When you first bring your new puppy home, it'll only take about an hour or so to realize that he needs house training right away. After all, a little puppy's bladder is only so big! A great method to consider for potty training your new little friend is crate training.
Crate training has its pros and cons, but it offers an affordable and far less stressful alternative to more traditional methods. Here are some helpful hints to get started:
Choosing The Crate
The crate should provide just enough room for your puppy to sleep, stand and make a complete turn comfortably, with minimal room to walk around. The reason for this is dogs usually will not potty where they sleep. If you allow for too much space, however, your puppy will quickly designate an area for pottying and then will sleep on the other side of the crate.
First, choose a crate based on the size your puppy. If your puppy is four months or older, consider a regular sized crate with an adjustable partition wall so you can make the puppy's area grow larger gradually as the puppy grows.
For small-sized puppies 1 1/2 to 4 months old, consider using a large bird cage instead of a crate. These tend to be less expensive than actual dog crates and will serve the purpose just fine until your puppy outgrows it. Bird cages usually have slide doors that you can easily secure with a tie band from supermarket bread packaging.
Don't worry about upsetting your puppy with small spaces. Puppies and even older dogs feel secure when in their own little space with a comfortable, warm bed. Your puppy will likely adopt the crate as his own little "home" within your home.
Tip: Don't feed your puppy inside the crate, but place his bowls beside the crate to make him feel at home.
Secondly, be careful about selecting a crate with open bars if you have an older male dog. Although puppies won't usually do this, older males may cock their leg and peepee through the bars. If you start training with a small puppy, this shouldn't become a problem.
Introducing The Crate To Your Puppy
Place your puppy in or around the crate but leave the door open for a while. Allow your puppy to enter and exit freely so he can get used to the idea. Place a comfortable blanket or thin pillow inside the crate along with a couple of dog toys or chew bones.
He should realize that it's not a permanently locked cage door. Once he seems comfortable in and around the crate, place him in the crate and lock the door. Exit the room for a few moments and then return to unlock the door and let him out again. Do this several times per hour to let him know that you're not abandoning him. This is important to reduce anxiety, which can certainly cause more potty accidents!
After a while, your puppy will realize that he will not be left in the crate forever. You're then ready to start the training.
There are no set techniques for potty training because every puppy is different. Some catch on quickly while others take weeks to realize you mean business. Be patient, and think ahead to the joy of knowing your dog has been properly trained. You'll thank yourself years down the road.
Even if you plan on placing your puppy outdoors in a fenced area, potty training for indoors is still a good idea. Training allows you to bond with your puppy and show him who's in control from an early age. It will also help with other forms of obedience training as the puppy grows older.
Be consistent. Choose your method and the words you will use to instruct and praise your puppy, and stick with your choices. Your entire family should be in tune with the method of training and the words used to teach your puppy.
Some command examples include "go potty," "use it," or "relieve." Choose a simple, one or two word command that's easy to understand. Also, choose a command for praising your puppy, and use an upbeat voice with a pat on the head for a job well done. You might say, "good boy," "good girl," or "great job!"
When To Potty
Set a schedule for eating and pottying for your puppy and stick to it. Puppies' bladders are small and can only hold for so long. If they have an idea of when you'll take them out, they'll try to hold it for as long as they can. Take your puppy outdoors within at least 10 minutes after every meal.
Also, take him out every hour if less than four months old and then gradually increase the time in between. Older dogs can hold longer, but should still remain on a set schedule when possible. If your puppy has an accident in the crate, don't make a big deal of it. Just take him out and clean it thoroughly to remove the scent so he won't get used to the idea.
Always return to the same spot in the yard while crate training. Your puppy will recognize the scent and become familiar with the act of pottying. Use your potty command before AND after he goes so he'll become familiar with what the word means.
More Crate Tidbits
The crate is not meant to keep your dog locked away and out of sight. Puppies and older dogs need plenty of interaction and exercise, especially when indoors all day. The crate can, however, be your puppy's favorite spot if you make it enjoyable for him. It can also protect him and your household items from harm if your puppy likes to chew.
Be sure to keep the crate away from wires, curtains, and other chewable items. You'd be surprised how far your puppy's tongue can reach!
Last but not least, allow your kids to participate in the training process. It will be a great experience for them, and teach them responsibility for the puppy right from the start. Puppies can be a bundle of joy or a huge hassle. With crate training, you can create a pleasant, stress free environment for yourself and your new found pet!