House Training  / Crate Training


                                                          (It’s not a “doggie jail!)   

Potty Training Is Possible! Paperback –
by Vicki Smith (Author) 
Available On Amazon and from Pets Mart

Crate training your puppy is a very practical thing to do, and should come quite naturally.  Dogs, when they were wild creatures, were “denning” animals, spending much of their time in small, dark, sheltered areas where they felt safe and secure.  This instinct is still there in our dogs today, and using this instinct can be very beneficial in house-training puppies, avoiding destructive behavior in dogs of all ages, and eliminating conflicts between your dog and other pets (or children!) in the household.

this is my routine for house training if you continue with this program your house training will go smoothly and much quicker. I know many people are intimidated by house training but in actuality it is very simple as long as you keep it black and white for your puppy. 
It is also extremely important that you start this immediately when you get home. This is an adjustment. So there's no better way than to start the adjustment. In the way that you wanted to begin with you don't want to have your puppy for a week and then have to work and focus on retraining your puppy. 
1. Anytime you are not actively holding your puppy playing with your puppy or paying attention to your puppy your puppy needs to be in its crate. This is very important the more accidents your puppy has in the house while it is not being supervised will make it take much longer for your puppy to understand that your home is an extension of its crate it's Den and they do not want to potty in their Den. 
2. Every time your puppy wakes up it is going to need to go Pee. That means if he sleeping on your lap and you need to get up you take your puppy and put it outside you do not put your puppy on the floor or it will go potty on the floor. 
3. Anytime! and I mean anytime! you take your puppy outside and they do not potty do not bring your puppy back in the house and put it on the floor there is 100% guarantee your puppy well then wander around your house and go to the bathroom!!!
You pick your puppy up and you put it back in its crate let it think about it. Then try again. 
The reward for going potty outside is to be allowed to run around the house and enjoy the company of its family. This consistency is super important to help the puppy understand that it is never allowed to go potty in the house yes accidents will happen but if you do not insist that they go potty outside they will firmly establish the fact in their mind that if they don't go potty outside they can still come in and go potty inside. NOT OKAY!!!!

Size?:  How big should your crate be?  The basic rule of thumb is that it should be large enough for the dog to stand up, lie down, stretch out and turn around.  Another part of the “denning” instinct is that dogs resist soiling their den area, and keeping the space small and contained is important.  If the crate is large enough that the dog can mentally “subdivide” the space into sleeping and potty areas, then you lose that advantage.  If you only want to buy one crate that will still fit the puppy when it is full grown, you can block off the back portion of the crate with boxes or use a divider to make his available space the appropriate size.

What type?:  The two main types of crates are the plastic “Vari-Kennel” type, and the wire crate.  The Vari-Kennel type has solid plastic sides and a wire door and ventilation openings.  The wire ones are just that… all wire on the top and all sides, with a metal tray for the floor.  There are benefits and drawbacks for each.  Some dogs prefer the enclosed shelter of the Vari-Kennel, and it is the sort you could also use for airplane transport if necessary.  Others like the airy, open feel of the wire.  Wire crates can also be covered with a cage cover or blanket when it is chilly, or to provide a more enclosed den.

How long?:  The most common question people have is how long a puppy can be comfortably and realistically crated.  The guideline to keep in mind is one hour for each month of age, plus one.  For example, a four month old puppy should only be crated for a maximum of 5 hours.  Regardless, if your four month old puppy is consistently having accidents in the crate when you leave him there for five hours, then he is not ready to be crated that long, and you need to adjust his schedule accordingly.  Keep in mind also that there is an upper limit here!  You would not expect to crate any 13 month old dog for 14 hours!  No dog should be crated more than 8-9 hours on a regular basis, and you should be sure the dog gets lots of vigorous exercise both before and after crating for that long a period.

Training Tips:  Start using the crate from the very first day!  After a vigorous play time, when the puppy is tired and has recently pottied, place him in the crate with his blanket and a small treat and toy (we recommend a Kong toy, with a treat inside), the happy command, “Kennel!” and leave him there for a while.  Yes, at first he may bark or whine, just like a baby will fuss while in his crib or playpen.  But the rule is, when the puppy is in the crate, pretend he is in another country!  Don’t let him out while he is barking.  Only let him out when he has been quiet for a few minutes.  The crate should be in a secluded part of a “family” area.  For example, if you always hang out in the living room, and there is an adjacent dining room or quiet corner where the puppy can hear you and occasionally see you, but not be right in the midst of the noise and conversation, that might be a good spot.  Keep crate time short at first, and avoid using it as a “penalty box” as much as possible.  Being angry with the puppy, yelling, then putting him in the crate will give him a negative association with it.  Also, be aware that a dog who has severe thunderstorm phobia should NOT be crated during a storm.  Their “fight or flight” instinct is in conflict with their “my crate is my den” instinct, and some dogs will injure themselves trying to get out of the crate.  

The crate door can be left open when puppy isn’t in it, and you might find that when he is tired, he will actually seek out his “den.”  It really should be his sanctuary.  In fact, any children in the family should be taught that they absolutely do not ever approach the crate when the puppy is in it.  That way, when he needs a “break,” he knows he has a safe, private place to go and will be less likely to become stressed by small children.  Be sure the puppy spends time in the crate both when you are home and when you are out, so that he doesn’t learn “when I go in the crate, they are leaving, and I will be all alone!”

