Crate Train and Manage your Puppy

You just got home from work and walk through the door. You can see the first piddle and pile of poop in the hallway. Toilet-paper is all over the place, a trashbag halfway dragged through the living room, your underwear chewed up and a plant knocked over. Your brand new couch has a hole chewed into the armrest and your blinds are torn down. Your 4 month old puppy comes running from the bedroom and jumps all over you, scratching your arms with those razor sharp needle claws. He’s excited to see you and does not understand why all of a sudden you get angry and push his nose into the poop and pee.

You go online and ask for help, some suggest to crate train your puppy but you don’t feel comfortable to put your puppy up for 6+ hours. Other suggest a dog walker, but your puppy doesn’t walk very well on a leash and you don’t like when a stranger comes into your house anyways.

So you get some hard bones and antlers, those are durable and should occupy your puppy throughout the day. You also lock your puppy into the bathroom since there isn’t much he could destroy. When you get home everything seems to be fine and it’s easy to clean up the pee and poop since the bathroom has tile floors. You can see the scratch marks on the door and the corner has been chewed on. Three days later you get a noise complaint and there now is a small hole in the door.

You don’t crate your puppy over night either. He’s allowed to sleep in bed with you, but he’s restless, pacing all over the place, whining and is trying to get your attention by constantly nudging and pawing you. But again, crating is for lazy people. You don’t want to do that. You don’t want to be one of “those” people that just lock a puppy up.

When you sit on the couch he’s still biting your hands and legs. You push him away and yelp “Ouch”, that’s supposed to help with the biting.

A month later there is a hole in your bathroom door and your puppy has chewed up the couch, your brand new shoes, through the TV cable, gone through the trash, and probably eaten half a bag of coffee beans and chocolate that was on the counter. Your comforter is shredded, your pillow has been peed on and your puppy is standing in front of you trying to throw up. You have to call the vet and if they can’t pump the stomach you are likely looking at a couple thousand dollars in surgery.

These are the type of stories that we get to hear on a daily basis. People have tried to crate their puppy but given up after the first two nights because the puppy wouldn’t stop crying. Instead of waiting the puppy out, or trying a different approach they gave up on the crate and give the puppy too much freedom which almost always ends up with a destroyed house and/or vet visit and in some cases even death due to the puppy having ingested something toxic.

Instead of giving into the puppy here are some tips to make crate training a little easier:

  • You need the right size crate. Your crate shouldn’t be too small or too big. Your puppy should be comfortable enough to stand up, turn around and lay comfortably down. If you have a large crate, use the divider.
  • Keep the crate in the main living area. It’s much easier to get a puppy used to the crate if they can still see and hear us. Now, the pup is still going to cry in the beginning but it shouldn’t last as long as it would if the pup was entire secluded from the family.
  • Feed your puppy in the crate. I do things a little different. For the first week my puppies don’t get normal meals. Instead I ration the meals and everytime they come back from a potty break or after I’ve worked with them, I toss a handfull of food into the crate. That immensely raises the value of the crate.
  • Crate your puppy in the car whenever you take them along for a ride.  Your puppy learns that there is value in the crate. The easiest way to get a puppy used to the crate is to crate them whenever you take them on car rides.
  • Play Crate Games from Susan Garrett with your puppy. You can buy her DVD online and it’s an invaluable training tool to not only build value in the crate but also patience and impulse control in your puppy.

Don’t feel bad to manage your puppy. Whether your are home or not doesn’t matter.  If your puppy is out of control, super bitey and overall obnoxious, take them out of the situation. Put them up. Utilize the crate to your advantage. If your puppy is just 10-12 weeks old, pushing them away from you isn’t going to help the situation, they only come back harder. So don’t feel bad to utilize the crate and manage the puppy. It not only protects your household good but also the puppy. Most puppies can’t handle the amount of freedom you are giving them. They are not adult dogs. If they are bored, they’ll have a party and destroy your entire house and themselves in the process. If you have two puppies of the same age, it’s going to be an even harder time to keep control over the situation. Your puppies will feed off of each other and have a party. They won’t pay much attention to you since they have each other. So you have to crate train and sometimes rotate them in and out of the crate to build a relationship with them. They will also need individual experiences so you won’t have dogs that later suffer from litter mate syndrome.