Just like a new parent needs a crib/playpen for their new baby – a new dog owner should provide a crate for their new pup. Crates are a place your pup can call his own – a place they can go and retreat when they want/need space and a haven for you to place them in for their own safety. Crates are an indispensable aid in housetraining and dealing with misbehavior. A crate can help to calm anxious or hyperactive pups and will help prevent your pup from chewing and destroying your house and possibly hurting himself while you are away. In addition, a crate can be convenient when you need to travel. Your pup will have his familiar bed handy and remain safe.
Choosing a Crate
There are both solid plastic airline and wire mesh crates available. If you will be traveling a lot the foldable wire mesh crates are the best. Buy a crate that will fit your adult dog – there should be enough room for your pup to get up and move around.
Introducing the Crate
If you introduce the crate when the pup is young, he should readily adjust to it. Puppies love people so put the crate in an area where you and your family will spend lots of time. Crates need to be perceived as a fun place your pup WANTS to go in. If the crate is placed in an isolated area your pup may revolt.
A rule of thumb for how many hours your pup can be confined is the number of months they are old plus one; i.e. a three month old pup should not be crated more than four hours. Each pup is different. Most pups can hold their needs by four months of age if they’re on a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Do not put papers in the cage. We do not want to encourage him to go there. If your pup messes on blankets in the crate, do not put any in with him.
Initially try and introduce the crate early in the day on a weekend and keep the door open to let him investigate the area. Throw him some treats in the crate, play fetch the ball in the crate, store his toys in there and let him go in and out at his own leisure. Feed him in the crate leaving the door open. If he initially hesitates – put the bowl near the crate door so he can reach in and get it.
Closing the Door
It is important to schedule crating after your pup has had a good amount of exercise and has eliminated as needed. Put your pup in there when he is tired and give him a treat and a toy, then praise him and shut the door. Try and provide him with a toy/bone that he can chew on and be stimulated for hours with. Leave the room for a few minutes. He will probably complain but give him a few minutes. NEVER reward his cries by letting him out (he will learn to continue crying if you do so). Once his crying has stopped – let him out.
The Noisy Pup
First try and ignore him (I know this is HARD!). Some pups will cry continuously for 15 minutes or so. If crying continues, a light correction may be needed. You can try to sneak up on the pup (without him seeing you) and slap the wall. This sudden loud noise will usually quiet him. You may need to repeat this several times. Another recommendation is to try a squirt from a water gun or shake a soda can full of coins. Do not speak, as you do not want the pup to associate the punishment with you. If all else fails – anti-barking devises such as the citronella spray collar may be needed. This is a very effective and humane method to control the problem barker.