At night, you might move the crate to a bedroom, or have a second crate there, at least at first.  Some puppies benefit initially from being near you during the night when they are still very small.  But there is no reason that his usual crate location cannot be his designated sleeping spot as well.

House-training puppies is a task that requires very careful attention.  When you are home with the puppy, keep him in the same room with you at all times, just as you would a newly-walking toddler.  Some owners even keep a puppy attached by a tether to their waist!  Watch his behavior and habits, and learn what his “I have to go potty” signals are.  Some pups begin to sniff and circle, or suddenly get very quiet when just a moment ago they were happily playing.  Take the puppy out and praise him lavishly when he does his thing.  If he has an accident in the house, unless you actually catch him “in the act” it does no good to punish him.  He can’t make the connection.  But if you do catch him, a very loud, harsh NO, followed by picking him up and taking him outside should make your point.  Again, if he then potties outside, lavish praise reinforces that he just did a Very Good Thing!  If you can’t keep the puppy in the room with you for a while, if you are cooking dinner or scrubbing the floor or trying to hang a shelf, that is when the crate will come in handy, preventing the puppy from “getting away with” pottying in the house without you right there to correct him.  After the puppy has been in the crate for any length of time, and likely needs to empty his bowels or bladder, that is an ideal time to take him outside, let him go, and praise him for pottying outside.

Food or Water?:  Should you put food and water in the crate when you are crating your dog for the day?  It is probably best not to leave food in there all day.  Feed the dog in the crate if you like (this is actually a great way to teach him this crate is “home!”), but remove the bowl and any leftover food before crating the dog for an extended period of time to avoid his developing the need for a bowel movement while he is restricted to the cage.  If you are going to be gone more than just a little while, you might leave some water, either in a “lick bottle” attached to the cage, or a bowl that hangs on the wire of the crate sides or door.  Leave enough that the dog will have refreshment and hydration, but not so much he develops a painfully full bladder!  You might even fill the water container with ice cubes, which will melt slowly.

A crate-trained dog has his own “sanctuary” in the house.  You have a safe place to put him or her when you have guests or a repairman in the house, or in the event of an emergency (a severe storm or tornado).  If you ever have to travel, a crate-trained dog is much more at ease being shipped by air and is much safer in a vehicle.  At some point in your pet’s life, odds are that he or she will spend some time at the veterinarian’s office, either for routine spay or neuter surgery, or for other health care needs, and you can be sure he will have to be housed in a crate or kennel while he is there.  A crate-trained dog is much more comfortable and less stressed than a dog who has never been in a crate before.  Crate training your puppy has so many benefits, and all it takes is a little commitment to the training early on.  Even an older dog can quickly adapt to a crate, so it is never too late to start!

Pups immediately need to go upon waking & after eating (2 meals a day, last meal by 7-8pm), as well as regularly all day long, with several close together first thing in the morning. 

For the first week, pick the puppy directly up out of the kennel upon waking & carry immediately to the "potty area". They won't make it, if you try to walk them out. Be patient, the pup will play with your shoe & wander around first. As your pup starts to go potty, use a phrase like "Do you have to go?" or "Go potty". Use the same phrase consistently each time the pup goes, and you will be able to cue your pup later to go in unfamiliar places. Just as the pup is finishes & BEFORE he/she walks away, feed him a bit of cheese, cooked hambuger or chicken (not a dog biscuit, it does not have enough "flavor burst" to "ring bells" in your pups head). At first the pup will wonder how that happened! But by the 4th or 5th time, the lights go on & the pup will be anxious to make that happen again. As you feed the treat (a small bit is plenty), be sure to use your "baby voice", telling your pup how good they are! Eventually, the treats are withdrawn & only the voice remains.

Always keep an eye on the pup when he is out of the kennel. If you have trouble staying focused on the pup, put a leash on him to keep him with you, even in the house. When you see the pup circling with his nose down, it is a good idea to take him out immediately before an accident occurs.

Your job is to make it as easy as possible for the pup to do it right, so you can reward it. Every hour or even 1/2 hour for the first few days helps the process along. I keep a little baggie of treats in the refrigerator door ready to go, as we head out the door.

If the pup has an accident & you don't catch them in the act, just ignore it & clean it up, resolving to take the pup out more often. Punishing a pup after they have taken a step away may make you feel better, but they will have no idea what went wrong. However, if you DO catch the pup in the act (not as it walks away, but IN THE ACT), this is your golden opportunity! Make as much noise as possible immediately, yelling very loudly, "NO, NO, NO!!!! BAD DOG!!!!" Continue yelling as you scoop up the pup and take the pup to the potty area. As you set the pup down in the potty area, change your voice to a soothing, friendly tone, asking "Do you have to go?" or "Go potty". The point is to SCARE the pup as they have an accident, as this builds a memory in the pup's mind that they NEVER want to do that again!!

Copyright 2011:  Ballyhara.   All rights reserved.
763-232-0001 | [email protected]
Cambridge, MN 55008