Canine housetraining, Part 2: Managing developmental issues with puppy crating - DVM
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Canine housetraining, Part 2: Managing developmental issues with puppy crating
Make sure clients know the ins and outs of correct crate training


Learning to love the crate

Crates should always be placed in family areas, not in the damp basement or the garage. The puppy must learn to love going into the crate. Feeding puppies in the crate with the door both open and closed may facilitate enthusiastic crate use. Once the puppy routinely uses the crate for rest or eating without coercion or distress, they can be left in the crate for short periods if provisioned with a toy, a blanket and something to chew (e.g., a biscuit, a big sterilized bone that has been stuffed with peanut butter).

At first, clients should stay home to ensure the puppy can't get into trouble. When the puppy is in the crate, it should reinforce the concept of quiet time for everyone. Such practices may provide the clients with the ability to give the dog a safe place to relax and calm down any time it is driving them nuts or they don't have the patience to work with the puppy.

Puppies are just like babies and need their own quiet time, too. During short (two to five minutes to start with) sessions, accommodate the puppy with the crate. Clients can stay quietly in the room with the puppy, but they shouldn't energetically interact with it. The puppy is capable of amusing itself. As the puppy becomes more accustomed to the crate, extend the period of time that it's in it and go to other areas of the house.

Before any puppy is released from a crate, the client should ask it to sit and praise it when it does so. Clients can encourage calm behaviors when they release the puppy from the crate, ask it to sit again and calmly reward it. If clients are calm and nonfussy, they can teach these same behaviors to their dogs. If clients desire an enthusiastic interaction, it should occur after the puppy has calmed down from being released from the crate. Entries to and exits from the crate should be neutral in order to not link any unintended behaviors with crate use.

Crates aren't for every dog

If a dog panics, becomes distressed, chews at the bars, destroys the crate, routinely vomits, urinates or defecates or damages its teeth, toes or nails, that dog should not be crated. People often try a bigger or different crate, but these almost never make a difference once the dog is distressed. Repeatedly crating such a dog will worsen any anxiety the dog is experiencing and may play a role in creating a panicky condition in the dog.

Alternatively, shy puppies may hide in a crate. If clients notice that they hardly ever see the dog because it's always in the crate, they should ask why this is the case. If the dog is older and this is a changed behavior, clients need to consider what changed in the household to encourage that dog to hide. Hiding may be a rational or irrational choice, but clients must monitor the dog to understand why it is hiding.

Keeping crates and puppies safe and clean

If the crate is soiled, use hot water and nonirritating soap or baking soda and vinegar and rinse well and dry. Clients should use odor neutralizers, let them sit for a bit, rinse well and dry again. Crates should be placed in well-lit areas, but not those that will get the heat of the afternoon sun—the puppy could easily overheat and die. Clients can put timers on the lights so the puppy isn't left alone in the dark. Radios and TVs can be left on for auditory company and to mask scary street noises.

Clients should never leave anything around the puppy's neck that can tangle and hang on any part of the cage or anything in it, like a loose buckle or choker collar. The puppy could strangle and die.

Young (8-week-old) puppies need to eliminate at least every hour (more if they're eating, playing or just waking up), and they'll need an area they can start to use for this. If the crate is small, an older puppy will be unlikely to soil it. However, no puppy can be expected to last eight to 10 hours without urinating or defecating. Please note: A dog sitter or doggie daycare is better than a crate if puppies must be left for longer than four hours.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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