosed crate. The enclosed crates create more of a cave environment. We recommend using an airplane approved crate, in the event you have to fly your dog will already feel comfortable. Crate training goes hand in hand with housebreaking. We highly recommend if you are working on housebreaking you work on crate training as soon as you bring your new dog home.

1.     Make sure the crate is not too large. A young puppy will naturally not want to go to the bathroom in its own area. They naturally want to keep their own area clean (see our housebreaking article for more information). We want to make sure their area stays clean. If they relieve themselves, we want to clean it immediately. A kennel that is too large, will give them the option of sleeping on one side and using the bathroom on the other. There are dividers available for certain kennel styles. While the puppy is young you can use a divider and once they are older, remove it to give them more room.

2.     Schedule: Make sure your puppy is on a schedule. Believe it or not, dogs begin to learn what our routine is. They will begin to realize when they go out to use the bathroom. You want to schedule your puppy’s feeding time around when they will go out. Plan into your schedule (if work permits), to let your puppy outside every 4-5hours. Plan to wake up twice at night to let your puppy out to use the bathroom. A puppy needs to relieve itself 30 minutes after eating.

3.     Remember the three-foot rule when outside the kennel. You will also see this mentioned in our housebreaking article. Do not allow your young puppy out of your sight when out of the kennel for play and cuddle time. Remember after they play they need to go out. The kennel is to help your puppy develop his own area, which is the kennel. The kennel is the only place he needs to worry about versus dogs that are not kennel trained they have to worry about the entire house. This is his only place to have to be careful not to have accidents in. We want to use his natural instincts of keeping his sleeping area clean to prevent accidents and learn to potty outside. Always take to the same spot each and every time outside to go to the bathroom. You are in control outside of the kennel and do not allow your puppy to have the opportunity to have an accident in the house, when outside of its kennel.

4.     Prevents Bad Habits: A kennel helps a puppy in the beginning to not develop any bad habits. Puppies given free reign in the house and allowed to do whatever they want unsupervised are prone to develop bad habits. The first time puppy chews on a table leg or on the couch and gets self-satisfaction/self-reward from it, they want to repeat that negative behavior again, over and over again. When a young dog at five months develops a bad habit, they are more likely to repeat that bad habit at a year and two years of age. Kennel training from the beginning and supervision can prevent these bad habits from even developing. With supervision you can teach your puppy which toys are puppy approved toys to play with vs items you do not want to end up in their mouths.

5.     Prevents Anxiety: We have all watched the 2yr old child that controls the household. That moment when they stop and look around and aren’t sure what to do with themselves end up doing something they are not supposed to. A child that has no direction or guidance develops anxiety because they are not sure what is expected of them and is ok and not ok. A puppy is in this way similar to a toddler. When a puppy is not sure where it falls within your pack, is not given any direction or guidance, they are forced to figure things out for themselves. This leads a puppy into developing anxiety and often where separation anxiety comes from. You will watch them walk around and that moment hit them, where they do not know what to do with themselves. They sit down and begin to whine. A dog is always in training, whether it is being trained or not. In this instance the dog’s lack of training by default causes it to develop anxiety. This anxiety is not even necessarily poor genetics, but a poor environment it was brought up into. The crate gives the puppy one area it has to worry about controlling, versus an entire house. The puppy feels secure and begins to learn where he falls into his pack, when he is on a schedule and when he is shown which toys are approved for him to play with. If you puppy begins to play with something not approved, immediately reroute him onto a toy he is allowed to have.

6.     What goes into the crate? We recommend you feed your puppy outside of the crate in order to prevent a mess. Do not shut them inside the crate with a food bowl that can be spilt. We want to maintain a clean environment. Have a set area inside your house where they will be fed and have water there for them as well. In the beginning when you are introducing them to the crate, put some yummy treats inside to lure him in. These should be treats he will want to eat immediately and will not sit in his kennel. Each and every time you tell him to go into his crate, put treats inside. Use a command such as “crate” and show him the treat and he should willingly walk right in. We want him to willingly go into his crate. We want him to have a good experience and feel secure. It is not recommended to place a blanket or dog bed into your kennel. There is the risk it can be torn up by your puppy and parts of it he could be at risk of choking on them. There are good teething bones that can be given to your pet and frozen kong filled with peanut butter. It is recommended to never leave your dog alone with a toy or bone or kong, as they have the potential to choke.

7.     Where in the home do we place the kennel? We recommend the kennel be placed based on your household. You want to be fair to your dog. If you have other dogs that are already housebroken and your puppy is in the crate and watching you play with them, that is an unfair situation. We do not want the puppy in say the living room in his kennel and another dog is out and he gets to watch that dog play with you. That can build resentment towards that dog, in the young puppy. In that situation it is better to have the puppy in a quiet room, where he can see a huge amount of activity that could excite him and make him want to engage. If you have kids running in and out of the room, this would also be considered unfair as your puppy will naturally want to play with them. If you have a low key household the puppy ‘s kennel can be placed in an area where he can watch you. Otherwise you will want to seek out a nice quiet place, that will not over stimulate him.

8.     Your puppy should be in his kennel at night. Depending on the breed of the dog if you start him off in your bed and he is a dominant breed, there may come a time when he challenges you. Allowing a dog to sleep in your bed, that is a dominant breed can cause the dog to become possesses of your bed. A perfect example is you get up in the morning to use the bathroom and go back to get in bed and your dog growls at you. This depends on the breed of the dog and whether they are more of an alpha dominant breed. By training your puppy at a young age, it will sleep in the crate, you are showing your puppy that you are the leader and where he falls in your pack. You are also preventing the opportunity for him to jump down while you are sleeping and having an accident on the floor or even in your bed! Remember prevention is keeping you a step ahead in training.

9.     Have not only a potty schedule, but an exercise schedule. We do not want to over exercise a young puppy, it can affect the development of their joints (ask your vet about age appropriate exercise). Also ask your vet about bloat. You do not want to exercise an hour prior to feeding and you want to wait at least an hour after exercise to feed your dog or they could develop bloat. You want to keep your puppy on an exercise plan. This could consist of taking them for walks, playing with toys or playing with their ball. It is recommended with puppies that they play with soft toys. Hard toys can affect the development of their adult teeth and can cause adult teeth coming in, to not come in correctly. We want to be very careful of puppy’s mouth and of not causing any trauma with hard toys.

10.  Lastly, keep the kennel positive. Always put them in with a treat, give them the command, whether it is “crate” or another command. After you shut the door, give them another treat. The kennel is a tool, and we want to use it properly. Never allow your puppy to sit in a dirty kennel. It is your responsibility to keep it sanitized. We recommend Odoban as a safe cleaner. Never use bleach or other harmful chemicals on your dog. Stay consistent. The best time to kennel in the beginning is when you are headed out the door to run a short errand. The puppy may whine in the beginning and if you are out and about, you will not be tempted to give in and let them out. The controlled environment that you create during your kennel and housebreaking routine, will build an early foundation for their future training.


Constance Baker

KnightWatch-K9 Pet Training

Copyright KnightWatch-K9 2019