There are many wonderful reasons to buy a crate (see sizing guide below) for your new puppy. At the top of the list are his security and your peace of mind.
A crate is your puppy’s little den. Do you remember building a playhouse out of a huge box when you were a kid? You had fun in that little enclosure. You felt safe. The crate is your puppy’s playhouse.
Choose a size of crate that you’ll be able to use for your dog when he is a fully grown adult. The full grown dog must be able to stand, sit, turn around and lie down comfortably. Purchasing a crate with a divider allows you to make the crate smaller to fit your puppy. The divider can be moved to enlarge the crate “space” as your puppy grows.
Crate training a puppy is important for a number of reasons. It will keep him out of trouble and makes him feel more secure about being left alone. If you have visitors who are afraid of dogs or service people working in the house, the crate will keep your dog from getting underfoot. It is also a great safety measure when traveling with your dog.
A crated puppy cannot destroy your home. He cannot chew on an electrical cord and electrocute himself. He cannot find that bug poison you sprinkled under the bathroom sink and forgot about. He cannot get into cleaning chemicals under your sink when you are not watching.
A puppy’s natural instinct is to chew, especially when he is teething. Just like a baby he will put anything into his mouth. Anything within the puppy’s potential range is a target. You wouldn’t let a toddler run unsupervised in your home and help himself to anything. You shouldn’t do it with a puppy, either.
A crate is also where he learns to control his bladder and piddle outside. Dogs will usually make a great effort not to soil their den. If you take your puppy out often, and praise him lavishly for doing his business outside, with the crate’s help, he will housebreak sooner, with fewer accidents.
A crate is also a good way to keep your relationship with your puppy positive. After all, if the little guy isn’t running through the house, he cannot be doing things he shouldn’t do. You come home, he’s wagging his tail. You tell him he’s great, calmly open the crate door and immediately take him outside. He relieves himself and you tell him he is wonderful. Lots of positive reinforcement here. There is no need for yelling and screaming when you get home to find he has trashed the house. There is no way he could trash the house, as he was safely confined to his crate.
If your puppy has never seen a crate, introduce him to his new home slowly when he needs to take a nap. After he eats, he will want to relieve himself. After that, put him in the crate for naptime. When puppy wakes up, he’ll bark because he needs to go out and doesn’t want to soil his bed. Take him out, let him piddle, play with him for awhile. When he is tired and ready for another nap, put him back in the crate. The crate is like a baby’s crib — it is a safe place to sleep, but is not the proper place for bathroom functions.
Your puppy may start to whine or bark when he is locked in the crate. This is normal. The puppy may be trying to tell you he has to go. If you are sure he doesn’t need to relieve himself, ignore him. Some puppies will fuss for a few minutes, others may bark for a while.
To make your dog more comfortable in his crate, put a washable, fluffy towel on the crate floor. (Don’t use newspapers in the crate – this will only confuse the dog about the proper place to relieve himself.) Put in a safe chew toy (like a Nylabone) to keep him occupied.
A crate will also prevent the puppy from jumping all over you while you are driving, causing an accident. Keeping an animal crated during travel also offers the dog added security in the event of an automobile accident. If you don’t want to crate your dog during travel, pet stores now have safety belts for dogs.
Once you reach your destination, a crate provides your dog with a safe haven in a strange location. It makes you a more welcome guest since your dog won’t be running wild through someone’s home or in the motel room. He’ll be happier because he has his “den”, your host will be happier since he’ll have no accidents and you’ll be happier because you won’t have to apologize for puddles and ripped furniture.
The crate is NOT a place for punishment. It should always be seen by your dog as a wonderful, happy haven.
If you approach the crate as a necessity of dog ownership similar to the leash, collar and water bowl, your dog will accept it readily. It will become his little home. You won’t have to worry about what he is doing when you aren’t watching. And he is feeling safe while you are gone because he is in his den.
Puppies should never be left more than 3-4 hours at a time in a crate, except while sleeping at night. Crating is NOT a substitute babysitter while you are at work 8-9 hours/day. Leaving a young puppy in a crate more than 3-4 hours will force him, against his will, to relieve himself in the crate because he doesn’t yet have the physical ability to hold himself for longer times.
Crate Sizing Guide
- Small (S) 24″ x 17″ x 20″
- Medium (M) 30″ x 19″ x 22 1/2″
- Medium/Large (ML) 36″ x 22″ x 25″
- Large (L) 42″ x 27″ x 31″
- X-Large (XL) 48″ x 30″ x 32″
S: Beagle, Boston Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Pug; M: Basset Hound, Bulldog, Keeshond, Norwegian Elkhound, Dalmation; ML: Boxer, Standard Poodle, Golden Retriever, Labrador L: Afghan, Doberman, German Shepherd, Collie; XL: Great Dane, Pyrenees, Mastiff, St. Bernand