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House Breaking with Crate

The following article is one we recommend starting right when you take your pup home from our facility.  Starting out with a consistent plan makes training your new pup easy, fast and effective.  From experience, we know that a well trained dog is a happier dog.  So while some of the initial training requires that the dog must do things that (at the moment) are not what the dog wants to do, the big picture is much more important than the task at hand and in the long run this training will be best for the safety, happiness and wellbeing of both dog and owner.


The key to success here is straightforward; your puppy must be put on a rigid schedule and must be either in your presence or else in a crate, yard or dog pen at all times. Yes, this requires ten to sixteen weeks of extreme vigilance but you are setting your pup up for a lifetime of success.


It’s all about the groundwork.


Obtain a properly sized dog crate, which your puppy will eat and sleep in. The crate mimics the close comfort of a den and uses the canine’s innate dislike for eliminating where he sleeps and eats. This is why crate use is the most successful way to housebreak. Choose a plastic crate, which provides a more secure feeling than a cage-type enclosure.


Be sure it is tall enough to let the puppy stand but only long enough to allow her to turn around. It should not be deep enough to let her eliminate in the back and lie down in the front. In most cases, a puppy’s growth rate will require you to move to a larger crate at the four-month stage.

Placement of the crate is up to you; some find it convenient to keep it in their bedroom, while others, knowing the puppy will whine, place it outside of the bedroom. Just know that if you respond to the puppy every time she whines you will be training the puppy to whine for attention.


Next, set up a schedule. Your puppy needs to eliminate in the early morning, after every meal, after play or walks, whenever she gets excited, and right before bedtime. And, for at least a few weeks, you will probably need to let her out sometime in the very early morning before you would normally awaken. Don’t expect her to last more than four hours during the first month or two. The key is to gradually build up her ability to “hold it,” while teaching her that the home is never a place to eliminate.


Feed her in her crate to endear her to it. And commit to her sleeping there; as tempting as it is to respond to whining or crying, if you relent and take her into your bed, you may end up with an accident occurring while you are sleeping. A major benefit of crate training is that your dog will happily settle into a crate should crating be necessary for travel. Never allow your puppy to wander unsupervised in the home until she is thoroughly reliable. Also, be sure to remove all food and water after eight pm. And never leave food down for more than ten minutes. Called free feeding, this makes it difficult to predict when the puppy will need to go. By feeding on a schedule, you “synchronize” your puppy’s system to eliminate predictably.


Never hit or rebuke your puppy for accidents. If she has an accident in front of you, interrupt her, calmly saying “no, no no,” then bring to the preferred spot. Avoid cleaning up messes in her presence as it could teach her that playing with waste is okay. If you stick to the routine, your puppy should soon grasp that eliminating outdoors is the ticket.


The above article was quoted from Modern Dog Magazine.

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