Crate Training Schedule
Of all the questions/concerns I receive, this is probably the most popular one. "How do I house train?".
Some people may think it's cruel to "crate" a puppy, but professionals say it is the easiest and most natural way to potty train a pup. Dogs, whether domestic or wild, will naturally find a den or safe area to sleep. In the wild, the mother dog keeps the den clean until the pups are old enough to venture outside on their own to poop or pee. Puppies learn from their mother that they shouldn't soil their sleeping area. Domestic dogs will display similar behavior. While still in the whelping box, the mother dog will clean up after her pups. As the puppies grow older, they will crawl away from their sleeping area to an area they choose as a "potty" place, and they will eliminate there. Like their wild counterparts, domestic puppies are innately predisposed to not soil the area where they sleep.
To be successful, a good crate-training program uses positive reinforcement. The crate should be a comfortable and inviting place for the puppy. To accomplish this, the crate can be lined with a soft towel or padding. Also, the pup should want to enter the crate. Luring is the fastest way to associate the crate with being a good place to go. To lure the puppy into the crate, use small bits of treats such as pieces of a hotdog. When the puppy goes into the crate to get the treat and explore the new area, leave the door open to let it come out as it wishes. Continue to use this process until the puppy enters the crate on its own for the treat. Be sure to praise the puppy gently while it is in the crate and associate a word or phrase for going in the crate. Phrases such as "kennel up" or "go to your room" work nicely. Use the association word or phrase as you are putting the treat into the crate and the puppy is following it in. Repeat this procedure several times to get your puppy accustomed to going into its crate.
The amount of time the puppy spends in the crate is extremely important. Because puppies have poor bladder control, just like a newborn baby, they should not spend any more that 4-5 hours in the crate at a time, with the exception of sleeping in the crate during the night. Below is the crate-training schedule I reccomend to those who want to use this friendly method of potty training:
8:00 AM- Take the puppy out of its crate and outside to potty. It is important that you remain with the puppy. If you go inside, the pup might be more concerned with following you instead of defecating. Also, it is very important that you praise the puppy for going to the bathroom in a desirable location. Then allow the puppy to play for a few minutes. If there is no fence around your yard, be sure to put a leash on the puppy so it can not run away. Bring the puppy back inside, give its breakfast. After each feeding, you should take the puppy back outside to potty. Then back in and crate.
12:00 PM- It is time to take the puppy back outside. If the puppy begins to play, ignore the play behavior. If the puppy attempts to engage you in play, stand still with your arms folded across your chest. Don't try to sweet talk the puppy into going potty. If you attempt to sweet talk the puppy, the pup could mistake your tone of voice as approval. Praise only when the pup completes the task at hand. Again the pup should be allowed a few minutes of playtime and then brought back inside and fed. After feeding, take the pup back outside to provide the opportunity to potty again. Then bring the pup back inside and place in its crate.
5:00 PM- Follow the same procedure as the 12 o'clock routine. The only difference is that you may allow the puppy to remain outside of its crate for 2-3 hours. Constantly supervise the puppy to ensure that it does not potty inside the house. If you can not supervise the puppy, place it in a small puppy playpen.
8:00 PM- Take the pup outside to go potty. When it is brought back inside, give it its last meal of the day. A young puppy should be given at least 4 meals a day until it is 4-5 months old. As the puppy grows, the number of meals is decreased and the amount of food increased for each meal. After this feeding, take the puppy outside before it is returned to its crate. Do not give the puppy any more water after this time.
11:00 PM- This should be the last venture outside for potty for the day. Allow very little playtime during this outing so that the puppy will not expect to be played with during this late hour. Then return the pup to its crate for the night. If the puppy whines or barks to be let out, ignore the behavior. Soon it will learn that its complaining will not be rewarded, and it will soon stop and go to sleep.
Follow this schedule for 7-10 days. After this time period, reward the pup with more time outside of its crate. If you have to leave the puppy alone for any length of time, it should be placed in its crate. It will learn that the crate is its safe place to den while its master is away. If you work outside the home and can not be there at the 12 o'clock feeding/pottying, you must make arrangements for someone else to come to your home. If you don't, then it is your fault if the puppy goes inside its crate, because it simply can not hold it, even if it wanted to.
Puppies that are properly trained make better pets that all family members can enjoy and are more likely to be kept permanently by their original owners. I have entrusted you with one of my "children". Please take good care of him. Congratulations!