Step Off On The Right Paw With These Puppy Crate Training And Housebreaking Tips
By Kathy Petersen, Rockland Aussies
So, you carefully picked your puppy, watched it grow and the time has come to bring your new puppy home… now what?
I am asked frequently about crate training a puppy when you first bring them home. This has prompted me to share this with others. Please understand that many breeders/trainers will recommend other training techniques. This is what I have found to be effective.
I do want to discourage you from putting a young puppy in a crate when you first get him/her for overnight or as a method of keeping them during the day while you are working. This does not work well. When you put a puppy at 7, 8 or 9 weeks old in a crate, they are forced to potty in there. They absolutely cannot hold it! What you are doing is actually slowing the housebreaking process and the puppy will get used to going to the bathroom where he/she sleeps making him/her a nasty puppy.
Even at a young age, we put two whelping boxes together so that we can have the puppies learn to potty away from the bed area. This aids in the housebreaking process and usually helps assist in making a smooth transition to their new homes. As they relate it later, to going potty outside, away from their living area which is your home.
When crate training a puppy make sure it is always a positive experience and never used as punishment. Check out fabric dog crates on Amazon here.
MidWest Life Stages Folding Metal Dog Crate, available on Amazon, includes a divider. Crate Size: 42L x 28W x 31H inches. Use the divider panel to adjust the length of living area as your puppy grows.
What I do recommend is confining your puppy with a baby gate (with slats that go up and down so they cannot climb it) or by shutting off a door. Try using the utility room or bathroom (definitely a small area). Put a bed down for the pup, interesting toys, chew toys, food, water and lining the rest of the floor with newspaper. This is how we raise a litter so that when they leave our home; they are paper trained at minimal and almost already housebroken if you continue to build on the foundation already set.
When you take the puppy outside to potty, you praise the puppy and/or give treats, and act like you just won the lottery! Ten Million Dollars! Therefore, the puppy knows this makes you really, really happy. When the puppy has an accident or uses the newspaper, you say NOTHING to the puppy. Dogs like to do behaviors that are rewarded! If there is no reward in having an accident or going on the newspaper then, they will want to go outside to go potty where you are so excited, happy and he/she gets treats!
Please keep in mind that to a dog a reward is both positive and negative to them. So, when you scold, you are rewarding them with attention (negative attention but, attention no matter what), so you are actually re-enforcing them to continue to do it.
When you are home, you can start placing your puppy in the crate for 1 hour. A great time is while you fix dinner. Then if the puppy is quiet, let the puppy out and take him immediately to the bathroom. You are re-enforcing that you want your puppy to go outside to the bathroom. You only let the puppy out if they are quiet because if you let them out while they are crying and barking – you just re-enforced them to continue to do exactly that each time you put them in the crate. Meaning, you taught them they can get their way by crying, barking and whining.
Continue with the 1 hour for a couple of days and gradually increase the time left in the crate by 1 hour. If at any point, during the time, your puppy goes potty in the crate, simply clean it up and disinfect it. Say nothing to your puppy and decrease their time in the crate to the last successful time. Continue on building up the time in the crate until the desired length of time.
Please keep in mind Aussies are active dogs and keeping an Aussies in the crate overnight and while you are working is too many hours. They will begin to stress and develop bad behaviors if their need for energy release is not fulfilled.