Whether you have a new puppy or adopted an older dog, these tips are meant to help establish, build, and maintain a healthy relationship with you and your new four legged family member.
The most important thing to understand about a crate, is that it is not a punishment and should never be used as one. A crate is meant to be a positive, safe, and comfortable space for your puppy or dog to have of his/her own. A dog who sees the crate in a positive light will help build independence, a feeling of security, is given a place to retreat to, and is also a space to keep them safe and out of trouble when unsupervised.
Additionally, crate training helps with housebreaking.
How does a crate build independence and security? If a healthy relationship is formed with the puppy/dog and the crate, this will help provide structure, routine, and learning to be comfortable on their own. You should always practice crate training both when you are home and you are away from home. The first time you put your puppy in a crate should NOT be the first time you need to use it. A puppy needs to first understand what it is, what it's for, and that it's a temporary time to settle and relax. Dogs are den animals by nature and having an enclosed space of their own that they can retreat to in times of uncertainty or over stimulation helps them feel more secure.
A puppy or dog properly conditioned to a crate is beneficial in the event of emergency situations. In case of medical and veterinarian requirements, overnight stays at a vet hospital, boarding, and travel, it will be less stressful if your puppy or dog understand what a crate is.
Safety is always a priority when raising a puppy or dog. If he/she is left unsupervised and has a destructive tendency, the crate is the safest place for them to be. This will prevent your puppy or dog from chewing or ingesting dangerous items around the house like wires, batteries, and swallowing items that can cause
choking or intestinal blockage.
How do I help crate train my puppy or dog?
Play crate games and be sure to practice often and keep it fun.
Crate training helps with housebreaking. As we mentioned above, dogs are den animals by nature.
Generally they do not want to soil the area they sleep in. This doesn't mean that they won't soil the crate,
but it gives you the advantage and opportunity to create a schedule for you and the puppy.
Which brings us to house breaking...
ACCIDENTS HAPPEN and that's OK.
Every dog is different and will learn at a different pace
or may need additional help learning where they should
and shouldn't go. Crate training will help with house
breaking. As a starting guideline, your puppy should
be going out every 10 minutes per week old they are.
If you have an 8 week old puppy, you will want to
take them out about every hour and 20 minutes.
Additionally, be sure to take your puppy out after every
“activity”, for example; as soon as they come out of their
crate, right after they eat, after they drink, after play
time, after cuddling and a nap, etc. Your goal is to
make a habit of them going outside and building the
association of potty time being outside. Be sure to
clean all accidents in the house thoroughly to remove any lingering scents that may encourage them to use that spot again to potty. Please know that yelling and “rubbing” a dogs face in their accidents will not help house break them any quicker and can cause confusion and mistrust for your dog.
Sometimes your puppy or dog needs additional time outside to potty. Try to give ample time to go and keep
on a leash if they are easily distracted in the yard. Be sure to reward with big praise by petting or a treat
each time they potty outside.
If you are struggling with housebreaking, you can do the umbilical cord method. This means you leash your
puppy or dog in your home and you can either hold the leash or tie it to your waist. This method will
prevent the puppy or dog from wandering off and finding an area to potty in house.
You can typically tell a puppy is about to potty by their behavior. If a puppy abruptly stops what they are doing, starts sniffing, quickly walking off, or walking in a circle, they are likely about to go and should be taken outside.
Give the action a name! Each and every time your puppy or dog potty's outside, say it to them. This can be
“Go potty”, “outside”, “bathroom”, etc. Eventually the name will be associated with the action and your puppy
or dog will begin to understand what you are saying or asking when you take them outside.
Socialization is a very misunderstood topic for dogs.
Socialization does not always have to be dogs playing
with dogs, puppies running up to people excitedly,
or any engagement in general. Never force your puppy
or dog into a situation which they are uncomfortable with.
If you notice your puppy or dog is shy or timid around
people, do not allow people to approach and reach for
your puppy. Same goes if your puppy or dog is nervous
of new dogs or animals. Always allow your puppy to
approach first. This helps build confidence, allowing your
puppy or dog to make that decision on whether or not
he/she wants to interact with another dog or person.
Socialization can look like a day walking around the park
and your puppy or dog seeing people and dogs, but not having to interact with them or feeling like every
dog or person is going to approach them uninvited. Always advocate for your puppy or dog.
Bring treats with you places and build positive reinforcements to the world around them.
Bring your puppy on adventures and outings with you.
For example; even if it's just a trip to the drive thru, there are many steps that you may not realize are part of learning socialization and exposure from something as small and as a quick as a drive to pick up burgers.
Leashing your dog
Your dog hearing and seeing you prepare to leave
Your dog going outside
Your dog jumping into a vehicle
Your dog riding in the vehicle
Your dog hearing your voice
Your dog hearing a radio
Your dog hearing another voice
Your dog smelling all those delicious smells
Your dog getting to be with you spontaneously
Coming back home
Unleashing and settling
The benefits of mental stimulation that come with all of these
You can see in the example above how a quick and ordinary trip to pick up food that may seem tedious to us,
can be a little fun learning adventure for your puppy or dog. These little things are big things to our dogs
and they depend on us to include them when ever we can.
Routine is knowing and routine is comfortable. Getting yourself and your puppy into a routine will help set you both up for success. You can make routine things like feeding times, walks, play time, crate time, and training time. Having a routine, especially with a young puppy, will help your puppy learn, gain confidence, and help with housebreaking. When you continue to practice something you know, you become confident in doing it.
Always start your training indoors!
Start training and practice inside,
where you both are comfortable and in a
controlled environment (No distractions).
Even something as simple as walking your
puppy on a leash can be started indoors.
There are many styles of dog training,
always do your research if you need
additional help to find a trainer that you
connect with and who shares your values.