Alternatives to crates
If clients aren't going to crate their puppies as part of the housetraining program, they may want to confine them to one
area at first, like the kitchen, den or heated or air-conditioned sun porch. This may give the puppies a greater sense of
security when the clients are not home and minimize damage. They can leave a radio and a light on for the puppies. Clients
can expand areas the puppies have access to gradually—only when the puppies have not eliminated or destroyed anything in the
area they are confined in. Urge caution when clients confine puppies to bathrooms, where they have been known to drown in
toilets, or in kitchens if they can reach and turn on the stove accidentally.
Baby gates can help with this, and some companies make creative baby gates for homes with open floor plans. If the clients
will be gone for more than two to three hours, the puppies will have to urinate or defecate, so the clients will need to provide
the puppies with an area to do this, such as a litter box or newspaper. If the puppies do not use that area, they are not
ready to be left in the circumstances that the clients chose.
Any puppy that's going to be left alone needs to experience a puppy-proofed environment: no cupboards with chemicals or toxic
substances and no strings, ropes, slippers, magazines or mail the dog can shred or ingest, possibly causing an intestinal
obstruction. Just as for a crate, the dog should have a blanket, water, toys and a biscuit or two.
Dr. Overall, faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, has given hundreds of national and international presentations on behavioral
medicine. She is diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior (ACVB) and is board-certified by the Animal Behavior
Society (ABS) as an Applied Animal Behaviorist.